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Sticky Church

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  791 Ratings  ·  88 Reviews
In Sticky Church, author and pastor Larry Osborne makes the case that closing the back door of your church is even more important than opening the front door wider. He offers a time-tested strategy for doing so: sermon-based small groups that dig deeper into the weekend message and tightly velcro members to the ministry. It’s a strategy that enabled Osborne’s congregation ...more
Paperback, 201 pages
Published October 2nd 2008 by Zondervan (first published October 1st 2008)
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Jul 22, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: spiritual
His premise is that you grow a church by having all your small groups be sermon based, and by "closing" them - you enroll at the beginning of each semester and then you basically lock people in with a covenant and no opportunity to switch groups, thus "closing the back door" of the church. meh. it's some good thoughts but i'm not sure i jive with it completely. i don't like the idea of trying to get people to stay in "our church" - the church is God's and not every body is right for every person ...more
Apr 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
the book would need to be adapted for my context, but I think it's an intriguing concept, at the heart...first, the idea about how a church closes the back door of the church is intriguing. we concentrate so much on inviting and welcoming newcomers that we might not pay attention to what keeps people engaging and growing in a congregation. I have learned and tried a variety of small group ministries, but I like the idea of the sermon-based small group as the foundation of small group ministry in ...more
Nov 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
I love this book. Sticky Church talks about how North Coast Church gets people to stick in their church by developing lasting close relationships through sermon-based small groups. They work hard to close the "back door" by attracting 80% of their church attenders to small groups. I also went to the conference...loved it!
Joey Roper
Jun 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Joey by: Mike Neglia
Shelves: church
We are in the process of preparing for small groups in our church. A friend of mine suggested this book to me. I really liked it and I thought it was a very practical book. It is now time to take some of the things shared in this book and prepare for our coming small groups. Excited to see what the Lord will do through them!
Michael Galarneau
Jul 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book contains one of the best principles of church growth I have heard in a long time.It also presents a model for small group ministry that is very different from the prevailing Cell based model. If you are like me, and find cell ministry to be culturally irrelevant, then you may find Osborne's sermon-based small groups and focus on significant relationship building better suited to your cultural feels. Even if you are a strong adherant to cell based small group ministry, the principle of ...more
Dennis Thurman
Aug 21, 2017 rated it liked it
So many churches have issues with members sticking with them. The back door needs to be closed. The ideas in this book offer practical help in how this can be done. It is an easy read. The lessons are drawn from the experiences of Osborne and his North Coast Church. I wonder how it works in a different setting, community and church culture. The preparation of the questions and resources for the small groups seems a daunting task. More help there would be a good revision for this book.
Oct 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars
I certainly don't agree with everything. It was probably 75% Great and 25% of it I thought, in my own philosophy, was iffy.
It gives many great insights and is helpful in many areas.
Osborne has much wisdom to share, even if I don't always agree.

I would recommend the book to Christians in leadership positions.
Rob Markley
Sep 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christian
Of course the context of San Deigo mega church is not the same as everywhere, but all the same he really convinced me on the merits of sermon based small groups. Extremely well thought through and presented.
Feb 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Osborne presents an interesting model for church growth that has an emphasis on small group ministry and relationships. I am a campus minister, not a church leader, but I did walk away with some ideas for our Christian community on campus, namely on ways to "close the back door." I also learned about the methods that the church I attend has employed and the reasons behind them. I don't know whether this method works, but my church has been growing.
Steven Bullmer
Jan 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Larry Osborne built his church on the foundation of small groups, and he writes a very persuasive book that when small groups are the foundation of a church (as opposed to a program, or a strategy, or a side dish to something else given a higher priority) that the church becomes "sticky;" and by that he means people stick to each other to love, nurture, and encourage each other, and that most people don't want to leave a church where they find that experience.
Among the many things I found insigh
Dec 29, 2010 added it
Shelves: eastlake
This book promotes a multi-year small group system, based around sermons – very different from how we operate at EastLake. Below is a quick summary of the application points, but I after reading, I am even more convicted that to enable our mission, “To help people find and follow Jesus Christ aka Dispense Hope”, we are running the right type of small group program.


• The North Coast Church mission: “Everything we do is aimed at helping the Christians we already know grow stronger in Ch
Jun 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: professional
I met Larry Osborne many years ago when I was looking for a pastorate in California. He and his church had purchased a strip mall and were slowly taking it over as their church grew. I thought it was a great idea at the time. I'm pretty sure that they are not still located in that mall, but was good to see that Pastor Osborne was thinking outside the box way back then.

Sticky Church is about small groups that are meant to facilitate deep and lasting friendships among the individual church members
Doug Dunbar
Nov 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Osborne discusses small group ministry from the perspective of those who attend, not those who imagine it. He's pastored a church that has utilized and tweaked their small group ministry over decades. He shares with us why certain common small group models don't work, and why they don't work.

It's refreshing to read a simple approach to small group ministry that makes implementation something that is possible and not really all that complicated. One of the strengths of the book is that he doesn't
Henk-Jan van der Klis
Larry Osborne neemt de tientallen jaren ervaring van North Coast Church met gemeentegroei en celgroepen als vertrekpunt voor Sticky Church. Kernboodschap in het eerste deel van het boek is om niet alleen de voordeur van de kerk op te zetten (evangelisatie-acties, diensten voor zoekers, etc.), maar ook om de achterdeur dicht te houden. Netto groei van de gemeente is anders niet mogelijk. Om die achterdeur dicht te houden en dus een sticky church te zijn, is het belangrijk binding tussen mensen to ...more
Joe Cassada
Feb 24, 2011 rated it it was ok
Quick read. Osbourne writes with humor and a conversational tone. This is not a biblically-centered work. Scripture was rarely cited and was not the basis for the work. Basically, Osborne pastors a big, California mega-church that used to not be very big. This book is his reasoning as to how they were able to sustain growth, namely through sermon-based small groups.

Osborne's book has some helpful tips and ideas, but it wasn't worth the $18.99 sticker price. It was fun to read this book in juxtap
Greg Moffatt
Aug 21, 2012 rated it liked it
A thought provoking read, though it does come across as an aggressive sales pitch for sermon based small groups; and it rings of critical cynicism which is popular in Christian writing, though some is well founded and aimed.
My take aways were:
The value of sermon based small groups, and well written appendices with templates or models to be kindling for the fire of a strong small group ministry.
Why a small group model may not be “working” in your church, whether it be the Willow Creek model , th
Peter Voorhees
May 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I like this book very much. Mostly because of the accessibility Larry Osborne gives by his "coffee talk" style of writing. It is very practical and a very down to earth approach. The book is very much about "sermon-based" small group ministry. One of the appealing points about doing small groups is the connectivity people have in participating in them. As we live life together as Christians in community, we stick to a local church, serving, loving, growing, and reaching out to those around us wi ...more
Apr 13, 2016 rated it liked it
Every church leader needs to spend some serious time considering the "back door" of their ministry. What is it? How can they avoid it? For Pastor Larry Osborne, this was the churchs anemic small group ministry. The whole issue was seemingly resolved by 'sermon-based small groups.' These are an excellent idea, as they get the whole church talking about the same thing. However, the 'circle of awkwardness' still exists. You know, when your small group stops having fun chatting about the ballgame be ...more
Jen Chieh Cheng
Jul 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book on small groups for churches

Good thought provoking things to consider for any church. Helping church leaders to consider how to close the backdoor and help those who come stick around is something that we all need to look at. It's easy to focus on the front door and I think that is what we have done and what a lot of church "programs" do. But our goal is to help people make it to Heaven, not just usher them in and move to the next people to usher in.

This book was also an easy rea
Feb 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
The basic premise of this book is that sermon-based, short-term sessions for small groups are THE most effective way to retain people in your church. There is a lot of truth to this. Activate by Nelson Searcy addresses many of the same things that Larry Osborne writes about. This book spends a lot more time discussing the philosophy and vision of groups as opposed the practical implementation than Searcy's book does. Chapter 18, "Why Cho's Model Didn't Work in Your Church" may be worth the price ...more
Steve Miller
Apr 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
I read Sticky Teams just after reading this, so the two books are blurring together for me. As I recall, these comments are relevant to this book.

I have heard proponents of small groups in churches before, but this book helped me understand how critically important they are. More importantly, this book was the first that showed me how churches must focus on what they are about and be willing to shed things, even good things, that do not fall in line with their focus.

Making the groups "sermon-bas
Sep 10, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: church, leadership
Another oh um church leadership book. Basically argues for sermon based groups anecdotally. It has a some good tips and helpful simple questions to help you think through a small group ministry. However, as always it is context dependent. Best parts of the book is his assessment of Cho's church growth model towards the end and in the beginning the argument to close the "back door" of a church. Not a bad book but not a great one either. Overrated I would say and worthy of an afternoon skim but no ...more
Patrick Hamblin
Jan 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Easy read on how North Coast Church in San Diego County implemented its sermon-based small group ministry. I'm not all the way convinced the small groups need to be sermon-based but I agree with many of Osborne's ideas on establishing small groups, developing leaders through apprenticeship (as opposed to one-on-one mentoriing or classroom setting) and that the "one anothers" of the Bible can be best practiced in a small group.

I would recommend this book if you are in a small group, want to know
Shawn Willson
Apr 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
I don't think I like the title of the book. It isn't necessarily about various ways to make your church "sticky." This is simply an argument for sermon based small groups. After finishing the book, the concept of sermon based small groups intrigues me. I hope to try it some day in the right church environment, but I would do so to enable my church to better apply the sermons and not to primarily grow the church our deepen relationships. Larry Osborne one again writes an easy and enjoyable read. ...more
Philip Meinel
Dec 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: faith, performance
We recently launched small groups at our church based on this book, and it is going very well. I will be a facilitator for this next session, so I was given this book for reference. It is a very good read. There is no pressure to fit your small group program to a specific mold, just facts and experience to lead you to form an excellent program. I am excited to be a part of it. This is exactly what we have been craving at other churches (5 others) where we were members. The churches were all doct ...more
Alex Nolette
Feb 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Larry Osbourne knows that there are countless books on how to get more and more people through the doors of your church, so he decided to write a book on what will keep all those people around. Osbourne has learned through experience that doing sermon-based small groups well help to close the "back door" of the church. For the past few decades he has seen about an 80% small group attendance rate among his congregation of thousands. We at Mercy Hill have employed a lot of the wisdom in this book ...more
Michael Vincent
Osborne is biased toward sermon-based small groups, but talks about many important topics concerning assimilating people into the life of the church. There is much helpful information about small groups throughout the book. I especially appreciated his emphasis on the need to be sensitive to the many time commitments in the lives of participants and leaders. A helpful read no matter what your small group philosophy.
Randy Elster
Jul 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
The premise of this book for church leaders is that the best way to "close the back door" of your church (keep people from leaving) is to have sermon-based small groups. This means that instead of studying other books, each small group uses Sunday's sermon (along with study notes the church prepares) as the basis of their study. Osborne does make a compelling case here and you can't argue with their success at North Coast Church in San Diego.
Evghenii Sologubenco
Jan 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christian, leadership
Very good guide and perspective on small group ministry in the church. The author presents a case for sermon based small groups and give some evaluation of the other small group models as less effective. The book is written in a positive tone and from personal expereince. I highly recommend this book for any pastor considering or currently applying a small group model. This book will provide some answers and will file the vision for balanced discipleship in church of any size.
Apr 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: churches, pastors, homegroup leaders
If you are part of a church that has small group or is considering small groups I HIGHLY recommend this book! I think the model which is proposes makes perfect sense and is well explained. The author does a good job of promoting the reality that the model can't just be copy/pasted into another context - it needs to be adapted. One of the best chapters is toward the end when he explains why the Korean small group model won't work well in the US.

Great stuff!
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“Empowerment without a platform is like responsibility without authority. In too many of our churches, we offer discipleship training and leadership training without providing any significant platform for people to do the things they’ve been trained to do. This is especially true in our larger churches.” 2 likes
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