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Four Books To Read as You Launch Your Small Groups

Updated: Apr 19, 2023

☀️This summer my boys joys (what I call my sons) and I will have summer school. They’ll be refreshing key learnings from the school year and I’ll be teaching Formation & Discipleship for Course of Study through Saint Paul School of Theology, my alma-mater. Pastors will be learning about formation and of course I’m going to speak to the role of small groups in churches.

☝🏽 First things first, deciding the books for the syllabus. Well, a couple are decided for me and I am sharing a few more to help you with your small group planning. The two syllabus books will be: Soul Feast by Marjorie J. Thompson and Formation in the Faith by Sondra Higgins Matthaei. Soul Feast is a practical read into various spiritual practices. I like this option because of the application it offers. I’ve not read Mattheai’s book, however she was a professor of mine while in seminary and I’m going to refresh myself on her work. I enjoyed her scholarship while in school.

👉🏾Teaching this course will spill over into the new CoWork Q&A’s that will start in May. Following the free workshop 90 Days to Launch Your Small Groups is an opportunity to work alongside other pastors and ministry leaders weekly to prepare or strengthen groups in your local church. I’ll be there to answer questions, offer feedback on bulletin or newsletter announcements, help you with emails to secure leaders, share what I’m working on in the course and in my own ministry of planning groups at The Gathering and more. The time will be yours to use however you need to move you forward in planning and I will be at your disposal. Expect synergy and inspiration but also tangible to-dos being checked out your list!

The next two books that influence my small group ministry are:

  • Activate: An Entirely New Approach to Small Group by Nelson Searcy & Kerrick Thomas

The key to building healthy, thriving small groups is to create a system that targets your Big Number. Ask yourself, “How can I get as many of my Crowd into small groups as possible?” Your Congregation is included in that effort, by default, but does not limit it. - Searcy & Thomas

  • Creating a Lead Small Church: Make Your Church a Place Where Kids Belong by Reggie Joiner, Kristen Ivy, and Elle Campbell.

“The most valuable resources you have to help people see God are the people in your church who know God [or are likewise striving in their God-relationship]." (Creating a Lead Small Church, 34).

The last is more of a concept than just one specific book. I lead a team of laity who help direct and train coaches and leaders of the small group ministry. So there are leading and teaching concepts and books that undergird how I show up in that role. First, mobilizing people is something that a year of training and work in community organizing taught me. Second, listening to the voices of those on the edges matters as I invite people to lead groups and listen for the places where support is needed. Third, context is vital. How groups look and sound may look different in a black church, rural church, or urban church to name a few. Being clear on context and learning from it rather than imposing one way of being and doing is imperative.

An intentional formational plan that includes some kind of healthy groups is key for the transformation of people in becoming more like Jesus. And now is the time to be thinking about how your church is ready to add more groups, leaders, and energy around discipleship. Sign up to get a solid start for the 90 Days Workshop on April 28.


Beloved, support me in aligning this most important ministry into the fabric of my leadership. I desire nothing more than to see your people transformed into your likeness. Help me to prioritize the planning and implementation needed to create an atmosphere where you can live, move and have your way in all of us. In Jesus name. Amen.


© Charity Goodwin, 2023.



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