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The Church and the Crisis of Community: A Practical Theology of Small-Group Ministry Paperback – July 26, 2011
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— Princeton Theological Seminary
"Who knew Karl Barth had so much to offer small-group ministries? The Church and the Crisis of Community goes light-years beyond any small-group book I have read, inviting the reader into actual congregations as they seek to address Americans' longing for community through small groups. With abundant concrete examples, profound theological wisdom, and powerful theoretical insight, Theresa Latini establishes herself as a fresh, powerful new voice in practical theology — and a wise companion to those leading congregations in a culture craving communion. The church will be learning from Theresa Latini for years to come."
M. Craig Barnes
— Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
"Latini offers a refreshingly serious theology of small-group ministry. We have long needed this book."
J. Todd Billings
— Western Theological Seminary, Holland, Michigan
"Points readers to a rich, Christ-centered vision of koinonia and communion, all the while presenting an insightful account of how to integrate the social sciences into a robustly theological vision. This is a groundbreaking book in the field of practical theology!"
E. Stanley Ott
— author of Transform Your Church with Ministry Teams
"In our day of faceless relationships and pervasive social media Theresa Latini offers a wonderful understanding of the theological foundations of genuine koinonia and how to facilitate its growth in congregations through small groups. . . . This is a book I would like to put into the hands of every pastor."
“A welcome addition not only in addressing a core aspect of contemporary congregational life, but also in seeking to build a neo-Barthian practical theology.”
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Enter Small Groups. In The Church and the Crisis of Community: A Practical Theology of Small-Group Ministry, Theresa Latini argues that small groups have been the church’s response to the fragmentation and uncertainty we face. Small groups are both a response and a symptom of our current struggle for intimacy and security. Small groups are caught up in the same dynamics that they seek to address. Using her training as a practical theologian, Latini offers a critical reflection on the small group movement in order to ground this church practice in the action of God. She offers description and interpretation of the present moment, substantial theology, as well as practical steps for implementing more faithful small groups in a congregation. In doing so, she offers a gift to the church and all who care for the fractured communities we live in.
By itself, her methodology is worth the price of admission. Her four-fold practical theological task (descriptive-empirical, interpretive, normative, pragmatic) empowers her to integrate insights from the social sciences with an expansive theological vision. Latini neither sacrifices her theology on the altar of science, nor dismisses the insights given to her by these secular disciplines. Theologically, she presents a thoroughly Trinitarian and Christ-centered vision for the church that absolutely sings. In reading it, one is reminded of the joy and possibility for true koinonia through the grace of God. God’s action makes it possible, and we are invited to participate.
If you are unfamiliar with sociology or psychology, there are a lot of terms to learn. Regardless, I highly recommend this book for any pastor or lay person seeking to more faithfully cultivate community through small groups.