“Community is an instrument of worship, a weapon against sin, and a tool for evangelism – all for the exaltation of Jesus.”

This statement from the Introduction to Community: Taking Your Small Group Off Life Support is both Brad House’s bold thesis for the book as well as his vision for what healthy small groups can and should be in the life of a church. House is a pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, where he oversees community groups (small groups) for the multi-campus church. In Community, House lays down a solid foundation for healthy groups, prescribes a “health plan” for redefining groups and making them life-giving (instead of life-taking), and sets forth a treatment plan for effecting change. Wherever your church’s small groups are on the spectrum, from nonexistent  to thriving, the suggestions and encouragement in this book can help you take them to the next level. The groups pastor seeking to make groups more effective will find tested and scalable strategies for enhancing the worship, discipleship and missional aspects of group life, regardless of church size. Small group coaches and leaders will find plenty of ideas and techniques for deepening group life and breaking out of the awkward and uncomfortable circle.

I particularly found helpful House’s chapters on “spaces” (which provides a missiological discussion on breaking barriers to the gospel and building bridges into the community) and “rhythms” (transforming groups from event-based communities of once-a-week meetings to opportunity-based communities that align our use of time with gospel-centered priorities). I don’t know of a group pastor who would not appreciate House’s inclusion  of a 7-week, 14-hour “boot camp” curriculum for implementing the concepts in this book. Members and leaders of churches of all sizes will appreciate and enjoy the history of community groups at Mars Hill and see how group life changed as the church grew through various levels of attendance.

Brad House has also packed Community with charts and diagrams that illustrate and help apply the book’s proven concepts and an extensive appendix supplies helpful planning resources such as a group plan, a neighborhood plan, a group replication plan, and job descriptions for leaders, coaches and group pastors.

I highly recommend this book for those who aspire to group leadership, those who are already leading groups, and those who coach and shepherd group leaders.

[Disclosure of Material Connection: Crossway sent me a free review copy of this book. I was not asked to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”]

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