Soul-Shaping Small Groups

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Working my way through Soul-Shaping Small Groups: A Refreshing Approach for Exasperated Leaders by Kim V. Engelmann.  New from IVP, the subtitle sounded hopeful and honestly, the book doesn’t disappoint.

The concept for the book comes from Engelmann’s own experience while serving as the head of the Care Ministries Department at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church.  She quit her own group when it became “another chore, duty, obligation–something I did not need (p. 18).”  We’ve never felt that way…have we?  Definitely.

Wrestling with the findings of Reveal, the study by Willow Creek Community Church that found that once a person moves beyond Growing in Christ (the second stage) small groups become far less important, Engelmann asks the question: “Are small groups the problem?  Or is it the way we do small groups that is the problem (p. 21)?”

She believes it’s the way we’re doing groups.  I tend to agree.  Her response is compelling.  The first half of the book takes you through her journey and the second half gets very practical with exercises you can help your groups put into practice.  Believe me, you’ll find yourself pulled in by the journey.  We all need that part, that set-up.  The practical exercises are just that…practical and good to have in your toolbox.

The topics covered are:

  • Building a praying community
  • Creating Emmaus Road groups
  • Invitational exercises
  • Sharing and praying for others
  • Listening
  • Interceding for others
  • Befriending scripture
  • Community, Celebration, and Service

If you, like many of us, are looking for ways to help the groups in your small group ministry have transformational experiences, Soul-Shaping Small Groups is a book you should be reading.  First for yourself.  Then for your coaches.  I really appreciate a line from the book:

“The best training is always experiencing exactly what you are talking about.  Until you get something from the inside out, you don’t get it (p. 31).”

Almost like the instruction you’re given as the jet taxis out for take off.  “In the event of sudden loss of cabin pressure…put the mask on yourself first and then help those around you.”  I needed help with this.  I bet you can use some help too.

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