Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sticky Church Blog Tour: Chapter 12

This post is part of a blog tour for Sticky Church.

It's no secret. I'm become a huge Larry Osborne fan. After reading A Contrarian's Guide to Knowing God, I knew I wanted to hear what this guy had to say about small groups and their role in the spiritual formation process. So it worked out well that smallgroups.com wanted to host this blog tour for the book.

I have not been disappointed. As expected, Osborne delivers straight-talk about the honest realities we face when attempting to build community and make disciples within our current cultural context. He does not give us a book that offers "the next big small group fix," and he doesn't promise results that are unrealistic and unsupported. Rather, he simply tells us what they are doing at North Coast Church and why it is working for them. As you read it, you might discover seismic philosophical shifts that dramatically change the way you do small groups. Or you might find a simple tweak that makes a tremendous difference in how you experience community at your church. Regardless of what your small group model is, there are principles in this book that will prove to be helpful.

I've been asked to focus on Chapter 12: Overcoming the Time Crunch. No matter where we are located geographically, all of us have faced the struggles that come with competing priorities. Osborne's primary message is this: we can either stubbornly embrace the "perfect small group model" and fight against culture or we can harness culture to flow with the rhythms of our lives in ways that benefit group life. We can either created a demanding system that we ask leaders to come serve or we can create a system that serves our leaders.

The chapter addresses three areas where we face the time crunch when it comes to small groups.

First, the reality that most people in the church are willing to invest two time slots a week into church life.

Second, how to balance the need for leader training with the limited time leaders have to give.

And finally, creating a small group that runs on the rhythms of life. A system that allows for breaks at strategic points during the year.

I'll let you discover their strategies for yourself when you read the book. But here are a couple of my favorite take-aways:
  • "Instead of giving a dead and dying program and nice Christian burial, we tend to put it on life support."
  • "We've had to say no to many great ideas and programs that would have broadened our ministry but blunted our impact."
  • "What we intended as a reward for our leaders quickly became a measure of a leader's commitment and willingness to sacrifice for the good of the ministry."
If you are responsible for group life, discipleship, and community at your church, make sure to read this book. You won't necessarily agree with everything, and you shouldn't adopt any model without engineering it specifically for your unique cultural and ministry context. But there are principles that are universal.

Read reviews of other chapters here.


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