Book Review: Leading Life-Changing Small Groups by Bill Donahue
“Leading Life-Changing Small Groups” by Bill Donahue addresses the leader’s role in establishing and developing a Biblical Community. He begins with how to establish a small groups purpose and vision. This might seem too independent from the associated Church and I would recommend that any Small Group assume the associated Church’s purpose and vision. However, the specific purpose and vision of the Small Group might differ regarding how it will reach out to new members, serve within and outside the Church, and identify specific mission service projects.
His succeeding chapters highlight excellent insights into the leader’s role for himself and then an apprentice. Every leader can improve his listening skills, accountability and leadership style. Donahue provides a series of suggestions on how to grow. Then, in the next chapter, he moves directly into developing an apprentice, which is essential if the vision is to grow individuals and grow the influence of small groups. Every leader is a spiritual parent, who must consider how to raise up those who will participate in and multiply small groups.
He has an excellent discussion on creating a covenant or agreement for the small group gathering. Additionally, he addresses the strategy for growth and what ingredients help that process. Following that, he delineates what the meetings should look like and what the outcomes should be. He has a great, lengthy and helpful list of ice-breaker questions. His section on dealing with conflict was helpful, but could have drawn more from Scripture on some of the mechanics.
Leaders should read through this in order to identify small group dynamics. It will be much easier to learn the easy way from Donahue’s suggestions than the hard experience of small group hard knocks. People get their feelings hurt too easily, misunderstandings develop too quickly and people often jump to wrong conclusions. A leader must be a spiritual parent who can discern the heart of people and that doesn’t come immediately. Donahue’s resource and experience will develop discernment for successful small group leading.