2011’s Christmas Reading List

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Have you put your Christmas wish list together yet?  2011 has been quite a year and no doubt there’s been a book or two that you’ve missed.  Here are a few books I think you should be reading:

Community: Taking Your Small Group Off Life Support by Mars Hill’s Brad House is a definite.  If you haven’t picked up this one yet, make sure you add it to your list.   This is a great book, complete with plenty to wrestle with.  You can read my review right here.

If you’re looking for practical, hands-on tips and ideas about how to do small group ministry…this is not it.  At the same time, if you want to be sure you’re wrestling with the questions and formative thinking essential to building a quality small group ministry…Community has made my list as required reading.

If you’re a small group ministry practitioner, Small Groups with Purpose is definitely a must-read.  Written by Steve Gladen, Saddleback’s Pastor of the Small Group Community, this book is packed with so much great stuff, it will provoke many important conversations on your team.

There are several things I love about Small Groups with Purpose.  First, it’s an inside look at the largest small group ministry in the United States.  Size isn’t everything, but to build something like this takes time, wisdom, patience, and leadership.  Second, you don’t have to be purpose-driven to really benefit from an understanding of how the model works in grouplife.  And third, Part Three, How Can I Do This? is as sweet and complete a blueprint as you’re ever going to come across.  You can read my full review right here.

An essential book if you’re interested in the ongoing conversation here about connecting the widening 60% that are unreachable with the attractional model is Rumors of God.  Providing a sample of the conversations it will take to share the Gospel with those who are far from God in the 21st century, authors Darren Whitehead and Jon Tyson write with the tone that will be heard as authentic (not artificial), relevant (not dated), and interested in the needs of others (as opposed to self-interested).

Written from the perspective of two Australian born American pastors, Rumors of God provides an invaluable perspective from a next Christians vantage point.  You can read my review right here.

A very good look at the way apostolic movements are shaped, On the Verge by Alan Hirsch and Dave Ferguson is an extremely practical and engaging book.  I’ve described it as a kind of mashup, combining the efforts of one of the leading missional writers (Hirsch) and one of the leading practitioners (Ferguson).

I found On the Verge to be both challenging and encouraging.  It prompted me to reconsider some concepts and examine closely some ideas about reaching the widening 60% that will not be reached with the attractional model that we know.  While not a quick read, it’s an important read and one you should give the time to work your way through.  You can read my full review right here.

Referenced by many grouplife thought leaders, Small Groups, Big Impact by Jim Egli and Dwight Marable is a book you ought to work your way through.  Based on research involving over 3,000 small groups and more than 200 churches in 21 21 countries, the authors looked “at the dynamics that make small groups and small group ministries healthy and growing.”

Egli and Marable have done us all a great service, identifying four factors that make the biggest difference in a group’s growth.  You can read my full review right here.

Want do you think? Have a recommendation? You can click here to jump into the conversation.

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  1. Paul Loyless on November 21, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    Since you’ve recommended a few small group books, here’s one that’s great to do with a small group, Detox for the Overly Religious by David Putman. It’s fantastic.

  2. Anonymous on November 22, 2011 at 6:58 am

    Thanks Paul!

  3. Mike Wagner on December 19, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    Thanks for sharing your list Mark!

    I listened to Alan Hirsch on a Vimeo video give a lengthly lecture on Christian movements. It was wonderfully provocative! Didn’t know about On The Verge. Must find a way to add it to my collection.

    And thanks again for being so generous with your reading and reviews. You’ve blessed me with your writing.

  4. Anonymous on December 20, 2011 at 7:33 am

    Thanks Mike! Really appreciate your affirmation…definitely means so much to me.