DJ's Book Rants

A Seminary student and pastor trying to find an outlet for all the books he has to read.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Community that is Christian

Julie Gorman’s book on small groups is a thorough and broad picture of what small group community can be. I found the early chapters to be less practical, but they challenged my assumptions. She opened my eyes in her chapter on individualism to just how self serving a small group can be. This chapter was not assigned, but it gave me incredible insights into the environment that we bring our big dreams of community into. This was not the typical “here is a model” book on small groups. I was challenge and equip in a new areas of group formation.
I don’t believe I had ever fully connected a persons personality with what they would desire from their small group. I had certainly not figured out how to lead each personality into a fuller experience of community. The implications of being an introvert or an extrovert were easy to identify. However, I benefited greatly from thinking about how a sensor and a judger would have different expectations. It was also helpful to work through how I could better communicate to both feelers and intuitives. I do not believe my goal is to please all these different personalities, instead it is my challenge as a leader to become more aware and sensitive to the needs of diverse people.
Each person Gorman quoted has produced a prolific book on the topic of community or small groups. What I appreciated most about her book was its combination of broadness and depth. The sections on conflict were especially helpful for me. To often I do not do an adequate job preparing my small groups for the conflict we will encounter. I was recently on a mission trip were the sending organization provided our curriculum. In all 4 of our preparation meetings we were told that conflict will be inevitable and given tools for how to handle it appropriately. The out come was that our group handled their conflict in greater health and speed than any other group I had previously been apart of.
I would suggest this book to anyone serious about becoming a better small group leader. Each chapter presents information in a variety of styles, and I was able to go deep in my areas of interest and skim what I would call the “standard group info.” I appreciated he consistent references to proven experts in the fields of community, spiritual formation, and small groups. As I have already mentioned I enjoyed her work on “The Big Picture of Community” as much as her practical section on “Group Development.”