What images does the word community bring to mind? Is it simply a group of people living in the same neighborhood? Or is it a group of people choosing to help each other out, to think of each other when doing daily tasks, choosing to bless others with their actions? What about when a church is made up of community groups? Are they just awkward small groups of people living in the same area? or are they people who are intentional about getting to know and being there for each other and sharing God’s love with those outside their group?
The purpose of community groups is to help the church better do discipleship, pastoral care, and missions. Each of these are things that are not easily done in just a large group setting. It is the small group that fosters an atmosphere for these very things.
Having community groups means more people have ownership and rise up to the challenge of a community group. The church leadership is not spread out as thin as there are leaders under them caring for people, and the people within a group are caring for each other. Instead of 1-2 people caring for 100, you have several group leaders caring for a small group of people, and then leaders caring for the group leaders. So if one coach, was over 6 small group leaders, who each took care of 15 people, you could have 90 people in groups. If you went out another level and had a person over 6 coaches, they would have over 500 people in groups. This quickly multiplies the ability to disciple small groups of people.
Written by some of the leadership of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, the purpose of this book is to get leaders to rethink the awkward small groups and to challenge leaders to have a vision for community groups that are intentional about discipleship, pastoral care, and missions. While this book does just that and does a good job of it, it stops short of helping leaders to create leaders underneath them who are intentionally trained just for that purpose. This is a good book to get started with the idea of community groups and gives the nuts and bolts of what one needs to think about, but some other books will be helpful afterwards (such as The Pocket Guide to Leading a Small Group: 52 Ways to help You and Your Small Group Grow by Dave Earley and Rod Dempsey, and The 8 Habits of Effective Small Group Leaders by Dave Earley). I would recommend this book to start a leader thinking in the direction of community groups, but I would not recommend this book be the only book they read.
This book comes out September 30th
I received the galleys of this book from Net Galley for the purpose of this review.