Book Review: Creating Community (@AndyStanley and @BillWillits)

September 3, 2013 — 12 Comments

For those of you who have been around for a while, you may know that I have a passion for small groups and for seeing people connected and growing in community.  I’ve been to three or four groups conferences over the past decade.  I’ve been plugged into a group of one kind or another for the last fifteen years.  And I grew up in a house where small groups were modeled as a way to connect people to each other and to encourage people to grow in their relationship with God.  I’ve written more than a couple posts about small groups over the past six years.  In fact, one post is among the top viewed posts of all time:  Ten Things Every Small Group Leader Should Know.

For a while I was helping to lead in the small group ministry for our church, but I took a break for a few years due to other commitments and some other circumstances.  Recently, a friend reached out to me and began to rekindle my passion for group ministry leadership.  As part of our conversation, he passed along a book by Andy Stanley and Bill Willits about building a small group culture.

Creating Community: Five Keys to Building a Small Group Culture was written to explain the success that North Point Church has had using small group ministry as the center of their strategy for helping people grow in their relationship with God.  Creating Community was also written to help churches and church leaders to develop a course of action that could be vital in achieving the mission of the church.  Stanley and Willits share about the importance of moving church goers from the foyer to the living room to the kitchen.  They share some of their own experiences of what worked and what didn’t work along the way.  If followed closely, I believe their method for creating community will not only catapult groups ministry to a whole new level but it will propel local churches in their pursuit of living out the Great Commission and expanding the Kingdom.

Creating Community is a quick read.  And I would recommend it to anyone who is passionate about small groups, the local church, and connecting people in community.  Stanley and Willits are not simply trying to create another program at your church.  They are presenting a mind shift for how you do church in general.  North Point, where Stanley is the lead pastor, has grown by leaps and bounds and is having a tremendous impact on the Atlanta, Georgia area.  North Point’s small group culture is a huge part of this growth and impact.

Check out Creating Community by clicking the link below!

Are you in a small group?  How has community impacted your life?  What are you doing to invite others into community?

Jon Stolpe

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Christ-follower, husband, dad, engineer, manager, runner, blogger, sax player, group life fan, freelance writer, and the list goes on...
  • Steve Y

    Like you, we have also led small groups of some form at our church for a number of years. Some of been great and some have just been okay. We are trying something new this Fall, which is trying to bring the community into the church building for non-church events. Regardless, sounds like this book might be a great resource for us. Thanks for review.

    • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

      You’re welcome. I’ll be interested to hear more about your church’s initiative to bring the community into the church building. Have you talked about the need to go into the community first? What strategies are you using to get people into the building?

      • Steve Y

        We have talked about the need for some time, but really not just tried things. We will offer many free activities like breakfasts, babysitting during the holidays, story-time, car washes. We don’t know if the community will come until we try it. Our once a year community give away attracts 300-400 each year, so maybe the smaller, intimate things might also work.

  • David Paul Stolpe

    Our church is small and inherently a small group, but we are also intentional about how we practice community.

    • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

      I still think this would be a great read for you and leaders in your church as it challenges readers to think about how to be inviting to those who simply may be kicking the tires on your church.

      • David Paul Stolpe

        This is important for us to continue to chew on. More importantly I know that having a more missional presence in the community not for our own growth but as a reonsibility for healing and reconciliation is something we have struggled to establish. We have a handful of mission tasks and write some checks but we haven’t really connected to the community outside our congregation. Part of the reason is size. We are small and busy and struggle to get consistent participation in outreach from month to month. It is always a different group. The other big factor is location. I believe we are in an isolated setting that doesn’t have a lot of Surrounding need or obvious way to engage with the neighborhood around us. I think we need to be considering finding a new church to share space with in a community that gives us those chances. But writing checks isn’t really mission and outreach in the first person way we need to be involved in. This conversation has occurred before with no significant action resulting, it is a conversation that we need to be having again I believe.

        • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

          I think it’s a conversation that all churches need to have all the time. Living out the Great Commission is not a one time affair or a here and there kind of thing. It’s meant to be a way of life – a constant – for those who follow Christ.

  • http://deuceology.wordpress.com Larry Carter

    Our church is in the beginning of our yearly small group kickoff. We have new groups starting. Sounds like a good resource.

    • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

      This is one of the things I like about the fall. I love the fresh start!

    • http://deuceology.wordpress.com Larry Carter

      Yes I do. You can find it at deuceology.wordpress.com

  • http://chrisvonada.info/ chris vonada

    Andy Stanley and the people around him helped to change the church in a good way, their ideas on small groups are very valuable. Haven’t read the book but have been to North Point for their “Sundays” program (they don’t do this one any more) and also was at a North Point daughter church for several years. Small groups are where we really learn to build community by being disciple-making disciples. Your “ten things” list is excellent Jon!

    • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

      Thanks, Chris!

      It’s cool to hear from someone who has been around North Point in some form or another that this isn’t just stuff they write about – it’s what they do!