Item description for Biblical Foundations for Small Group Ministry: An Integrational Approach by Gareth Weldon Icenogle...
Overview Offering a much-needed foundation for small group ministry, Icenogle examines both Old and New Testament passages, discusses the early church's tradition and practice, integrates theological, sociological, and educational principles, and offers case studies and guidelines for training leaders.
Publishers Description Small groups have had a major influence on the growth of the church in recent years. They are an important place for ministry, community and discipleship. Yet all too often small group programming has taken place apart from consideration of its biblical underpinnings. Gareth Icenogle thoroughly examines both Old and New Testaments for the basis of small group ministry. He considers the texts in new ways, providing heightened understanding of their implications for ministry in the context of small groups. Then he turns to the early church to study tradition and practice. In addition, he brings an integration of theological, sociological and educational principles to the biblical text. All through the book, practical applications of these principles offer guidance for setting up and running a biblically based small group ministry program. Those who are working or who hope to work with small groups will find this one-of-a-kind book invaluable.
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Gareth Weldon Icenogle (D.Min., Fuller Theological Seminary) is the senior pastor of West Side Presbyterian Church in Ridgewood, New Jersey. He teaches the Doctor of Ministry course in small groups at Fuller and speaks on small group ministry across the United States and internationally.
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Excellent Resource Feb 7, 2008
Christian community in the nature and character of God is the framework for this extraordinary book on Christian small group ministry. Scripture from both Testaments supports the thesis that small group gatherings are both ontological and teleological, consistent with the spirit and intention of God's existence in community. The author emphasizes that humanity, created in God's image, is called to live and mature within small communities or groups. From the Creation stories, through the birth, ministry, death and resurrection of Christ, Icenogle reiterates that certain divine and human realities are uniquely communal where two or more persons come together in the presence of God (Mat 18:20). "Scripture begins and ends with God calling humanity into relationship with the divine community and with one another." There are three major biblical sections: before, during and after Jesus' life on earth. Chapters highlight biblical material relating to major small group concerns, such as covenants, leadership, communication, structures and ministry. General themes of God, creation, sin, covenant, Christ, Spirit, the church and eternal life are also explored in detail. In the Old Testament section of the book, there is a great deal of reflection on friendship, tribal, marital and familial communities, and God's struggle to create, re-create and participate in that shalom (wholeness). For example, Icenogle says the book of Ruth is about three women and a man, related by family ties, who share in the faith history and ancestry of Jesus. " Their face-to-face relationships are a classic small group case study that deals with grief, friendship, love, loneliness, journeying, self-sacrifice, sorrow, security needs, bitterness, personal faith, grace and reconciliation." God as a small group, as three persons in one is described as a dialogue with other members of the God-self of the Trinity as an intracommunicating group who also created a similar existence for humanity. Yet, all human groups display human brokenness, says Icenogle. He cites the Cain and Abel story to underscore the shattered relationship between two brothers. "The brokenness of every group would continue except that God refuses to leave us alone to self-destruct." By definition, the author says small groups are face-to-face gatherings of persons to be, to share and to act for the betterment of one another and the wider good of others, where God is the subject, and the groups are the vehicle for humanity to carry out God's will in everyday life. " Jesus changed human history through the process of forming an intentional small group of twelve. The various small groups around Jesus-of men, women, young, old Jew and Gentile, give a clear signal as to how God desires humanity to move into our salvation future." Icenogle asserts that God's perspective must be the centering reality of any Christian small group, where its members are invited to understand one another through God's eyes. In order for this transforming perspective to develop as a group ethic, the group must first invest deeply in the presence of God to define each relationship, through prayer, listening for God's voice, a continued intimate relationship with God, and further knowledge of the Scriptures. I highly recommend this book as a "must read" for pastors, lay leaders, consultants and professors as an excellent resource for intentional small group ministry.
A must read for any person involved in small group dynamics May 8, 1999
Gareth Icenogle not only shows some very good theological insight into the nature and dynamics of small group ministries, but also offers practical applications for many of these ideas. He lays fundamental groundwork to the topic of small group ministries and expounds with passion and clarity the need for this expression of spiritual formation in the church today.
This book can be appreciated everyone involved in this type of ministry, ranging from the seminary-educated clergy to the parishoner or lay leader in a church.