Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The world cannot know...

I have great respect for the Anabaptist tradition within Christianity. It has influenced me in many many ways. Here's a great quote from an awesome article...
The world cannot know the unsurpassable worth of human life without a people who consistently work to protect it - in the fetus, in the convict, in the immigrant, in the soldier, and in the enemy.
Read the whole article here. Read the comments too.

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Very Practical Read...

Recently I received a copy of the book you see to your left - Small Groups with Purpose, by Steve Gladen. I have to admit I was a bit skeptical. Steve is the small groups pastor at Saddleback. He lives in a whole different "pastoral world" than me. They have over 3500 small groups in their church. That means that for every person I have in the pew on a Sunday morning, Steve oversees 17.5 small groups. But I have found that I really enjoyed and benefitted from reading this book. Steve doesn't present the "tried and true program" that will work for each and every church, but instead tells the story of what he has learned as they have wrestled with helping a church grow smaller as it grows larger.

He begins with focusing in on what exactly it is that we are to be looking for in a healthy and balanced small group. His blend of personal experiences and biblical focus makes this a strong section of the book. Some of his ideas supported what I have seen to be true in our context. Others challenged my thinking and helped me to move out of the rut that I have fallen into after 12 years of pastoral ministry.

The next section of the book is immensely practical as Steve begins to describe important steps in the development of a small group structure that would work in a church of any size. As I read these chapters I found myself could our church really do this? I had to laugh when I hit the next five chapters labeled "Step by Step - How can I do this?" Once again, I appreciated the practical principles that could be applied to any church setting, everything from assessing the spiritual health of groups to identifying and training leaders to developing an organizational infrastructure that supports what the groups are trying to accomplish.

Personally, the most valuable section of the book was the one dealing with how these ideas impact overall church strategy. These chapters helped me to formulate ideas on how to be a church of small groups, rather than a church with a small group ministry. They also gave me insight into what Steve calls their "Campaign Strategy". I'm not going to give details because you need to read the book, but this one concept alone was worth reading the whole book.

Overall, as I said, I was pleasantly surprised. I found this book easy to read and extremely helpful for what I do on a day to day basis in my role as pastor.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group.