Helping your small group serve missionally to make a local and global impact for God's kingdom can be a powerful experience! Fortunately there are lots of great resources to help cast vision, train, and equip you and your group. Below, I'll highlight some of my favorites.
These resources can help you understand the biblical "why" behind missional engagement, how to stay aligned with God in your approach, and how to develop consistent practices that lead your group beyond merely planning events and outreaches and into missional discipleship. You as the small-group leader can read these resources on your own to gain some valuable information, or you may read them as a group to talk through the important issues together.
This excellent book written by Brandon Hatmaker (who, along with his wife Jen, pastors a missional church in Austin, Texas, and has been featured recently on some HGTV shows) gives one of the best overviews I've seen. He explains how and why Christ-followers are called to serve our local communities. There are also a lot of practical steps and ideas on how to get started. Hatmaker also talks about what not to do when serving in the community, how to partner with existing non-profits, and more.
Even better—you can get the Barefoot Church Primer, a companion resource, to use as a small-group discussion and action guide. Each week the Primer gives Scriptures to ponder, questions to answer, projects to work on, and practical steps to take.
When Helping Hurts
Steve Corbett, Brian Fikkert
This book focuses more on issues of poverty, but it has become a classic over the last seven years. It has some of the best teaching out there on the well-meaning but less-than-helpful approaches we often take—especially as American Christians—to try to serve others. Without shaming readers, the authors offer better alternative approaches that really help. The book covers serving locally and globally, so it can give your group a great perspective on both.
There's also a companion small-group video study that you can use with your group. The study will challenge your group members to set aside their preconceived notions (and even some of their politics) and look at realistic, practical ways that help those in poverty with long-term solutions.
The Hole in Our Gospel
This book has become a staple on understanding what the Bible says about poverty and hurting people in our world, and clearly explains what Christ-followers are called to do about it. Stearns speaks from his own brokenness related to this topic. With great depth, Stearns helps readers understand why we are called to serve—which can help your small group catch a biblical vision for missional engagement. His sequel to the book, Unfinished: Filling the Hole in Our Gospel, moves deeper into practically addressing these issues and includes a participant's guide—perfect for using in small groups.
For the City
Darrin Patrick, Matt Carter Two church planters share their wisdom in this book about the call to restore and renew urban areas. They give a lot of the theological and historical basis for this work and do some future-casting to what will happen in our cities if we don't engage them with the gospel. Then they get real practical in how we can listen to our cities and respond. The authors make the incredibly important distinction between merely being "in" a city, and actually being "for" it in the way God is, which can help your small group make some great paradigm shifts, learning to see the place they live as their mission field.
The Externally Focused Church
Rick Rusaw, Eric Swanson
If you church vanished, would your community weep? Would anyone notice? Would anyone care? This compelling question is the foundation for this excellent book all about how to be a church that makes a tangible difference locally and globally. The authors talk about assessing the needs of your community, transforming good news into good deeds, and moving from mercy to justice—all great topics for a small group to wrestle through.
—Carter Moss is a Campus Pastor and Life Groups Director for Newbreak Church, a large multi-site church in San Diego, and an advisor for SmallGroups.com.