Thursday, August 09, 2007

Book Review: Making Small Groups Work

Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend have written a book that every small groups leader/pastor can benefit from reading: Making Small Groups Work. It's been sitting on my shelf for 2 years, and I finally got around to reading it. Just finished it a few minutes ago.

The book focuses on basic principles of spiritual and relational growth, group structure, discussion facilitation, and the creation of safe growth environments. Thus, the book is applicable and relevant to leaders of any small group regardless of the type or model of small groups the church has established.

The books is divided into six sections, and each section consists of several short chapters:
  1. How Small Groups Help People Grow
  2. What Happens in a Good Group
  3. Starting a Small Group
  4. The Resonsibilities of Group Facilitators
  5. The Responsibilities of Group Members
  6. How to Deal with Problems in Groups
Each chapter is very practical, readable, and short. The authors make great use of bullet points and lists to narrow the focus of the topic they are targeting. Because of the arrangement of the chapters, the book also serves well as a quick reference guide. The authors include excellent examples of "role playing" and "scripts" to assist a leader in finding the right words to communicate the points they are illustrating. Their challenge to "guard the process" serves as a foundation for the entire book.

I especially like the fact that they have dedicated an entire section of chapters to the responsibilities of group members. I spend a lot of time training leaders on their responsibilities, but I rarely address the expectations for groups members. This is an area in which we should try to grow at NCC.

Since the book is so practical and not tied to any specific small group model or method, it could work well as a leadership training manual. Personally, I would like to see an existing small group actually use the book as their study text.

Drs. Cloud and Townsend bring years of professional counseling experience and ministry experience to the church, and their work is extremely valuable. I would also recommend their book How People Grow.


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