Making Small Groups Work by Henry Could and John Townsend written in 2003. This review was written for this blog to help Small Group Leaders.

Summary of Making Small Groups Work

The book sets forth some lofty aims in terms of audience: “1) The pastor or overseer of small groups who needs a simple tool to train his or her small group leaders, 2) The person who desires to lead a small group but needs to know how, 3) The members of those groups who desire deep life change, 4) The people in the lives of group members who can be reached as a result of the members having had a good experience” (14-15). In my view, the aim is too broad. The authors divide into 6 parts in order to deal with those different audiences. Part 1, How Small Groups Help People Grow, contains basic descriptions of biblical evidence for small groups, what SG leaders are trying to do, the fact that SG leaders need Grace, Truth, and Time, and the benefits of growing (spiritually) groups. Part 2, What Happens in a Good Group, describes the ideals that show in a healthy small group. They become family, and have connection with each other. They have discipline and structure in meetings. They pray for one another, provide accountability, forgiveness, support, mentoring, space for grief, healing, confrontation (when necessary), modeling Christ’s behavior, accept each other’s weaknesses. The authors argue that this whole thing is discipleship. While this part has several chapters, it is only 40 pages, so the topics are not dealt with thoroughly. Part 3, Starting a Small Group, gives practical tips on doing just that. Cloud and Townsend describe how to: Decide on the purpose and type of group; Choose Study Materials; Design the Frame; Select the Members; and Establish the Ground Rules. Part 4 deals with the Responsibilities of Group Facilitators. Several are described, such as: Balancing Grace, Truth, and Time; Process; Listening; Providing Safety; Clarify and Ask Questions; Confront; Set Limits; Be an Authority; Require Integration; Allow Silent Moments; Interpret Themes; Symbols, and Meanings; Help Contain Strong Emotions. Again these are practical chapters which are short and to the point. Part 5 deals with the responsibilities of Group Members. This part seemed out of place since group members don’t tend to read books about leading SG’s. For SG members they recommend that one: Expect the Unexpected; Be Known; Really Listen to Each Other; Give and Receive Feedback; Learn to Love; Practice Obedience; Make Positive Changes; Learn New Skills; Discover and Develop Gifts; Discern Harmful patterns; Confess and Repent; Take Risks; and Grieve. Part 6 is very practical in addressing How to Deal with Problems in Groups. Issues addressed include: Neediness; Noncompliance; Passivity; Shut Up; Aggression; Narcissism; and Spiritualization.

Analysis of Making Small Groups Work

The Book provides many helpful tips for those new to the idea of small groups, or new to leading small groups. That is where the real contribution lies. This is a basic book that deals with issues at a very basic level. This work does not deal with anything approaching theoretical models but stays at the practical level. I can envision using this as a training resource for new SG leaders, but not as something I personally want to think much about or keep around.

Where to Buy Making Small Groups Work

You can buy this resource wherever books are sold, but if you click the link to Amazon you will help me out. Making Small Groups Work

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