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Activate: An Entirely New Approach to Small Groups Paperback – June 2, 2008

4.5 out of 5 stars 63 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

If you are tired of being involved in a small group ministry that does not excite, fails to get people plugged in and takes a lot of energy to sustain but shows little results, then Activate is for you.  The strategies in Activate will help you remove many of the barriers and answer the questions in the way of life-changing small groups at your church, such as:
How do I get people excited about small groups?
How do I get 100% of my church involved in small groups?
How do I raise up and train enough small group leaders?
How long should a small group last?
How big should a small group be?
What does a successful small group structure look like?                                                       
How do I get small groups involved in ministry and evangelism?
With Activate, you will discover, and learn to implement, proven, strategic principles and strategies that will make small groups at your church successful!

About the Author

NELSON SEARCY and his wife Kelley founded The Journey Church of the City in New York in 2002. In a few short years, it has become a dynamic force that brings God’s message to over a thousand 20- and 30-somethings each week. Nelson trains church planters through his own seminars as well as through Saddleback Church training events. He is the publisher of the online resource Evangelism Online and prior to starting The Journey, he was the founding director of the Purpose Driven Community at Saddleback Church. Nelson is the coauthor with Kerrick Thomas of Launch: Starting a New Church from Scratch.
KERRICK THOMAS is a teaching pastor at The Journey Church and regularly co-leads training events with Nelson Searcy. Prior to his move to New York to plant The Journey, he received a Masters of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Regal; 5.3.2008 edition (June 2, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830745661
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830745661
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.7 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #702,958 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
These guys are experts at their model, and perhaps the greatest accomplishment of this book is that they make their model accessible and reproducible. Their approach to small groups is indeed novel in places and quite refreshing. For example, their discussion on covenants is valuable. I love that they give people relationships and responsibilities to help connect them to the church. Their discussion on enlistment techniques is great; perhaps worth the price of the book on its own.

Many of the other reviews have highlighted all that is great about the book, and I find much agreement there. However, there are a few areas of concern that should be pointed out. First, this is not an entirely new approach to small groups. For those of you from baptist backgrounds you may recognize the 12 week topic driven trimesters as something similar to discipleship training classes. This is not a bad thing. I find no fault with this set up. My perception is that the "entirely new" part of all this is in the details, not the model. We're a traditional midwestern church and have been using this model for fifteen years. Should have written a book.

Second, the book does not offer transitional advice for pastors of traditional churches. This is not necessarily a weakness, but the reader will need to find other volumes to aid in the transition process.

Third, Searcy and Thomas's model is not small groups in the...dare I say it..."tradtional" sense. Here is what I mean. Journey's small groups are curriculum driven, and (to use a distinction from Joseph Myers) these groups promote social relationships. Would you like to guess what we call a group that is heavy on curriculum and keeps relationships light? The answer is Sunday School.
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Searcy and Thomas have written an outstanding book on starting or developing a small groups program within the local church. The material presented demonstrates a depth of insight that only comes from experience - it's easy to see how Journey Church in New York City went from a handful of people to over 1100 in worship attendance and over 1200 people in almost 100 small groups in just a few years. The book is easy to read, very well organized, very practical, yet gives the important `why' behind each of the main ideas presented. (I would characterize his other book Fusion: Turning First-Time Guests into Fully-Engaged Members of Your Church in the same way.) The material is covered in several sections within two parts: the Activate Mindset, and the Activate System. The first half talks about several novel principles and shares some solid insight in sidebars and examples. The second half is really nuts-and-bolts on how to apply this approach not just as a set of disconnected ideas, but as a complete system that can be put in place. It doesn't tell the reader what needs to be covered or try to set an agenda for the groups, so there is still a lot of freedom for application and customization of the system to best match the needs of the church.

Part One: The Activate Mindset
* Rethinking Small Group Methodology
- Think Inside Out... Not Outside In
- Think Larger... Not Smaller
- Think Friendship... Not Intimacy
* Rethinking Small Group Structure
- Think Short-Term... Not Long-Term
- Think Promotion Months... Not Ongoing Sign-ups
- Think Church of small groups...
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This is a powerful refreshing book on small groups. I have read it twice already and have it all highlighted with many new insights into my personal small groups theology. We have built our church on small groups here in NYC, and have read about every small group book there is.Many are pretty much the same.However, What makes this one different is that (1).It is in fact a radical paradigm shift!Many books I read are 80% things I agree on already. What makes this book better is that I actually learned a lot more than what I already agreed on. The idea of losing control is in istelf worth the book. (2).Nelson and kerrick are powerful practicioners in that they can articulate a plan of action in real steps and not only give you a "YOU NEED TO DO THIS" thesis. They actually give you a plan and a "Why", and PROOF that its worked. BOTTOM LINE: This is Simply one of the best books ever on small groups. Even if you dont agree on everything in this book, I promise you you will gain a lot from it. The price of the book is peanuts compared to the wealth of insight you will recieve. Thanks again guys, pastor Eddie Ramirez, Victory Outreach- Alcance Victoria Brooklyn, NY.
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I was asked to take over small groups when our worship/small groups pastor went to another church. After coming across this book I felt like it challenged traditional thinking in a positive way. I presented to our Sr Pastor then the Elders (with power point and handouts to be more effective) and they decided to give it a try. We went from 90 people in small groups to over 220 sign-ups. And since I'm the full time Youth Pastor, we did the same with our youth ministry. We had over 80 student sign-ups and we have never had more than 30 involved in small group within our youth ministry.

People were challenged and grew spiritually. We were able to see MANY people get involved that had never been involved before. And many became regular attenders instead of just monthly attendance. It is a great assimilation tool. And possibly the best thing we received out of it was a healthy leadership structure for staff and volunteers. The leadership structure from the book changed the way I run my ministry because it is so very effective.

One other thing that is a great benefit, is existing relationships form small groups do not have to be broken. It gives people the opportunity to sign up together in order to stay together. Yet at the same time people can try something else. Also, there is the serving together concept. Each of the 3 semesters the group does an evangelistic project, a fun night, and serves 2 times a semester on Sundays for church as greeters, ushers, and clean-up crew. Another way to connect people to the working of the church!

Definitely worth your time!
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