Just over a month ago, Steve Staten posted a quick introduction article about a new guidebook “Small Group Leader Secrets” by Travis Albritton. I chose to buy the hardcopy version and liked it so much I decided to post a review of it. The book is less than 100 pages long and I was able read through it in less than three days. So first of all, I can attest it is an easy read. It is enjoyable, understandable, practical and Bible-centric. Even though the chapters do not end with reflection questions or quiet times, readers are given something better – practical tools that you can download from one of Travis’ websites called unlockyourgifts.com The downloads are also linked at iTunes if you want to listen to the free podcast of the book. Looking at the podcast times on iTunes below, you can see that the book reads through in about two-and-a-half hours.
One of the first things you notice is the broad stroke Travis uses to let his book have a broader appeal beyond ICOC circles. There is a noticeable absence of common jargon from our circles. Instead, you’ll see terms like protégé instead of “discipleship partner” for example. This, in and of itself, makes the book interesting and helps one to reflect on what they’re reading. Additionally, right at the outset, Travis mentions the “Pareto Principle.” This came from an Italian scholar and engineer who pointed out in the early 1900s that 80% of the property in Italy was owned by 20% of the population. In economics, this became the 80/20 rule. “Small Group Leader Secrets” promises to show you the 20% you should focus on to get the 80% results. It is a great principle and the book keeps you focused on that “right stuff.”
In the spirit of Steve Covey, there are “Seven Habits” or secrets that are expounded upon in the book. And the first could be called “Begin with the End in Mind.” Travis titled the first chapter “Clarify Your Objective.” This chapter coaches you to engage your group and get on the same page together. Here the term “niche” is used instead of “ministry.” There is a handout as well that you are directed to get online for this secret. If it is tough for your small group to fine a specialized ministry or niche, because of multiple variant demographics, this tip also includes a complementary “Problem/Solution” section within the objective. The leader can leverage that portion of the practicals to align the saints behind a common goal. Along with finding your group’s niche, it helps to define what transformation you are hoping to achieve for the people in your group. Chapter 2 is self-evident, titled “Plan Great Events.” It spends time discussing the practicals of planning and having a calendar that all can agree to and work from. There is a download for this as well. The third chapter “Find Their Sweet Spot” is all about gifts. It has a great six-page handout to generate individual thought within the group. It helps people find out where they fit in best. It is always good to have people survey their own abilities and spiritual gifts. The proposed process uses the wisdom of scripture, discernment and input from others in your group. Incidentally, Travis’ website Unlock Your Gifts is designed to help people grow spiritually. Here is the Facebook page for it as well.
Chapter 4 gives great advice to “Lead Great Discussions.” I have many great friends in the Lord who agonize over preparing discussions. This section and the download templates will prove to be super helpful. My personal trepidation level for creating discussions is usually “Zero or less,” yet this was the most convicting chapter for me. I tend to have too many points and do not prepare righteously. Travis does a great job explaining, convincingly, why that is not good. The next two chapters on relationships are also excellent. This is the heart of a great small group. We need to have each other’s backs and get close. “Build a Tribe” and “Form Deep Relationships” are the titles for these two sections; well written, practical and scriptural. Finally, Travis concludes with multiplication…”Raise up Leaders.” I sensed similarities to the vintage book by Robert Coleman The Master Plan of Evangelism and look forward to putting the ideas into practice with the group I lead. We know that Jesus used small groups to reach the world and it was good to be reminded that even small groups can be broken into smaller groups. The book is available in multiple formats and I would highly recommend it to any follower of Christ aspiring to lead, or lead better. Get your copy today and start focusing on the right 20%! Click here to order. Jerry Maday – Worcester, MA, USA firstname.lastname@example.org worcesterchurch.org