In spite of her gifts as a communicator and writer, Heather Zempel is truly humble. She admits her mistakes and paints a picture of stumbling through the maze of small group ministry and leadership, but her passion and heart are also very clear. She loves people and isn’t afraid of a little mess – and in some cases a lot of mess. She doesn’t try to prescribe any particular model for building community but rather draws on her experiences (sometimes very funny) to give the reader some helpful tools for gaining a better perspective on your particular situation.
Here are some of my favorite quotes:
“I decided a couple years ago to stop trying to strike a balance [in my life] and to pursue life in rhythm instead.”
“People can find legitimate community and be discipled outside our structures.”
“Most people come into groups looking for social space; we encourage leaders to aim for taking their groups [beyond that] to personal space; and we hope individuals will look for intimate space opportunities with a select few inside the group.”
“We need to ensure that our routines don’t become routine.”
This is the best book I’ve ever read on small group ministry! If you’re a part of a small group or want to be, you should read this book!
Heather is actually a family friend, (As a child, Miranda played football with her every Thanksgiving. Mike was the all-time quarterback.) but. . . . well, nevermind – I can’t deny that I’m biased to this book, but it’s still the best I’ve ever read on community groups.
Miranda and I went to Dallas last weekend for the Right Now conference. It was a perfect way to get away and refocus ourselves on God. It just seemed like a good time to get away to think and dream and pray and talk about our future a bit. At this time in our lives, with our future so up in the air, we know we’ve probably got some tough times ahead of us. We wanted to use this time so that we could enter this time as healthy as possible so we can be more prepared for whatever the future holds. The conference helped us to get confirmation about a few things and God used many of the speakers to really encourage us on a deep level.
Here are some of the quotes I wrote down from the conference: (They may not be exact quotes – some are, but some are ideas expressed by the speakers which I wrote down as closely as I could.)
“If people follow you, will they get to Christ?” – Tim Ross
“Is there anybody in your church who is your written epistle?” – Tim Ross
“Small group = the purest form of the church. And the church exists for the world. Therefore, our small groups should exist for the world. Why do we build them for the benefit of the church?” – Alan Danielson
“Jesus’ small group met on the streets, in the bars, everywhere they went. It was the exception, not the rule to meet in a home.” – Alan Danielson
“If we aren’t traders, we are traitors to God.” – Alan Danielson on trading in the american dream for God’s.
“I never learned anything talking.” – George Barna quoting Lou Holtz
“Leadership is about bringing the danger with you.” – George Barna quoting Erwin McManus
“Get them out of their comfort zones and believe in them more than they believe in themselves. Anyime you push an individual toward greatness, it’s because you believe he or she is capable of greatness.” – George Barna quoting Lou Holtz
“Scripture doesn’t say anything about a middle road. It’s clear there’s a narrow road and a broad road, but no middle.” – Francis Chan
“Imagine the fellowship you’d have if you were actually able to be crucified and suffer next to Jesus – looking Him in the eye as you suffer together.” – Francis Chan
“It doesn’t matter how many people are in a church or how great the worship is. God asked for a family – a body. That’s what we should strive for.” – Francis Chan
“There are ways to do church that no one has thought of yet.” – Mark Batterson
“Unbelief = putting circumstances between you and God. Faith = putting God between you and circumstances.” – Mark Batterson
“Neurology shows that the older you get, most people shift from right brain thinking to left brain thinking over time. Kids don’t have much experience stored in the left brain, so they live their lives in their imaginations.” – Mark Batterson