Heather Zempel oversees the community life at a multisite church in Washington, D.C., a challenging population with one of the highest relocation rates in the United States. And yet under her leadership, National Community Church has become a model for creative, dynamic, deep small group ministry. Drawing from her background as an environmental engineer (including such bizarre experiences as monitoring a pig lagoon and the unintended slaughter of a hundred innocent fish), Heather Zempel assesses the perils and possibilities inherent in small groups and other environments for Christian community. The book helps leaders begin to see the inherent "mess" of such gatherings as raw material for arriving at something beautiful. Read this book and discover fresh insights into how we can support one another's unique paths to maturity in Christ while maintaining cohesion as a community and blessing the world around us.
Heather Zempel is the discipleship pastor at National Community Church in Washington, D.C. Before serving at her church, Zempel served in the U.S. Senate as an environment and energy policy advisor from 2001-2005. She has previously published including DVD leader guides with Threads/Lifeway. Zempel blogs at www.heatherzempel.com.
Community Is Messy offers a fresh perspective on the challenges all leaders face in building biblical community. Zempel draws on multiple disciplines to stretch our thinking on strategy, growth and discipleship. It is immediately in the top five on my must-read list for small group pastors and leaders!
author, Coaching Life-Changing Small Group Leaders
Honest, practical and rooted in experience, Heather's direction takes us to those earthy places that we face in day-to-day relational ministry. Her words go beyond platitudes and lead us down paths that point to wholeness in the midst of the reality of messy community. This book offers a fresh angle and creative hope to group leaders and pastors. Embracing this counsel will advance your community forward into deeper expressions and experiences of community. Buy it! Sit with it. Pray through it.
-M. Scott Boren,
consultant, trainer, and author of Missional Small Groups
If you could somehow blend equal parts Bonhoeffer, Mr. Wizard and 'Unsinkable' Molly Brown, you'd get something close to Heather Zempel. It would be a fascinating experiment, like those she describes in Community Is Messy. Stories of what worked (and what didn't) provide countless examples of how discipleship in community is usually nonlinear, often random and always messy. With deep insight and ample humor, Heather proves that 'mess' is actually a catalyst for spiritual growth.
small groups leader, Asbury UMC, Madison, Alabama, and chief innovation officer, thinkingsmall.net
Zempel openly shares her experiences--both good and bad--as discipleship pastor at National Community Church in Washington, D.C., and invites small-group leaders to embrace the mess of community life.
-Amy Jackson, Christianity Today, September 2012
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