Looking for a leader training resource? Finding the Flow: A Guide for Leading Small Groups and Gatherings, by Tara Miller and Jenn Peppers, is one you should take a look at. New from IVP, it’s full of great leader training ideas, practices, and philosophy. This is a book length training guide. At over 240 pages (including a very helpful appendix), it is not a skim through manual.
When selecting a training resource, practical, hands-on experience, is very important. Written in a very conversational way, this is also the story of two group life practitioners. The authors [quote]served at Pathways Church in Denver where Tara Peppers was the Small Groups Pastor and Jenn Peppers is an elder. They’re also the co-founders of Flow, whose mission is “to resource emerging leaders who facilitate group conversations that lead people closer to God.”
Looking over the contents you can get a pretty good idea of the style. Chapters on knowing yourself, stages of group life, listening to God and others, asking good questions, navigating group conflict, developing new leaders and spiritual transformation let you in on the fact that this is not really a book about technique. In fact, in the forward by Joseph Myers we learn that, “This is a field book for spotting the patterns people use to connect. This is not a guide to clone groups. This is a guide to help you develop environments where people can connect in organically ordered patterns.”
The book is based on the idea that small groups are “like a river.” Out of that idea comes the notion that like a river, small groups need a water source, they need help charting their course, there will always be undercurrents and times when the waters are stirred. The metaphor works very well because Finding the Flow is really more of a travel journal written by two very experienced travelers. In the stories that are shared on almost every page you can sense that the depth is based on hands-on participation.
In addition to a liberal supply of great stories and illustrations, you’ll also find a steady supply of “Do This” tips that are very practical and will easily move from great idea to implementation. Paired with a really practical set of appendices you’ll definitely get your money’s worth out of this resource.
If Finding the Flow has a downside, I think it’s that it will mostly be used by small group pastors and directors to develop training experiences and practices…as opposed to being used by group leaders as a work-through-and-discuss journal. In my world of busy small group leaders, reading a 240 page journal is not high on the list of probabilities. The upside? You need this book. Your coaches probably need this book. It is the kind of reading that will inspire you to try a few new things. And some of those new things will become part of your system and that will change the flow for groups in your church.