The following is the foreword which I wrote for the excellent book Small Group Vital Signs by Michael Mack. For those of you who don't know, he is the guy who founded www.smallgroups.com about 20 years ago. He is an experienced pastor, and he knows what it takes to develop healthy groups. Let me bottom line this: Get this book on small groups and read it. You won't regret it.
BTW-You can also take a free online assessment that helps you measure these vital signs in your group:
Here's my foreword:
Small groups are part of life. I cannot remember a time in my life where there was not some form of small group. From the Kindergarten classroom organization, to lunchroom experience where we sought out the place where “my” people sat, to team sports . . . small groups are everywhere. And from my experience they were always a part of church life too. It just happened in what we called Sunday school. We also had home Bible studies and committees. Because small groups are part of the warp and woof of how good living works, it’s only natural that the church would get stuff done in and through small groups.
With the focus on the centrality of small groups over the last 20 years, they have moved beyond just being a natural way of organizing activities as in the church of my childhood. Now they form the base of church operations. We are truly seeing the reality of what it means to be a church of small groups and not just a church with small groups.
But this question remains: What are we experiencing?
That’s where the book you are now reading steps up to the plate. It’s as if the bases are loaded. We’ve gained a clear understanding of our need for community on third base. On second, we’ve got excellent structures to organize group life and train leaders. On first, we have thousands of group leaders in churches all across North America. And up to bat is Mike’s encouragement to focus on seven important aspects of healthy group life. If the wisdom and experience found here is heeded, it will drive in all those runners. Grand Slam!
The church deserves more than people gathering in living rooms every week. We need people who live out healthy missional living, which this book describes. Small Group Vital Signs is more than a strategy manual. It’s a life manual that can make all the difference in the way God’s Kingdom is revealed in your neighborhood.