Leading Bible-Oriented Small Groups that Thrive
“The remedy for all this is for the leader to display strong leadership. We leaders are not merely discussion-facilitators or chairpersons of a committee. We are goal-driven leaders, who need to steer the discussion subtly but deliberately towards an understanding of what God is communicating through the passage, and to the response that he demands. Be prepared, then, to play that role. Interrupt fruitless discussion, steer people back to the point, challenge and question contributions and generally take a lead. It may feel unnatural, especially when members are very much our peers, but the group will thank us in the end!”
This wonderfully well-rounded and balanced book manages to be both applicably detailed and concise. Saer has effectively written an accessible textbook for how to lead Bible-centred small groups, and his tools apply to a surprisingly broad set of church contexts (although seemingly tailored towards groups that disband after one year together). The reader therefore engages with his material visually; one rightly imagines these principles outworking in one’s own small group situation.
Iron Sharpens Iron is a broad and succinct overview of almost everything that the small group leader could want. Saer covers Bible reading, prayer, relationality, and bursts with practical wisdom, evidently tested and refined by life experience. He also exemplifies an impressive awareness of different learning styles, although arguably more advice could be suggested here; I am beginning to think that these differences are more significant than we may be tempted to believe.
The charismatic reader may well want advice on the exercising of spiritual gifts in a small group setting, and the pastorally inclined may want more on how to create a group that relationally carries one another’s burdens. However, as an introductory and thorough treatment of how to lead small groups that are centred on Scripture, I think the book has very few flaws.
Nothing in Iron Sharpens Iron was particularly new (reassuringly!), but certainly tightened and sharpened my own approach to leading a small group. Returning to my notes in order to write this review, I was re-challenged; it is to be returned to with some frequency, I think, as any textbook should be. I recommend this book to all who are small group leaders, and, better, to all of those who could be small group leaders. For seasoned leaders, there are always steps to improve, and for the new leader, this could be life-changing material.
It really is excellent.