She also offers helpful correctives when it comes to reading Scripture together (Are you reading just to know more, or is it transforming your heart?) and the purpose of gathering together (Is your primary purpose friendships or helping one another experience life change?).
One of my favorite parts of the book is Barton's corrective about "strangers" that feels especially poignant in light of recent news. She recommends the discipline of inner hospitality—a way to welcome "the other" and listen to his or her perspective. Whether welcoming people of different ages, ethnicities, or denominations, we could all learn to welcome others with this kind of openness. In fact, the church could lead the way in showing the world that it's possible to be unified in diversity.
This book is perfect for anyone in small-group ministry, and could even be used by a dedicated small group looking to go deeper together. Each chapter has personal reflection questions and great questions and exercises for a group to work through together. For the group that's constantly saying, "I wish we could go deeper," this book is the answer. Life Together in Christ points the way to deeper community, deeper connection with God, and deeper mission. While it's attainable for those willing to do the work, those content with mediocre small-group experiences won't have the passion to pursue it.
—Amy Jackson is managing editor of SmallGroups.com.