2018 Book ReviewsReviews

Book Review: Activate – New Approach to Small Groups

About The Book
Church leaders want to know how to make their small groups work. Drawing from the success of small groups at The Journey Church, Nelson Searcy and Kerrick Thomas debunk the myths, set the record straight, and show how church leaders can implement a healthy small group ministry that gets the maximum number of people involved and solves many of the important problems facing churches of all sizes. These practical strategies will produce life-changing results.

About The Authors
Nelson Searcy is the founding and lead Pastor of The Journey Church. He’s the author of more than 75 church growth resources and 12 books.
Kerrick Thomas is the Teaching Pastor at The Journey Church and regularly co-leads training events with Nelson Searcy.

Publication Date: March 6, 2018

Book Review
The idea of small groups is not new to the body of Christ. In fact, small groups have been around for years and over time many different ideas have emerged concerning not only the effectiveness of small groups, but how best to work small groups into the life a church. Catch phrases abound – Are we a church of small groups – or – a church with small groups? Should we have nothing but small groups and then meet corporately as a church once a month? Once a quarter? Maybe the church should only consist of small groups. In other words, the subject of what do to with, and how to do small groups in the life of the church is not new. In all honesty, throughout the span of my ministry, I’ve been on and off the small group merry-go-round a number of times. One of the most disturbing aspects of some past small group teachings revolved around the idea that if you didn’t have small groups in your church, you were a failure. On the others side of the coin some small group teachings promised the world! Just follow our small group pattern and your church will grow. If I dug far enough into my library I could probably find some binders and books full of small group promises, that never came to pass.

Activate is a breath of fresh air when it comes to the topic of small groups!

Someone recently picked up my copy of Activate and said, “You must really like this book. I can tell, it’s full of notes not only on the inside cover and throughout the book, but on the title page as well”! The subtitle of the book is An Entirely New Approach to Small Groups. While it is a new approach on some levels, on other levels it’s a combination of past methods and thoughts on the topic. While the entire book is well written and worth the read, there are three areas which make this a standout book on the topic of small groups;

  1. The Free Market small group idea.
  2. Defining small groups as a social gathering place.
  3. A detailed calendar process helping the planning of small group semesters a success.

Without going into great detail on the above points, the Free Market idea revolves around the fact that people within the church – potential small group leaders – can come with their own ideas for the small group they would like to lead. While there should be a framework of established topics, this leaves room for creativity and groups that otherwise may never be thought of. The second point redefines the purpose of small groups. In the past the small group concept revolved around a place where people can share their most intimate secrets. Reality is, this seldom happens in a small group. When viewing the small group as a social gathering opportunity, closer relationships will naturally grow out of the social gathering. The last point some will get excited over and others won’t. For me, as one who likes detail and planning, the simple idea of having a planning process in place year round, is very helpful. Instead of treating small groups as a ministry on the side, this helps create an atmosphere of the importance of small groups in any ministry.

Overall, Activate is well worth the read and an incredible resource for ministry leaders looking to incorporate small groups into their ministry.

For those who’ve been around the block a few times in the area of small groups, Activate is both refreshing, and helpful. While some of the ideas presented may be familiar, this book helps breath new life back into them. For those new to the small group concept, Activate is a must read if you’re looking to start a healthy small group ministry. But, the best aspect of this book revolves around the fact the authors don’t say this is the only way to do small groups. Instead of saying this is the magic book to help bring life to small groups, they repeatedly say, these are ideas, make them fit and work in your own church. There’s no one way to incorporate small groups into the ministry of a church, but Activate will certainly give you some good tools, ideas and concepts to get you started.

Activate – Available on Christian Dot Com – Click Here

Enjoy the read!
Dr. Rus

Special thanks to Graf-Martin Communications for supplying review copy.


2 thoughts on “Book Review: Activate – New Approach to Small Groups

  1. I really like the concept of examining the usefulness of small groups. My own opinion (without having read read the book, of course) is that small groups are essential within today’s mega church environment. Many people can go to church for years without having a relationship with anyone they sit beside on the pew. Developing personal relationships within a small group setting is especially needed in this isolating not-so-social media season. I also believe that for up and coming generation, small group interaction is crucial in developing face to face relationships-not just on Facebook.

    1. Hi Resa;

      You are right on target with your thoughts. That’s one of the cool aspects of the book that I really liked when discussing the idea of a “social gathering”.

      Thanks for your comment!
      Dr. Rus

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