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:


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

Spiritual Gifts from the Holy Spirit

This was written by one of our Fanning the Flame team members, Debbie.  It is about her experience in learning more about spiritual gifts.

One of the many positive things coming out of Fanning the Flame is that we are finding out what our spiritual gifts are. Some of us already know what our gift is but we might not really understand what it means and are not quite sure how we can use it to the glory of God. God has given us all spiritual gifts through the Holy Spirit. We may find out we have more than one but one or two are the strongest. One thing I have learned is that there are spiritual gifts that I don’t have that someone else may have but that is okay. I need to use the gifts God has given me because as a congregation we need to use the gifts that are given to each of us. When you put all of our gifts together we have everything covered to do God’s work. That is the Holy Spirit’s plan. A Church that as a congregation does not use their gifts is impotent. The definition of the word impotent as used in the Bible is “to be without strength”. That means the Church that does not use their gifts will not be a healthy Church. Even though we may know what our gifts are and would like to use them as God has intended we might not know what to do. I know for me that the Small Groups Discipleship Ministry that we are starting is going to help me use my gifts working with others in the group. In a small group you get a chance to really get to know each other and learn to work together to achieve what we are intended to do. I personally don’t think I would be able to do enough on my own but in a small group I feel the possibilities are endless. Anyone who has not done a spiritual gift assessment I urge you do that. It is very interesting and exciting to do. Also Joan is sharing her knowledge of spiritual gifts with us in the Sunday School class. We are looking at each spiritual gift and what them mean, where they are described in the Bible and there is discussion of examples of each and how they apply in our daily lives.

1 Corinthians 12:6-7 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

A Disciplined Life

Many of you know that since May, I have been enrolled in a “Prevent Diabetes” class offered by the Department of Aging at the local Senior Center.  I thought I’d give this a try after lab results that showed my blood sugar levels were rising and I was very close to being classified prediabetic.  I wasn’t sure I’d be able to stick with the class or what results I would see, but having a diabetic sibling, I wanted to avoid the health complications that come with the disease, if I could.

Here’s what has happened.  I’ve lost weight;  my blood pressure (which was not a concern) has gone down;  I’ve added exercise to my routine, and my doctor says she’s very confident that my blood sugar levels will now be much lower!  I feel more energetic, and pleased with what I’ve accomplished.

Much of the work that has gone into these results has been tedious — counting calories, logging exercise minutes.  However, because I was working with a coach and a couple of other people with the same goal, it’s also been fun.  The changes happened bit by bit.  It’s been a process, but along the way, I’ve learned healthier habits.  Those disciplines have paid off, in some ways that are obvious, and others that are unseen.

It strikes me that the same kind of disciplines are needed to have a healthy spiritual life.  Here’s where the small groups we are forming at St. Paul’s come in.  Together we’ll be learning not just Biblical facts, but how to live a Biblical life.  We’ll have someone to coach us during our discussions;  we’ll encourage one another and hold each other accountable;  we’ll gradually develop healthier spiritual habits.  We won’t change overnight, but we will change.  I know it can work because I’ve already seen it happen in my physical body– I can’t wait to see what will happen in our spiritual body, the church, as we journey toward health together.

Workplace, Team, Business Meeting

Our first small group meeting is later this month.  This will be a “practice” round for new facilitators to get their feet wet, and for all of us to start developing our spiritual muscles.  I’ll keep you posted, as things move along.  Friends and readers, we need your prayers!

Fanning the Flame #21 More on Small Groups

Last Saturday a number of our members gathered to learn more about what our Small Group Task Force has been learning and planning.  Members of the task force and our pastor gave brief talks on topics such as:

  • The Biblical basis for small group ministry
  • The Importance of small groups
  • What small groups will look like at St. Paul’s
  • Qualities of small group facilitators
  • Group dynamics
  • Relationship evangelism
  • Doctrinal issues which may arise

and more!  There was plenty of time for questions and discussion.  There were some important take-aways.  One for me was:

Relational structures like Biblical small groups are an integral part of “being” the church and not just “doing” church.  The consumer mentality rampant in our culture has distorted our understanding of community.  People tend to focus on what they are going to get out of going to  church …. rather than what God is going to do in us and through us …

I hear many people talk about finding the right church which has the best programs and services that will help them.  Instead we need to remember that the best church is the one where we can serve effectively!

Another thing I learned is that a good small group facilitator does not have the same qualities as a good teacher.  Here are the differences:

Teaching                                                               Facilitating

Teaching                                                                Leading

Teacher Centered                                                  Student Centered

Passive for Group Members                                  Active for All

Ownership belongs to the Teacher                        Ownership is shared

Telling                                                                     Asking

I’ve always felt that although I can teach, it isn’t my strong point.  Now I know that my spiritual gifts make me a much more gifted facilitator.

We’re going to be forming a couple of “practice” groups that will meet and give participants a chance to try out being a facilitator, and also see the benefits that will affect all the participants.  I’m looking forward to being a part of that, and learning some things that will help me as one of the Adult Sunday School teachers (Sunday School is, after all, a small group).

Look for more as we proceed, and keep praying for us, readers!