I had the privilege of meeting Eddie Mosley several years ago at one of the first Purpose-Driven Small Groups conferences put on by Saddleback Church. A mutual friend invited both of us to lunch before the conference started, and I enjoyed talking with Eddie so much that I had him speak about his experiences and passion for small groups on camera so that I could share it with the growing SmallGroups.com community. It was a great conversation, and I was excited when I went back to my room to edit the raw video.
But, alas, I was quickly disappointed. I had hooked up the mic improperly, and there was no audio—just Eddie moving his lips with no sound coming out. I told Eddie about my gaffe on the last day of conference, and he was gracious enough to re-do the interview.
All that to say: I know from experience that Eddie Mosley is a good man and a passionate pastor. But as I sat down to read his book, Connecting in Communities, I wondered if those qualities had infused the pages in a way that would make the material helpful for churches and small-group leaders around the world.
I'm glad I was not disappointed.
Here is the subtitle for Connecting in Communities: "Understanding the dynamics of small groups." Talk about ambitious! The ministry we call "small groups" has become so amorphous in recent years that I doubt an entire volume of books could help us understand everything.
Fortunately, Eddie is only interested in helping us understand the basic elements of what a small-group ministry should be.
That being the case, he starts with a brief overview of his own story and a quick snapshot of his ministry at LifePoint Church in Smyrna, TN. Thankfully, Eddie's attitude is not one of: "Here is what I have done in my church to launch a successful ministry, and here is how you can take the same steps to clone what I have accomplished."
Rather, the book starts off with a list of questions that pastors and church leaders must ask (and answer) before launching a community ministry. These questions are basic and practical, yet they pull no punches when it comes to forcing people to think about what they are trying to do in terms of small groups. Fellow reviewer Mark Howell wrote, "I really think for a lot of churches, this chapter alone would make the book worth buying." Agreed.
For example, imagine senior pastors out there being confronted with this question first: "Are you in a small group?" Boom.
The remainder of the book walks pastors and church leaders through the vital elements and decisions necessary for a successful small-group ministry. Here is a quick look at the chapters:
- Small Groups Impact Communities
- What Do I Do First?
- Pragmatic Strategy (Organization)
- Adapt, Don't Adopt (Assimilation)
- Sharper Than You Think (Leadership Development)
- Higher Thinking, Now (Curriculum)
Now What? (Developing Issues in Small-Group Ministry)
In the book's Forward, Bill Donahue describes Eddie Mosley as a "convener," saying: "He brings together people, ideas, strategies, and experiences from a range of group models and churches, adapts them, adds his own, and then shares what has worked."
Without a doubt, that is the strength of this book. It doesn't present a lot of revolutionary or cutting-edge ideas; rather, it outlines the best of what has worked for many churches over many different regions. And it talks about these principles in a way that is practical and down to earth. Those who read this book will think: I bet we could do this!