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Soul-shaping Small Groups

Kim V. Engelmann
IVP Connect, 2010
RRP $19.95

Reviewed by Brian Hoole, a minister of 15 years, currently in Hervey Bay, who has a strong belief in the importance of small groups, and a frustration at what often appears to be a failure of people to commit to them.

Kim Engelman writes in a narrative style that people will find easy to read and engage with.

She begins detailing some of her frustration in small groups and immediately draws many readers onto her side.

Having experienced the frustration of small groups that don’t seem to be going anywhere, Ms Engelmann affirms the importance of small groups but believes our current methods have work to be done.

Ms Engelman presents thoughts on how to help people engage with small groups.

The bottom line in all of this is that it must be about a personal encounter with Jesus and we need to encourage this in group settings and not just as a private encounter.

She notes the many examples in the Old Testament where much is done as community rather than individually.

Times of celebration – dancing, making music, feasting having fun – celebrating of God’s faithfulness.

The people prayed and discerned God’s will in community.

In trying to move from the theoretical to the practical Ms Engelman uses the Emmaus road as a paradigm.

There is the time where the two disciples ask Jesus to join them, the time of invitation.

There is the invitation to humble, authentic sharing – Jesus said what is going on for you.

What follows is learning to listen well as the disciples listen to Jesus.

The need to befriend scripture as Jesus unpacked it for the two disciples, and finally its about doing something with what we have received.

For the two disciples it’s about sharing the encounter with Jesus’ other followers.

The two phrases that give the summary would be: “It’s about knowing Jesus not knowing about him” and “It’s about experiencing God in the midst of the ordinary”.

The last third of the book has practical exercises that help you do it.

Overall an easy to read book that certainly has some good ideas that can only help your small group ministry though I would see it as building on what you have rather than replacing it.