Small Groups Made Easy, by Ryan Lokkesmoe
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Bethany Books. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
It is always interesting to know what particular agenda a book has when it is being written. It should always be remembered that no book is written without reasons, often several reasons, and so the fact that this book exists indicates that those who lead small groups of believers are considered a large enough book market to cater to, which would suggest a target audience of thousands or ten thousands of people at the very minimum. I personally find that fascinating. The book, based on its contents, is clearly based on a desire to appeal to small group leaders with very little knowledge in basic and foundational biblical truths, as evidenced by the studies that are included, which are immensely basic material most suited to new believers who have no solid doctrinal and biblical understanding whatsoever. Such a focus on the basics and fundamentals is by no means a bad thing, but it is certainly a striking and unusual thing that deserves to be remarked upon. In reading this book I was deeply struck as well by the way that the author seemed somewhat defensively to comment about the small group format being the apostolic model for congregations.
This book is about 150 pages and is divided into two parts. The author begins with a defense of small groups as being an authentic and apostolic aspect of Christianity (1) and then spends four more chapters looking at practical starting points in running a small group (I), namely clarifying the role of a small group leader (2), dealing with various logistical matters like attendance and child care (3), dealing with personal challenges among group members (4), and also looking at spiritual concerns among the group (5). The next part of the book provides very basic and fundamental starter small group studies for the reader to use (II), on such subjects as the nature of God (6), grace (7), God’s view of believers (8), what faith in God means (9), how we grow spiritually (10), what is sin and how it affects us (11), how should we pray (12), God’s view on suffering (13), how can we repair broken relationships (14), how to view money and possessions (15), how to share one’s beliefs in personal evangelism (16), and how do we deal with doubts about God and the Bible (17). After this the book ends with some reassurances for the leaders of small groups.
In reading a book like this, the credibility of the author is of immense importance. As it happens, I am not unfamiliar with the writer’s work , as he has written two previous books that explore similar topics. As it happens, the author appears to be a small groups pastor for a large Houston church and seeks to use that experience as a way of encouraging others to be able to lead small groups despite a great deal of doubt about their own leadership skills. Some of the advice provided is immensely shrewd, including how to deal with needy members (as opposed to those genuinely in need) and how to address or cope with those who tend to dominate small group conversations. Admittedly, small groups are something I have familiarity with, mostly in an informal basis when it comes to small congregations that end up being small groups (as in rural Oregon congregations that I visit from time to time) or informal small groups of believers who spend a lot of time together in large part to discuss spiritual and biblical matters among other things. I wonder how many of them will find this book, though.
 See, for example: