Sometimes a book title blindsides me. This one did. Let’s see if the title of this book ambushes your imagination like it did mine…. Simple Small Groups. Having read every book on small groups I can get my hands on, I’m pretty numb to new book titles. I’m even more concerned that the next book on small groups will be more of the same old, same old, another tweaking of Carl George’s, meta-model. Not this time. I grabbed the book immediately and I wasn’t disappointed with the intent or the content. Bill Search, the team leader for Community Groups at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky (by the way… this is a church averaging 18,000 in attendance each weekend), has composed an symphony, a strategy that gets all the instruments of small group life in sync with one another. And you don’t need to hold a doctorate in small group leadership in order to conduct the band. The outcome (if all Bill suggests is as functional as he says it is and I believe it’s possible since it is so SIMPLE) has to be amazing!
Bill simply states that a small group should give attention to three things… Connect, Change, and Cultivate. He defines each: “Connecting is growing a sense of connection with an identified group of people. Changing is the spiritual and relational renovation that transforms us into the likeness of Christ. Cultivating is the missional lifestyle. He then goes on to tell you how you and your group can make all three of these things happen in… simple terms.
If you’re a traditional small groups aficionado like myself you’ll be stretched as Bill gives permission for groups to feel no pressure to become intimate friends. A few excerpts… “… we don’t have to share the deepest, darkest parts of ourselves to truly connect.” and “If I could change one thing about small groups as they are currently practiced, it would be the expectations that members will become close friends.” Just maybe Bill has raised reality above idealism. You need to get the book and decide for yourself. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
I would really like to hear from you. If you’ve read the book and have opinions, please post them here. Or maybe you’re concerned about the ideas that are revealed in the two sentences from Simple Small Groups I’ve quoted. I would really like to know if you agree or disagree with his assumption concerning small groups and intimacy.