This book is the product of the author’s quest and passion to find a way to do small group beyond the usual, “huddle and cuddle” Bible studies or self-help groups. His twenty-plus years of searching for effective ways to do small groups led him to the principles and practices found in this book. The author, M. Scott Boren, takes a totally different angle from the normal books that talk about strategies, technical skills and knowledge about the dynamics of small groups. What you find here is an attempt to reframe the entire discussion of small group experience.
His book is divided in to two parts. Part one lays the foundation for becoming missional, and what that looks like within the context of a small group. The author begins by identifying the life rhythms of small group life – rhythms that tells a story unique to each group. According to the author, all small groups play rhythms that tell one or more of the following stories
- The story of personal improvement
- The story of life-style adjustment
- The story of relational re-vision
- The story of missional re-creation
The goal of the small group leader is to guide the group make the kind of “music” that makes a difference in the world. In other words, to “learn the musical rhythms that line up with what it means to be the people of God.” These rhythms often conflict and run counter to those played by our culture and in this way, create both a challenge and a barrier for the small group.
The second part of the book contains the “meat” or what the author believes it means to be missional as a small group. Essentially, he answers these two questions. What’s the difference between the normal small group and the mission small group? What does it look like to live out our faith in a missional small group?
The author identifies three life-rhythms present in missional groups: 1) missional communion, 2) missional relating, and 3) missional engagement. The remainder of the book is devoted to explaining these rhythms and identifying the principles and practices that create and enhance these rhythms in the small group. When a group is able to play all three rhythms, the group is able to join God in His mission in the world – becoming truly missional at heart. It is no longer about the individual, or even the group, but about what God is doing in our world.
In my opinion, this section is worth the price of the book. In one sense of the word, these are practical spiritual disciplines for missional groups. This is not a book about structures or curriculums, and it isn’t a book that will help you answer the question, “How can I make my small group grow?” But it is a book that will help you reframe your thinking about what small groups are, and how they connect, or fail to connect with real life, and most importantly how they do or do not reflect the missional heart of God.
This is a “must read” for leaders who are involved in small groups, and for pastors and staff who are interested in starting small groups in their churches.
Director of Missions
Piedmont Baptist Association