Fourteen years ago I began leading my first small group and quickly realized that I didn’t have a clue. Over the years I have been mentored by some of the greatest small group ministry leaders and thinkers through their books. Here are ten small group ministry books that have been most influential to me.
Small Groups with Purpose: How to Create Healthy Communities, by Steve Gladen
What is a Healthy Balanced Small Group? What Does This Look Like? Step-by-Step, How Can I Do This? These are a few questions this book looks to answer.
Building a Life-Changing Small Group Ministry, by Bill Donahue & Russ Robinson
Bill and Russ, along with the entire team at Willow Creek, have shaped how many of us do small groups. Here’s a practical guide to small group ministry in the local church.
Creating Community: Five Keys to Building a Small Group Culture, Andy Stanley & Bill Willits
Despite my natural bend to open groups, Willits won me over somewhat to closed groups when I heard him speak about North Point’s Stategy. Creating Community covers five big ideas: People Need Community, Leaders Need Clarity, Churches Need Strategy, Connection Needs Simplicity, Processes Need Reality.
I wish this had been available when I first started a small group ministry from scratch. It is a short yet pretty thorough guide to starting and running a small groups ministry in a local church.
Sticky Church, Larry Osborne
Not strictly a small group book, Sticky Church tells the story of North Coast Church and how it became a sticky church by choosing to a strategy of sermon-based small groups. Larry makes a great argument for why sermon-based groups make sense and how to go about implementing them in your church.
Transformational Groups: Creating a New Scorecard for Groups, Ed Stetzer & Eric Geiger
This book is based on the data collected by LifeWay Research to determine the common factors in churches who are seeing large percentages of people grow in their discipleship process. This book is filled with practical information that will help you lead a vibrant small group ministry and better communicate why small groups are necessary.
Howerton looks at how the changing social landscape affects small group ministry. Some of the areas covered include: leadership traits required for the new group leaders, shifting groups from an assimilation focus to a discipleship focus, why mission is so important for groups, changing mindsets, and how to create transformational groups.
Making Small Groups Work: What Every Small Group Leader Needs to Know, Henry Cloud & John Townsend
This book is a must for group leaders. It provides a game plan for how leaders can help their groups to grow spiritually, emotionally, and relationally. Cloud and Townsend provide insights into how small groups promote the individual’s growth.
Much has been made of the correlation between small group participation and discipleship. In this book Chris talks about how to facilitate connecting people currently on the fringes into healthy biblical community.
Walking the Small Group Tightrope: Meeting the Challenges Every Group Faces, Bill Donahue & Russ Robinson
This was the first book I used as a supplement to train small group leaders. It focuses on the tensions that exists in leading healthy groups. The six challenges are: Learning, Development, Relational, Reconciliation, Impact, and Connection. I find that these tensions always play a large part in the struggles or successes small groups and their leaders have.