Thursday, August 30, 2007

Book Review: Organic Community

You know a book is going to be good when you find yourself underlining stuff in the forward. After reading Search to Belong and Organic Community, I think I would be willing to plop down money for just about anything that Joseph Myers writes. Like most of my favorite authors, he drives me crazy. I tried really hard to not like him. I wanted to brand him as anti-small groups. I tried to zoom in and focus only on the areas where I disagreed with him. But I just can't. Joseph is writing from lots of a experience and from a heart that truly desires to see people grow in real, authentic community. Anyone who works with small groups, discipleship, or community needs to read this book. Like me, you may find yourself disagreeing with certain things or getting defensive, but you still need to wrestle with it.

Organic Community challenges us to create environments where true Biblical community can flourish. It is not a step-by-step master plan or some new model for ministry. Rather, Joseph presents nine ideas that we need to consider when designing community experiences that allow community to "emerge" instead of being fabricated. He gives principles for being an environmentalist instead of a master planner. I found two chapters particularly helpful. The chapter on "Patterns" helps the reader identify how and why people connect. The chapter on "Partners" challenges our ideas about accountability and encourages a new approach of editability. I have lots of good, constructive questions after reading this book. For instance, what are we measuring and why? Are we measuring the right things? What are we really trying to accomplish in the small group environment?

Organic Community is easy to read, and the tone is straightforward. I still have some bones to pick with the author about certain issues lingering from Search to Belong, but that's a good thing.

If you have not read Search to Belong, I would recommend reading that first. If you are interested in reading more about community, I would also recommend John Ortberg's Everybody's Normal Till You Get to Know Them.


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