With almost 20 years of leading small groups at Saddleback, when Steve Gladen (the founder of the Small Group Network) speaks or writes, we are wise to listen. Many of us have greatly benefitted from his wisdom whether through his previous books, through the Small Group Network, or through the conference he and his team organize (The Lobby Gathering or Accelerate).
Which is why we at the Small Group Network are already getting excited for Steve’s newest book, Planning Small Groups with Purpose: A Field-Tested Guide to Design and Grow Your Ministry, slated to be released in the summer of 2018. This feels like a long way off (and it is), especially for those of us who need this book yesterday, but this post is intended to whet your appetite. We firmly believe this book will be one of the best small group resources for all of us.
Chances are your pile of books you need to read is already too long, so you may be asking yourself, with so many books about small group ministry already (for instance, see this post about The Top 10 Books), why this book?
I was fortunate enough to talk with Steve about his book recently, and let me share three reasons why I am anticipating this book as a small group point person.
- It’s not based on a specific small group model. Most small group books outline what has worked for the author in his/her specific church. In Small Groups with Purpose, Steve Gladen shares how they have done small groups specifically at Saddleback. There is nothing wrong with this, as we can only speak to what we know and experience, but the major problem with these books is that we are left to glean a few insights or nuggets. Or worse yet, we are tempted to simply cut-and-paste, without considering our specific context. But in Planning Small Groups with Purpose, Steve takes the reader through 20 questions that he believes every small group point person needs to answer in order to come up with a 12-18 month strategic plan for our specific context, which leads me to my second reason.
- The book is designed to help us escape from the tyranny of the urgent. Steve has noticed that far too many small group point people do not have a plan or that they are being aimlessly knocked around. There are always groups to start, fires to be extinguished, administrative tasks to keep up on, and the list goes on. But without a strategic plan, these tasks are simply busy work, which sooner or later will wreak havoc on our soul. This book gets us asking the big questions, like how are you connecting people? How are you growing people? How are you investing in leaders? How are you reaching new people? And how do you sustain this ministry for decades?
- Finally, it’s intended to bring others into the process. This book is not intended to be worked through alone. Rather, Steve encourages you to gather some key leaders and work through together. Invite other leaders to help you craft your strategy. In so doing you will already have 3-5 leaders who can help cast the vision and influence others.
We are all overwhelmed with the task of ministry, but at times we need to step back and look at why we’re doing what we’re doing. And this is what Steve Gladen wants to help all of us work through. So look for Planning Small Groups with Purpose on bookshelves this summer.