I must admit I rolled my eyes as I read the title, Leading Small Groups in the Way of Jesus. I am somewhat fatigued with the volume of books dedicated to small groups. However, as I read through Boren’s book, it was different. Early in the book, he confessed to skipping a scheduled small group meeting! I was engaged. This is not simply a book on improving the mechanics of small groups, but on the soul (inner health) of small groups. If you struggle with the philosophy (why) or the theological support of small groups, you need to read this book. I was quite impressed with quotes from Nouwen, Bonheoffer, Brueggeman and Kierkeggard. The book is well researched and includes great insight on time, as well as listening. Boren identifies eight practices from the ministry of Jesus that create inner health in small groups. Each practice includes questions that help readers assess the health of their small groups on that particular practice. The eight practices include hearing the rhythms of the Jesus way, gathering in the presence, leading collaboratively, being yourself, hanging out, making a difference, fighting well, and pointing the way to the cross. The author uses the spokes around the hub of a wheel as a model to show the relationship of these practices. There is no priority among them, no linear layout. We do not outgrow them; they are ongoing practices that create small group health. The last practice was the highlight of the book for me. In that chapter, the author recounts a powerful prayer labyrinth experience that led him to the cross.

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