I led my first small group almost 19 years ago, and I've been leading small groups and small group leaders almost non-stop ever since. In that time, I've read almost every book that's been published on 'em, either for school, work, or pleasure.
I occasionally get asked what my one-book recommendation would be, and I've never really had an answer I was thrilled with. That changed this week, when I read Activate: An Entirely New Approach to Small Groups at a friend's house.
It's a good book, with one major caveat: the title is a complete lie. There's literally not a single new thought in the entire book. Not one. Calling anything in the book "entirely new" is pure marketing, and I blame the publisher more than the authors (who certainly must know how much they've borrowed).
But it doesn't matter. The book is a fantastic synthesis of the best small groups thinking of the past ten years. Without ever naming names, they seamlessly blend the best from Donahue, Frazee, Osborne, Stanley, and Eastman.
It's not really a book I'd give a small group leader (I'm still buying used copies of Em Griffin for that) and it has a very narrow definition of small group (service and recovery groups aren't even mentioned). But if you're a point leader for small groups at your church and you want to build a groups program, this is the one book you should have on your shelf. I've always argued that a groups program should only be one part of your overall groups strategy, but for that one part, this is the best book I've read yet.
NOTE: I didn't get any compensation for this post. I don't even have a copy of the book, since I borrowed a copy from a friend.