12 Book Recommendations for 2019

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As leaders, one of our tasks is to continue to learn. I have heard it said that great leaders never stop learning. And in 2018, a number of your colleagues read some great books that they would recommend to you. So here are 11 books recommended by other small group point people in the Small Group Network.

  1. The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker (recommended by Steve Gladen): This book is an insightful and thought-provoking book that every small group point person should read. Priya argues that most of our gatherings are lackluster and unproductive as we tend to focus too much on routine when we should be focusing on the care of the people involved, which will help to create meaningful, and more memorable experiences. (The October episode of GroupTalk featured a discussion on this book. Listen here.)
  2. Planning Small Group with Purpose by Steve Gladen (recommended by Derek Olson): Whether you are brand new to small group ministry or a veteran, this book is a must read for every small group point person! Pulling from over 20 years of experience, Steve takes the readers through 20 critical questions that will help them create a strategic plan, that will accelerate the health and growth for their small group ministry!
  3. The Trellis and the Vine by Colin Marshall & Tony Payne (recommended by Chris Surratt): We spend so much time as ministry leaders working on the trellis (the structure) that we neglect the vine (the actual ministry). While having a solid structure for our groups ministry is important, it’s the personal ministry of discipleship that will change lives. We have to stay connected to the vine. (Chris was featured on the September episode of GroupTalk. Listen here.)
  4. Transformational Groups by Ed Stetzer & Eric Geiger (recommended by Tracey Ware): Ed Stetzer and Eric Geiger are seasoned small group practioners. In this book they share amazing personal stories about their small group experience, as well as providing concrete data from extensive research projects they have undertaken. It is a very practical, challenging and accessible read.
  5. Small Groups for the Rest of Us by Chris Surratt (recommended by Jon Laster): Reading “Small Groups for the Rest Of Us” helped remind me that we need to be patient. Chris Surratt writes, “If Discipleship is really the goal for our small groups, it’s going to take the long game to get it done. We cannot walk away from relationships when they start to become inconvenient for us.”
  6. The Kingdom Life edited by Alan Andrews (recommended by Jon Nitta): The beauty of the book is found in Keith Matthews question, “If you knew you were going to live forever, what kind of person would you like to become? (This is contra the usual evangelical question about dying tonight and where you would go). It’s a rare book that synthesizes spiritual formation and discipleship with great care and theology as it pertains to the gospel.
  7. Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller (recommended by Brian Allen Brunke, Nick Lenzi & Allen White): Often times we unwittingly promote small groups to meet a need of our people that doesn’t align with what our people actually need and/or want. In his book, Donald Miller helps readers clarify their brand (in our case, small groups) in order to most effectively meet people’s needs.
  8. Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Pete Scazzero (recommended by Josh Cooper): I enjoyed this book so much I read it three times this year. No other book in recent years has so deeply changed how I practice my faith than this one. You might think that based on the title the content is soft or too touch feely for you, and you’d be wrong. This book is anything but soft. This book addresses some of the deepest obstacles getting in the way between you and God. The subtitle says it all – it’s impossible to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature.
  9. The Art of Community by Charles Vogl (recommended by Steve Curran): Strong cultures help people support one another, share their passions, and achieve big goals. And such cultures of belonging aren’t just happy accidents – they can be purposefully cultivated, whether they’re in a company, a faith institution or among friends and enthusiasts. Drawing on 3,000 years of history and his personal experience, Charles Vogl lays out seven time-tested principles for growing enduring, effective and connected communities. He provides hands-on tools for creatively adapting these principles to any group—formal or informal, mission driven or social, physical or virtual. This book is a guide for leaders seeking to build a vibrant, living culture that will enrich lives.
  10. Dare to Serve by Cheryl Bachelder (recommended by Roger Carr): This book helped me improve my strategy by weaving servant leadership into it in ways I hadn’t thought about before. I did the group study of the book with my small group. It works!
  11. High Impact Teams by Lance Witt (recommended by Reid Smtih): Insightful book that is both challenging and comforting. I’m going through it now with my team and it is sparking some great conversations that’s raising awareness in ways that benefits everyone.
  12. And the book I read in 2018 that has challenged me the most is: Faith Formation in a Secular Age by Andrew Root. From Amazon: Questioning the search for new or improved faith-formation programs, leading practical theologian Andrew Root offers an alternative take on the issue of youth drifting away from the church and articulates how faith can be formed in our secular age. He offers a theology of faith constructed from a rich cultural conversation, providing a deeper understanding of the phenomena of the “nones” and “moralistic therapeutic deism.” Root helps readers understand why forming faith is so hard in our context and shows that what we have lost is not the ability to keep people connected to our churches but an imagination for how and where God could be present in their lives. He considers what faith is and what steps we can take to move into it, exploring a Pauline concept of faith as encounter with divine action.

Enjoy the sunny beaches of southern California, grow as a leader, strengthen your team & accelerate the health & growth of your small group ministry by attending our “Accelerate!” SoCal Small Group Workshop coming July 2019! For more info & to lock in EARLY BIRD RATES click HERE!