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Community: Taking Your Small Group off Life Support (Re:Lit)

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  612 ratings  ·  58 reviews
Community within the church today is hemorrhaging. Attention spans are dwindling, noise levels are increasing, and we can't seem to find time for real relationships.

The answer to such social fragmentation can be found in small groups, and yet the majority of small groups--at least in the traditional sense--are often not the intentional, transformational community we really
Paperback, 253 pages
Published September 7th 2011 by Crossway Books
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Greg Balzer
Feb 13, 2013 rated it it was ok
While this book contains a great deal of insight into the best means and methods of creating and managing a community group, I am having a hard time making headway in reading this book. Brad House is a creative idea factory regarding community groups, but I am skeptical by nature, and probably need both more time and scriptural support to completely "own" a number of his concepts.

I have to give kudos to House for both innovation and organization. I just wish he did a more complete job of backin
Joseph McBee
Jun 02, 2012 rated it it was ok
While I found the book helpful in many ways I also found it complex and rather heavy handed.

I guess, in my ignorance, I thought small group ministry was more organic and Spirit-led than this book seems to prescribe. I just have a hard time seeing the apostles and early church pastors breaking out charts and graphs and laying out five principles, six rhythms, four descriptors, and six whatchamacallits in order to be intentional about building community.

Then again, one cannot argue with the succes
Nov 21, 2011 rated it liked it
Inspired thinking through some issues surrounding a small groups ministry. My only beefs with it are that it probably could have been about 25% shorter and there were some things that he didn't talk about much that I wish would have been longer. That's not a contradiction.

I would have loved to have heard what Mr. House had to say about things like:
How is mutual confession beneficial and what are some pointers/pitfalls surrounding it?
What are some practical ways to avoid burn-out in SG leaders?
Ben Zornes
Oct 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: christian-living
Unfortunately, this book was an extended "sales-pitch" for how Mark Driscoll's Mars Hill organized their community groups. So, both a little bit dated, and considering the demise of that church, a little bit ironic. House certainly offers some good, common sense ideas for how to avoid, as he memorably calls it, "the awkward drum circle." He advocates for leaning away from too programmatic approach to small groups and encourages organic, natural means of engaging in fellowship and Bible study in ...more
Tim Pollock
May 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Life-changing book.

This was such an interesting read. I literally hated the first two chapters. But as I kept reading--and rereading--it just started clicking...and I eventually grew to love it.

And so, yes, this book is about community groups, but it's also a book about how to be a good neighbor. And for someone who just moved into a new home, this was perfect timing for me.

Really looking forward to incorporating this into the life our our church, city, and neighborhood.
Nov 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
A great book with a theological foundation, practical purpose, and solid reason for building Christian community into the local church. Excellent read! Useful for building and training leaders.
Craig Hurst
Oct 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
“Community within the church today is hemorrhaging (p. 18),” says Brad House in his new book on small groups titled Community: Taking Your Small Group Off Life Support. Sadly, though the church is a community of believers it often does not function as a community let alone a life giving community that fosters growth among its members. Though small groups are often utilized to help foster community within the local church it often becomes a place to just share prayer requests, discuss some verses ...more
Dec 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
I had to read this book for a seminary class on discipleship and family ministry. The practices in this book are more than worth taking a look at if you are either considering beginning a small group ministry or revitalizing one. The idea that our small groups should be more than another event on the calendar and one that builds community, discipleship, and seeks to reach our neighbors and friends with the Gospel is a goal that all churches and small group ministries should have. Organizing thes ...more
Stephen Temple
Dec 31, 2018 rated it liked it
A different approach to small groups than what I am familiar with. That is a good thing though. They place a strong emphasis on neighborhood-focussed mission by community groups. This is perhaps something many Western churches are lacking. Worth a read, but you'll have to judge for yourself how much of what he proposes you would want to implement. ...more
Tim Garber
Jan 30, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: christian, fellowship
I was largely unimpressed by this book. It feels like House sees the church as an event to attend and community groups as the real place where people do life together. According to this model, people could only focus on people in their community group and ignore the rest of the church. His book is also riddled with absolutes and grandiose statement that discredit his arguments. There are some ideas that are good to takeaway and apply in a small group setting like discipleship, mission, and time ...more
Aug 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Overall, I found the insights in the book to be very helpful. Not all of them apply directly to my church, but I can see how the general concepts apply. You'll definitely want to read the last two chapters to see the principles in action. ...more
Nathan Brewer
Jan 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is the most comprehensive and helpful book I have read on community groups within the church. From a theological, corporate, and personal approach, Brad House simply yet exhaustively makes a case for the type of gospel-centered communities for which the church is desperate.
John Hsieh
Jun 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
The book makes a very strong case for outreaching to the community as the primary focus for community group. It paints a very exciting vision for community group and challenges the way most of us view community/small group ministry.
David Skinner
Oct 29, 2016 rated it liked it
House takes the ideas from Total Church and works them out in his PNW context. It was helpful, but he communicates in a way that almost emphasizes community as the point of the church.
Mar 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Excellent book for those who are looking to rejuvenate, start or restart their SG atmosphere at church.
Read this with my community group. The discussion guide didn’t align very well with the chapters in this book, which was confusing. Most of the content was fairly familiar to me already.
Karl Kranich
Feb 09, 2020 rated it liked it
Definitely worth reading if you're thinking through the community group strategy for your church. ...more
Jun 08, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Too idealistic, and formulaic.
Aug 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Seeing small groups as the basic building blocks of a church
Sep 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mars-hill, my-library
The writing of this book was inspired by the many who have inquired about the success of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Wa (, which holds community groups as the heart of the church.

I found this book to be very insightful with healthy conviction and practical application. I would recommend this book as a must read for anyone who wishes to lead missional community and grow disciples of Christ through their church. For those without a hard copy to browse through, here is a brief run
Feb 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Dare I say it? He's associated with Mark Driscoll's church. I thought this would be a quick fan through and done sort of current day I-am-so-dang-hip we call our Bible studies "community groups," and we do not have churches, no backwards way! we have campuses sort of book. You know? long on words and sayin' nothin'. It's not. It's good. I took notes. I am ready for real community now.

What would it take for small group, aka Bible Studies, to be life giving instead of that mid week event we all ki
Courtney Huskisson
Aug 20, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction

“Community is an instrument of worship, a weapon against sin, and a tool for evangelism--all for the exaltation of Jesus.” (19)

“The local church is a community of regenerated believers who confess Jesus Christ as Lord. In obedience to Scripture they organize under qualified leadership, gather regularly for preaching and [corporate] worship, observe the biblical sacraments of baptism and communion, are unified by the Spirit, are disciplined for holiness, and scatter to fulfill the Great C
Jan 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Chances are, if you're reading this review, you have been a victim of a terrible small group. You've experienced the soul-sucking icebreaker questions like, "If you were stuck on a desert island, what book would you bring with you and why?" Ugh. Maybe you've been in a group with an oversharer, you know, that person who has to give you details from their trip to the dermatologist. Shoot, you've probably even been in a group with 'that guy', you know, the one who was the Sunday School standout and ...more
Oct 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Loved this book... primarily because it was very practical.

Admittedly I was skeptical at first reading a book about how a huge mega-church did "community"... primarily because many attempt to program life and program community (resulting in over programming). But it wasn't like this.

House did a great job and really opened the door to the heart of missions at their Church in Seattle, which is all about Jesus. In turn this book also helped opened my heart to my mission field and local context and
Jeff Bettger
Oct 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I am so Glad Pastor Brad House finally wrote this book. His ability to take a situation analyze it weigh the pros and cons, and then make a decision based on what is best for the entire church is one that I have always appreciated and admired. I have honestly never met anyone who can do it as well as Pastor Brad. This book shares the process of many of the decisions we have made at Mars Hill Church over the years in regard to how we currently do community. It speaks practically and theologically ...more
Jul 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: church
Good book overall with a good balance between theological and philosophical underpinnings and practical things to think through. I wish it would have been more robust theologically but that isn't the scope of the book. The author is clear enough to accomplish what he intends to. This asks a lot of group leaders and is obviously set in a growing church with a consistent ministry overall. Probably the best balance between structure and organic of missional communities I have read for my tastes. Th ...more
CJ Bowen
Jan 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Very helpful treatment of the small group/community group idea. House sets forth the many strengths of the geographically centered, sermon-based group model. The first several chapters were foundational, and thus probably familiar territory for many. The second section was the heart of the book, and while the sections described how community groups can reproduce may be wishful thinking for many small churches, I found his suggestions to be wise and helpful. I found his chapter on understanding a ...more
Sep 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
I highly recommend Community for people like me who have become discouraged about community groups in the church. Brad House does a good job of diagnosing the problems and an excellent job of casting a vision of how such groups can function as a true asset to the local church, in both equipping and encouraging members and reaching out to the community at large. The last part of the book gives suggestions for implementing a small group ministry. He does point out that this section is descriptive ...more
Daniel Forster
Aug 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book is written to pastors & church leaders who want to improve small group ministries, and it will definitely do that. The author is a pastor at Mark Driscoll's church, and he speaks from his experiences (both mistakes and victories) as a leader of their community groups.

It starts by re-thinking the philosophy and theology behind small groups -- something that is often overlooked because they're just something we do, something that is part of the church. After establishing this foundation,
Joshua D.
Oct 17, 2013 rated it liked it
Fairly helpful book on small group structure in the life of a church. Mostly aimed at larger churches, but applications can be made to churches of all sizes. Most helpful for me was the section on scalability, making sure that your structures are in place with room to grow so you don't have to overhaul everything later on.

The question I'm still left with is the best way to offer on-going training and support to community group leaders. House offers a model for this, but it seems to be me to be
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