Why I take the time to write negative book reviews

My last blog entry was a book review that didn't go over so well with a bunch of readers, including one of the authors. It seems that herding members into homes mid-week to close the back door is the goal for most in this day and age and they don't like being criticized about it.

Too bad. I refuse to stop blowing my horn when I see books written about small group programs (instead of small groups being the church and being supported as the church).

What bugs me most is that their strategies do achieve a rapid small group launch, albeit as shallow as it can be. A well-crafted plan to launch semester groups and get 80% or more of the congregation is now possible with the help of a plethora of new books just released this year.

Small group enrollment and even involvement is not my idea of church. It's a retention strategy for consumer Christians, and I'm not interested in it in any shape or form.

Herding congregational members into semester groups also reveals a much deeper root issue about the churches whose pastors write these books: small groups are an assimilation tool to keep people coming back to the main event.

Friends, we've got to abandon the thought that small groups are supportive to something more important (the large group gathering) if we want to see people truly transformed from consumer to producer Christian (a minster with a ministry and a spiritual family with whom to minister).

Is the small group more important that the big group?
No. I didn't say that so don't assume it. The gathering of small groups for celebration, worship, and instruction is vital to their success. It's simply a matter of how the large group gathering is viewed... a bunch of individuals who may or may not be connected in a small group vs. a gathering of biblical communities. See the difference?

Look at any church where the small group are not considered "a ministry" of the church but "the ministry" of the church and you will see what I'm talking about. The weekend services are viewed by the lead pastor, staff, and members of the congregation as a gathering of the biblical communities (holistic small groups) for celebration. The small groups aren't opt-in for the bored or lonely: they are where the members find their membership in the body of Christ and their ministry to a lost and hurting world.

So, you'll read negative book reviews on my blog that are praised elsewhere for their thorough processes and methods... which produce the wrong thing and for the wrong reasons. The other reviewers just don't see that the small group is church, not a subset of it for those who are interested.


Paul Neel said...

Please continue with your honesty. I truly tire of reading only sparkling reviews of most every book that comes out. If the readers and especially the authors cannot handle some honest questions about their work I think it says more about them than anything else.
I could not agree more about the state of groups programs. We have been attempting to infuse that vision of the groups as not just a place to go on another night for about 3 years with some progress.
Thanks again for your work and honesty.

Anonymous said...

Well if the author of the book doesn't like the review it sounds like it could be a a pretty good review! Too many crappy small group books out there....