2.8 Stars Out Of 5
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Meets Expectations:
2.6 out Of 5
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  1. 1 Stars Out Of 5
    Saddleback Self Promotion
    September 25, 2018
    Cleric Girl
    Quality: 1
    Value: 2
    Meets Expectations: 1
    Planning Small Groups with a Purpose by Steven Gladen

    I was quite excited for this book, thinking it would help reignite thinking about how we run our small groups. But the book falls quite short. The author, a pastor at Saddleback, a megachurch, is the author and writes the book in context of a mega church (and a wealthy church, given his reference to small groups that meet on yachts). The majority of readers are not from megachurches, but smaller churches who are likely struggling with finances and commitment. He writes about the importance of quality, but focuses more on quantity. It also seems more like a glorification of Saddleback than anything else. I was incredibly disappointed by the lack of presence of Spirit and instead focus on a structured business model approach to a spirit-based program. There are some helpful tips woven throughout but overall the book was quite disappointing.
  2. Age: 45-54
    Gender: Male
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    An interesting structure-based approach to small groups
    September 11, 2018
    theChristianReviewer
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: Male
    Quality: 5
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 4
    There are some very good points that you can get out of this book. However, I was honestly looking for something that was a little less structured, or business model oriented, when it came to setting out to implement a small group ministry. Think of it more like an organic-type of environment vs. a structured model. That is what I was hoping for.

    This book is written by Steve Gladen, who heads up the small group ministry at Saddleback Church (pastored by Rick Warren, Purpose Driven Life author). I'm sure with their size and resources, this model may work well for them, however for the majority of churches out there being a small church, I'm not so sure how well this business model approach would work.

    Don't get me wrong, you will be able to get some points out of this that are very worthwhile and helpful, but if you're from a small church, parts may feel frustrating since you likely will not have the resources at your disposal to do some of these things like they were able to at Saddleback Church. It is very clear that the author feels that the way they did it at Saddleback Church will work for any church of any size or denomination, and he very often references back to the Purpose Driven books written by his pastor, Rick Warren.

    If you are not a fan of Rick Warren, then you may not appreciate this book as much, however, if you are, then you likely will get a lot out of this book. I don't personally subscribe to a highly business-modeled approach to church let alone small groups, but I can only speak for myself as I think something more organic is a better approach. Maybe the answer is somewhere in the middle though with some structure, yet still organic in nature.

    I received a copy of this book in exchange for this review from Baker Books and all opinions are my own.
  3. Arizona
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: Female
    1 Stars Out Of 5
    Saddleback Church's Business Model
    August 6, 2018
    thechristianscribe
    Arizona
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: Female
    Quality: 1
    Value: 1
    Meets Expectations: 1
    This book might as well have been titled "Saddleback Church's Small Groups Business Model." I was eagerly awaiting this book after I requested it for review but was disappointed when it arrived and realized that it was written by Saddleback's small group director.

    This book or workbook is pretty much Saddleback's model for small groups and the techniques they've been using for years that seems to have infiltrated all the mainstream churches across the country. I have not read the Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren but the author seems to mention it quite a bit and has heavily influenced this book.

    While I agree that small groups need to have some organization, I do not like how this book makes small groups into business models. Instead of relying on the guidance of the Holy Spirit, they implement man's wisdom and techniques to produce growth. And manmade growth is no growth at all; this is what leads to full but empty churches and false converts. In other words, if you want to gather a crowd and want numbers (not a church, with genuine believers) then this book is for you.

    As another reviewer said, we are better off with a small church that truly is saved vs a building crowded with people.

    While the author seems to care about the state of the spiritual lives of the people, his reliance on manmade techniques says otherwise. The "purpose" they refer to are in growing numbers, not discipleship which is what small groups are supposed to be about.

    I received a copy of this book from Baker in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own.
  4. 3 Stars Out Of 5
    Planning Small Groups
    August 5, 2018
    Scott, M.Div. Student
    Quality: 3
    Value: 3
    Meets Expectations: 2
    Steve Gladen, Planning Small Groups With Purpose: A Field-Tested Guide to Design and Grow Your Ministry (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2018). $18.99.

    Steve Gladens book falls in line with the Saddleback Church and Rick Warrens Purpose-Driven model. I have many difficulties with the book regarding its approach to ministry and underlying philosophies. Most readers will not be like the author and praying for ten-thousand small groups in your local church. Gladen argues that we can and must be concerned for quality and quantity at the same time. All to frequently the desire for large numbers come through.

    I would recommend this book to those involved in small-group ministry as a resource. Elements of Planning Small Groups can be incorporated, such as the tools, questions, and desire for groups of Christians gathering to fellowship. Small groups should never be the tool to draw in new believers. Nevertheless, Christians are citizens of the kingdom of God and are united together by our adoption into Gods family. For many reasons the world should see us gathered together outside of Sunday mornings and in each others homes. If you dont take anything else away from this book, please take the desire for imitating Acts 2:42-47.

    I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes. My comments are independent and my own.
  5. Indian Trail, NC
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: male
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Planning Small Groups With Purpose
    July 27, 2018
    Michael
    Indian Trail, NC
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: male
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    "Planning Small Groups With Purpose" is a great guide for anyone wanting to either build or strengthen a small group (either at a church or a group of believers in someone's home or other location). Around 230 pages, the book coves many topics, including:

    1. 5 things practiced by the small group described in Acts 2.

    2. Characteristics of the types of small groups.

    3. 10 commitments to make concerning a small group.

    4. Goals for and planning a small group.

    5. Suggestions for helping people grow and eventually lead a small group.

    6. Suggestions for sustaining a small group.

    7. Ways the small group can serve in the community.

    Also included is a helpful study guide with questions, suggestions, and other pertinent information. Very readable and smoothly transitions from topic to topic, this title will be a helpful future reference. Recommended. I was given a review copy by Baker Books in exchange for a fair review.
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