Building Community: Book List
One of my small group leaders wants to guide his group into deeper community this semester and asked me if I could give him some book recommendations. Here are some of the recommendations I gave him.
My favorite book on Christian community is John Ortberg's Everybody's Normal Till You Get to Know Them. The book is easy to read, the content is practical, and the title is fun.
Andy Stanley's book Creating Community focuses more on their philosophy of small groups and the small group culture they are building at the macro level as opposed to practical tips for leaders trying to build community at the group level. And although many of the application points are relevant primarily within the context of their specific small group model, there are certainly Biblically-rooted principles and values that can be applied in any group setting.
Randy Frazee's book The Connecting Church describes his vision and philosophy of neighborhood-based small groups. Like Stanley's book, this one is very focused on a macro vision, but the principles are transferable. Willow Creek is actually moving towards this model of small groups.
The Willow Creek guys published a great book a few years ago, Walking the Small Group Tightrope, which explores some of the tensions we experience in small groups. Many of those tensions revolve around some of the big questions we ask when we are trying to develop small gorup systems. Do I want groups open or closed? Do I want them to focus on building relationships or growing in their faith? Do I want them creating safe places for transparent relationships or safe environments for visitors to experience Christ and faith? The answers to many of these questions is "yes," and the pendulum swings between the tensions.
This is a great book for leaders who have led for 2 years or more and have personally felt the pull of those who want more intimacy and transparency and those who want to invite their unchurched and non-Christian friends. Or the pull of those who want to focus on building friendships versus those who want challenging, confrontational accountability relationships.