Leading Small Groups – A Book Review

Chris Surrate has authored a book that navigates the small group implementation thoroughly.

The book is divided into 4 sections with each section covering separate points in the small group ministry life. There are chapters on starting, facilitating, logistics, and many more.

Section 1 delves into the first step of small group implementation – Gathering, In this section, which is divided into 4 chapters, the author goes over the initial items to consider such as, leadership qualities, purpose of the group, logistics, and group characteristics.

Section 2 takes us into the second step – Launching. In 2 chapters he reviews recruiting, advertising, covenants, and the characteristics of a good, Biblical group.

Section 3 deals with the actual leading of the group – Leading/Facilitation. Since this a critical part of the success of the small group, the author has devoted 6 chapters to this subject. He explains the importance of preparedness, hospitality, genuine authenticity, service, and how to develop a study that is Biblical.

Section 4 goes in-depth into the process of multiplying your small group – Multiplying Your Small Group. The small group should not be looking to add but to develop leaders that can branch-off and start their own small groups. There is also information about training new leaders/facilitators.

Having just experienced our church’s implementation of a Small Group Ministry, I can honestly say that this book earns 5 stars. This is a well written and researched book that can be used in conjunction with many resources to start a successful small group ministry at your church.

Purchase at link below:

https://www.lifeway.com/en/product/leading-small-groups-P005809960

I have received a free copy of this book in return for an honest and fair review – Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CFR Part 255

Learning Grace: Book Learning #3

We Lutherans are big on grace.  It’s one of the five “solas” of the reformation:  we are saved by grace alone.  If you’re interested in reading a spiritual autobiography about someone who believed in God’s grace in his life, check this one out:  it’s an easy read, I finished in one day..

Brennan Manning was a Catholic priest who left the priesthood to marry;  he eventually divorced;  he was an alcoholic who struggled with his addiction on and off throughout his life.  He made many mistakes.  He was also a writer, speaker, teacher and evangelist who touched many with his spiritual insights.  Throughout everything he continued to believe that God loves us, and extends grace to us, wherever we are in our lives.

“Like Christian, the everyman character in The Pilgrim’s Progress, he progressed not always by making right decisions, but by responding appropriately to wrong ones”

from “All is Grace” by Brennan Manning

I like this quote because isn’t it true of most of the “heroes” of the Bible, David, for instance?  His life was a mess, too.  He committed adultery and murder, among other things.  However, he was also “a man after God’s heart.”  He sinned, but he repented, he never turned away from God, he accepted what came from God’s hand, the good and the bad.  Like all of us, he was saint and sinner.  Just like Brennan Manning.  Just like you and me.

Praying with Art

Are you an artist?  Or someone who is interested in art history?  Or maybe you just consider yourself a “visual” person?  If so, you may like to explore the idea of praying with art.  Henri Nouwen, a catholic priest who was well known for his books on the spiritual life wrote an entire book about his experience with a famous painting, The Return of the Prodigal Son, by Rembrandt.  Here is an excerpt describing his original encounter with the painting,

“When I first saw  the Prodigal Son I had just finished an exhausting six week lecturing trip …I was dead tired …anxious, lonely, restless and very needy.  …It was in this condition that I first encountered (a poster of the painting)…on the door of Simone’s office.  My heart leapt when I saw it.  After my long self-exposing journey, the tender embrace of the father and son expressed everything I desired at the moment.  I was, indeed, the son exhausted from long travels;  I wanted to be embraced;  I was looking for a home where I could feel safe.  The son-come-home was all I was and all that I wanted to be.”

Here is the picture Nowen described:

In the book Nouwen meditates on this picture, thinking of himself as the prodigal son, the older son and the father.  Christian art can be a way to put yourself into a Bible story, imagine the environment and the characters and experience it in a whole new way.

If you are interesting in exploring this type of prayer, you might also want to read Behold the Beauty of the Lord: Praying with Icons, by the same author.

Love Like God

I came across this scripture in a book I am currently reading, Nourishing the Seed by Bob Mumford.  It is taken from The Message, which is a paraphrase of the Bible, and it fits so well with our theme this month.

Watch what God does and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents.  Mostly what God does is love you.  Keep company with him and learn a life of love.  Observe how Christ loves us.  His love was not cautious, but extravagant.  He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us.  Love like that”  Ephesians 5:1-2″

What are some of your favorite Bible verses about love?  Please comment and share.