What are you reading? Got your reading list together? I’ve found that summer sometimes offers the occasional window of opportunity to catch up on some essential reading. Summer also offers a chance to read outside of my field. Here’s my list of 5 of the best I’ve read lately:
These are clearly different times. How will they affect small group ministry? Can we just continue to reapply the methods that we’ve used in the last two decades? Or will the times require a new approach? While there are a number of books that cover the topic generally (i.e., unChristian, You Lost Me, The Next Christians), Rick Howerton’s newest book, A Different Kind of Tribe: Embracing the New Small Group Dynamic is the best treatment I’ve found from a grouplife perspective. One of the most popular and sought after conference speakers, Rick is also a widely used small group trainer. His expertise and experience makes this a must-read book this summer. You can read my full review of A Different Kind of Tribe right here.
The newest addition to the Groups that Grow series is a great resource. Building a Life-Changing Small Group Ministry by Bill Donahue and Russ Robinson is definitely going to get a lot of use in many, many churches. I really like the way this one begins and ends with the change process and very practical instruction on moving in the right direction. So many churches know their small group ministries need work. So few know how to get from here to there. This is a book that will help with that process. With years of great experience in one of the most important and in the spotlight small group ministries in the country, Donahue and Robinson have assembled a fantastic tool that deserves a thorough examination. Your copy is sure to be as marked up, dog-eared, and highlighted as any other book in your resource library. Need more info? You can read my review right here.
Steve Gladen’s newest is an essential addition to your library. Leading Small Groups with Purpose is packed with ideas, tools and resources that will transform your leader training design. In fact, I think you’ll immediately find many, many applications for this great training resource. While Gladen’s previous book, Small Groups with Purpose, was focused on giving point leaders a resource that would guide in the building of a small group ministry, Leading Small Groups with Purpose is focused on developing leaders. Very much a small group leader’s handbook, it is the kind of resource that could easily be the leader training manual for your ministry. This is also a book that will provide lots of great ideas for leader training and development. If you need help in this area, you can’t go wrong with Leading Small Groups with Purpose. You can read my full review right here.
Another very insightful read by a long-time small group practitioner is Small Group Vital Signs. Michael Mack has been working at small group ministry for nearly 25 years and is extremely knowledgable about the inner workings of grouplife. While this book is the result of years of development, you’ll find immediate application.
The book’s title should give you a little hint of where Mack is going. Extending the group health theme, Mack identifies “seven indicators of health that make groups flourish” and then works hard to include diagnostic questions and “remedies for what ails many small groups.” You can read my review right here.
If you’ve been part of the conversation here for any length of time, you know that I believe we must be reading broadly. That is, if you’re only reading small group ministry books, or only books directly related to ministry, you’re going to miss out on some of the biggest ideas and inspiration. One of the best books I’ve read recently, and one that definitely ought to be on your reading list, is The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni.
A very applicable topic (the book’s subtitle is why organizational health trumps everything else), you’ll have no trouble pulling idea after idea from this book. If you’re familiar with Lencioni, this book is different than his customary style (his previous books have been written in the form of a parable), but is still extremely readable and very application oriented. I loved it and you’ll be seeing references to The Advantage in upcoming posts here.