5 Essential GroupLife Reads for Your Christmas List

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What are you reading these days? Here are five small group ministry books that I highly recommend.  If you’ve not read them yet, now’s the time!

creating_communitywpCreating Community by Andy Stanley and Bill Willits is an extremely easy read that is packed with very helpful insights about the small group philosophy at North Point Community Church.  More important?  It is a great application of the principles found in The 7 Practices of Effective Ministry (one of my top 5 picks for ministry impact and effectiveness).  You can read my review right here.  If you haven’t read it, this is a must read for small group ministry.

sticky_churchSticky Church by Larry Osborne provides a very helpful understanding of how North Coast pulls off their sermon-based small group system.  I have to point out though, whether you’re interested in sermon-based or not, this is a very helpful read.  You can learn a lot about small group system design, alignment strategy, and preparation for kicking off a semester.  You can read my review right here.  This is a book you ought to have in your toolbox.

activatewpActivate by Nelson Searcy and Kerrick Thomas is great book to read alongside Sticky Church.  Although it isn’t really “an entirely new approach to small groups,” it does offer some of the best guidance I’ve seen in the design of a semester-based small group philosophy.  Searcy is a very good systems thinker.  In Activate you’ll discover a lot of very transferable concepts that will make a lot of sense whether you’re interested in the semester-based idea or not.  You can read my review right here.  Easy reading.  Very well written.  Your copy will be just as marked up as mine.

simple_small_groupsSimple Small Groups by Bill Search is another very practical read, packed with great insights from a small group ministry veteran.  While the first three books on my list are about system design, Simple Small Groups is about developing small group leaders.  Although it can be used as a leader development manual, I suggest you read it first.  You might even want to read it with your coaching team.  You’ll find many very transferable practices that you’ll adopt right away.  You can read my review right here.

organic_communitywpAlthough Organic Community by Joseph Myers is last on my list, it is no reflection on the insights it contains.  Much like the thinking behind Myers’ previous book, The Search to Belong, Organic Community will challenge some of your thinking about how group life actually works.  Every good small group philosophy is built on the understanding that there is no problem-free system.  This book will help you think through the problems that come with any system.  You can read my review right here.  I like the challenge that this one brings.

If you have a team that makes your small group ministry work, you may want to consider picking up all five of these and passing them around.  There’s a lot to learn and unpack in any one of them and together they’ll really challenge your thinking.

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  1. Richard Jarman on December 2, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    Mark–Just got Activate based on your recommendation. I’m in the beginning stages of starting small groups in our church.

    Already, the idea of starting with the “Crowd” rather than the “Congregation” is causing me to rethink some things. I’m sure this book will be helpful and challenging. Thanks!

  2. Mark Howell on December 2, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    Glad you’re rethinking! Let me know what you think of Activate!