Growing People Through Small Groups by David Stark and Betty Veldman Wieland is an excellent resource for churches and individuals interested in principle-based, small group ministry. Just as people are individualistic, no two churches are exactly alike. This truth may be lost in small group ministries, which are based on a model format that encourages control and compliance. Stark and Wieland are firm believers that principle-based small groups create an atmosphere of trust and support that allows the Holy Spirit to transform people's lives from inside out. It is their thesis that "the Spirit works best in the context of freedom within boundaries of accountability."
Read this book and learn how to be God-centered and people-related. Tap into your God-given talents and passions and create a small-group atmosphere that motivates people to rearrange their schedules just to be part of it. Discover the nine principles of small groups, the way to differentiate between age of life and stage of life, and the natural cycle that small groups follow. Break out of the mold and watch believers grow in their faith and nonbelievers seek the truth through the power of small group ministries. Gain insight n turning into the Spirit and seeing through God's eyes. Develop the art of small group leadership and management.
Pastor David Stark, the founder and Director of Training for "Church Innovations," has led numerous workshops and published several church growth resources. Betty Veldman Wieland was the international director for "Coffee Break" and currently is involved with Christian Reformed Home Missions' small group ministry. With their combined decades of experience, they offer valuable instruction and guidance. They begin each of the ten chapters with real-life stories of small group situations. They then explain how to implement the principle that caused these particular situations to succeed and how to avoid the pitfall that caused failure. They end each chapter with questions designed to help the reader take action related to the teaching.
Stark and Wieland encourage readers to develop their small group on the foundations which begin every successful endeavor in the church -- being rooted in God's will, diligently studying His word, and holding each other accountable to God's vision. They provide focused instruction on growing people rather than programs; on meeting the needs of diverse sets of people; on allowing people and groups to grow in stages; on learning how to grow, nurture and transplant; on how to assume the role of a leader; and on how to get the church management to support the small group leaders.
Using the analogy of a nursery with a variety of gardens and greenhouses, the authors effectively teach how to "grow" rather than "build" small groups. "With the focus on growing people," they explain, "it's a new day for small groups. We need a process that (a) takes seriously how to draw out the dreams and passions God lays on the hearts of His people and (b) provides an avenue to reach the community they serve."
The only problem with this book is message overload. Several principles were repeated often, and they could have used fewer real-life examples. It's a longer book than was necessary, making it somewhat laborious to read. However, it is a book I can recommend to anyone who desires to inspire other believers to spiritually grow and to reach out to an unsaved community through small group ministries. -- Rhonda Maller, Christian Book Previews.com
A New Vision for Small Group Ministry
Help people thrive and develop their spiritual gifts when you start a small group ministry with God’s leading and people’s needs in mind rather than with program and structure.
Straightforward, informative, and practical, this people-based strategy works for smaller churches as well as larger ones.
Praise for Growing People Through Small Groups:
“David and Betty have articulated ideas that have been working here at New Life Church since 1994. Empowering people in ministry around their own interest and passion will expand the influence of any local church.” --Ted Haggard, Senior pastor of New Life Church, Colorado Springs, and president of the National Association of Evangelicals
"This dynamic fresh approach to small group ministries breaks exciting new ground as it identifies the underlying principles of helping people grow spiritually in and through small groups…. I wholeheartedly recommend it." --The Rev. Dr. Roberta Hestenes, International minister for World Vision International and author of Using the Bible in Groups and From Committees to Community