Leading Small Groups in the Way of Jesus by M. Scott Boren (A Book Review)

M. Scott Boren has written another helpful, thought provoking book on disciple making. I appreciate his simple, though meaningful, approach to small group life.

LEADING SMALL GROUPS IN THE WAY OF JESUS is a next-steps book for current small group participants. It answers, “What’s supposed to happen with groups?” and, “How do we actually share a meaningful life together, listening to and practicing the Way of Jesus?” Boren writes several insights and practices, things I resonate with and have even practiced a little. It feels great to read and resonate with something he’s been practicing.

I most resonated with Boren’s words about great questions and how curiosity (more my word than his) leads to nurturing disciples of Jesus. He writes:

“[We must] develop eyes to see and ears to hear. For that, leaders need to ask questions and foster conversations. When we ask good questions, we provide opportunities for people to discover for themselves the radical nature of the kingdom of God” (p.54).

“We do not [really] “make” disciples. We are formed as disciples in community together as the Spirit works in us” (p.61).

“We cannot force people to enter the way of Jesus. Many of them may agree with the vision, but that doesn’t mean they actually ‘hear’ it. This is where the questions are so important. Listen to how people respond. Who is already asking questions like these? Who is expressing frustration with the status quo? Who wants to talk about distinct ways of following Jesus? Who is willing to put some extra thought and time into answering these questions?

“The goal is to work with people who already have a sense of urgency to experience a different kind of group life. One way to determine this is to lead people through a short-term experience…” (p.62-63).

Boren would then add that by focusing on people who are already hungry and thirsty for the kingdom of God, nurturing their desire, kindling their flame within, will in turn bring life to others. This idea reminds me of Thomas Merton’s analogy of the Desert Fathers and Mothers who upon fleeing to the desert were not fleeing people but recognizing that society and the “christianity” present was a sinking ship. Someone needed to get a foot to shore in order to reach a hand out for rescuing. I think this continues to be the largest need in the western church today. Many who are faithful to Jesus wonder how the religiosity they see relates to Jesus and Jesus’ Way. It just isn’t connecting. Some say it’s a sinking ship and they’ve swam out to get a foot to shore, and then they’ll toss a rope our way.

If this is how you see it too, I think Boren’s book will make you happy.

Dear Grandmother

You’d have turned 101 today and we, the family, would have asked again, “Tell us a story from when you were a young girl,” just like Matthew used to ask.

We still ask for those stories, you know, and we flip through pages till we find where we wrote them down. We do. We find them and smile, remembering our childhoods with you, our mother.

The Bare Maple

October’s luminous, flaming maple
stands almost bare
with a few worn, brown
leaves for covering.

Her beautiful red dress
now thin and tattered.
All she had was taken,
blown away.

She, with beauty deep within,
will let go of what she treasured,
what drew our eyes to her,
and she will wait.

There is something God can do
in the season of Lent.

Contemplative Prayer by Thomas Merton (a Book Review)

Merton provided words for what I was experiencing and what I wanted to nurture in the life of prayer. More than devotional stick-to-it-ive-ness, I felt and wanted to continue to feel drawn to simply be with God.

But, while my heart desired more than accountability or discipline, I’ve also known by experience that, for me, the sense of being aware of God’s presence often occurs within the frame of my disciplined life. When I am making space, clearing time, attentiveness to the God who is always present occurs more freely. The opposite happens when I slip out of disciplined rhythms or Continue reading