Sticky Church (Leadership Network Innovation Series)
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The greatest challenge facing most churches today isn’t getting people through the front door—it’s keeping them from leaving through the back door. In his new book, Larry Osborne reveals what it takes to cultivate a “sticky” church and reveals the strategy of sermon-based small groups to retain members while leading your church into even deeper levels of discipleship.
Nobody Does It Better Dr. Larry Osborne, among many other gifts, is an established expert on how to help churches get 'sticky' --- that is, keeping and including the adults and families that they initially attract through programs, events and ministries.
Simply put: Nobody does it better!
Osborne is the senior pastor of North Coast Church in Vista, California (7,000 plus attend each weekend) and has led the church for three decades. Always good at drawing new people in, North Coast was not originally strong on incorporating and including.
Fast forward to right now --- North Coast does "sticky" better than any other church in North America. One key factor is a dynamic small group program that actually functions as the heart of the ministry.
In this excellent new book Osborne shows you how, step-by-step, a congregation can intentionally become more sticky and thus more effective at long-term discipleship, equipping for ministry, and thus mission.
A must-read for congregations, church boards, church leaders, and anyone interested in long-term assimilation/incorporation/inclusion of those who attend a local community of faith.
Dr. David Frisbie
The Center for Marriage & Family Studies
Del Mar, California
Author ofThe Soul-Mate Marriage: The Spiritual Journey of Becoming One...more info
Making Small Groups Practical The basic premise of this book is that sermon-based, short-term sessions for small groups are THE most effective way to retain people in your church. There is a lot of truth to this. Activate by Nelson Searcy addresses many of the same things that Larry Osborne writes about. This book spends a lot more time discussing the philosophy and vision of groups as opposed the practical implementation than Searcy's book does. Chapter 18, "Why Cho's Model Didn't Work in Your Church" may be worth the price of the book on its own. It's a short summary of the history of small groups ministry philosophy that I had not read about before.
If you're in full-time ministry in a local church you should pick up this book. It will give you a good framework in which to develop your groups ministry....more info
Sticky Church This is a well written excellent book. Unfortunately there are books representing all sides of the small groups picture- however we have decided to use this model to try out small groups in our small church. After reading this and The Simple Church I feel the best path is not offer too many options but the ones you do offer are the best. I feel it boils down to win the world to the love of Christ, help them love and share that love with each other and then go out and serve others in the world with that love. I would recommend this book as a great starting place. ...more info
Packed with Helpful Insights Interested in developing sermon-based small groups? Sticky Church (Leadership Network Innovation Series, The) by Larry Osborne is packed with helpful insights.
In addition to providing the nuts and bolts of how it works, Sticky Church carefully explains the underlying assumptions and principles North Coast has used to develop their sermon-based small group strategy. Finally, you'll also find an appendix that is full of the forms, job descriptions and covenants you'll need to begin to implement the concept.
Is the strategy for everyone? No. Is it designed to do it all? No, but no approach is. Clearly designed to connect the people you already have, Osborne acknowledges that his vision is "that every Christian in our church needs to be velcroed to significant relationships." While Sticky Church is not outreach oriented, it is a great blueprint for implementing a small group strategy that will help members and attendees connect.
Very good. This book challenges some of the long held ideas of small groups with some practical commmon sense alternatives. A must read for pastors....more info
Great writer, poor small group model Last night, I finished reading Sticky Church by Larry Osborne. I gave it two stars from a small group guy's perspective, not a "close the back door of your church" perspective. Here are my likes and gripes...
Like: Osborne's general writing style. The book was easy to read and he was honest about how he feels about all sorts of things related to small groups and the small group movement.
Like: Osborne's illustration about people being like Lego bricks is fairly accurate. People only have time and emotional space for X number of close friends, or only so many other legos can be snapped to yours before some fall off. This is a good analogy for those who seek to be more relationally evangelistic (although he doesn't make this point in the book, that's my application of his analogy).
Like: He's a big fan sermon based small groups, which is what is done in South Korea and at Victory Christian Center in Tulsa, OK, just to name a few. This is a big distinction of his book and church... so few American churches have "pulpit groups," favoring DVD curriculum or giving each leader or group the freedom to choose their own subject matter for the Bible discussion portion of the meeting.
Like: Osborne does not see small groups as a supportive program for his church or his pulpit ministry. He has a paradigm that allows him to view weekend services as being a gathering of small groups for instruction and worship.
Gripe: Osborne speaks of small groups as one of the main things that helps his members "stick" and remain in his church. It is his church's primary method of closing the back door. As I have commented before in other blog posts and book reviews, this is indeed a value of small groups, but should be a byproduct for groups, not the main reason a church launches them... small groups of people meeting in Christ's name are the church. I truly believe the bride of Christ is being prostituted for man's glory and structures ... and her Husband ain't content with the way biblical community is being used in the Western church world.
Gripe: Osborne states that his church's small groups are formed to build relationships and apply the sermon, not encourage relational evangelism. He wrote that people just won't sign up for groups if this is a stated purpose. He commented that relational evangelism does happen, but it's not a major thrust of their groups. He maintains a "involve the consumers more" type of attitude about small groups, vs. helping people discover their ministry giftings and harness the power of biblical community to storm the gates of hell and set captives free.
Gripe: Osborne firmly writes that the Cho model will not work in America, citing that Americans are not good at obeying authority like South Koreans. He also extended this comment to other places in the world as well where highly motivated cell members reach friends for Christ and desire to one day multiply their group and lead one of their own.
Combo Like/Gripe: Osborne states that multiplying groups doesn't work in America and people hate it so they don't ever ask groups to do it at his church. They invite new people who join the congregation or visit the church services to join a new 10-week group starting up and hope it will become a sticky place for the folks, who make the group their permanent home.
Instead of what he calls "splitting or dividing" groups, he comments how the church staff approaches apprentices and asks them if they're ready to start a new group of their own. I like this because it's actually what all the cell-based churches around the world do, even though Osborne doesn't seem to understand this about these churches.
My gripe is the fact that the groups in North Coast Chruch seem to be populated through the big church services, not primarily from the hard work of the members through relationship building. He writes this is the best way to start groups and be "sticky" because unbelievers are most comfortable with a big, impersonal event compared to a scary small group experience. While this is a true sociological statement (especially in Southern California where his church is located), it completely ignores the fact that people are looking for faith through genuine relationships, not religion or spirituality.
If the members of a holistic small group are spending time with unbelieving friends outside of small group gatherings to build a genuine, two-way relationship, they will develop enough of a friendship to draw the unbeliever into the biblical community. In a relatively short period of relationship-building time, unbelievers will gladly visit a gathering in a home where they will see Christ's presence, power, and purposes manifested in such capacities that the person is brought to faith in Christ and repentance.
Petty Gripe: Osborne's frequent use of the word "pretty," used as an adverb instead of an adjective drove me nuts. Whomever edited his book at Zondervan needs to be smacked around for allowing it to remain in the final manuscript. (I remain puzzled at the ever-decreasing quality of writing I find in books published by large Christian publishers.)
Recommendation: If you desire to see your small groups develop a passion for Christ in their midst that drives them to love Him more, each other sacrificially, AND the lost through friendship and servanthood, this book isn't going to help you in that pursuit. Osborne shares his opinions about what has not worked in his church concerning holistic small groups (cell groups) because his church, like so many others, went about it all wrong... making congregational assimilation the primary goal and treating it like a program launch, not a completely different way of viewing and being the church....more info
A GOOD BOOK ON SMALL GROUPS This is a book that begins good with principles of retaining people. However, early into the book, the author narrows the rest of it to small group ministry...sunday sermon based groups to be exact. As a pastor who already uses a similar method, I still got a lot out of it. However, I belive that anyone considering this book should know that its enfasis is small groups...especially his method. So if you want a small group book on sunday sermon based methodolgy, this is for you; but if you are expecting a book that os broader on the subject of people retention, keep looking. Bottom line, a good book...IF you are interested in small groups....more info
Close the door! I knew I wanted to read Larry Osborne's new book Sticky Church as soon as I read the title. I would guess that that every pastor and every church has wrestled with the question about how to get people who visit their church to not only stay but how to get them connected. As Osborne points out we've tried just about everything but we still see too many of our people leaving through the back door.
The solution for Osborne and the folks at North Coast Church was to help people "stick" by getting them to be a part of their small group ministry. But the small groups at NCC were not your typical Bible study group or multiplying cell group. Osborne details the process that led him and his ministry team to focus on Sermon based small groups. As a result, those involved in small groups at NCC were given an opportunity to make application from what they heard the previous Sunday in the context of encouraging, accountable relationships.
I found Osborne's book to be extremely helpful in developing my own vision and strategy for ministry but probably not in the way Osborne would have imagined when writing this book. I pastor a rural church where we don't have small groups--we are a small group. I found many of Osborne's comments and principles to be very relevant to our situation and the ministry we are trusting God to develop. Osborne covers everything from preaching, to church health, to relationships, and leadership training. I imagine the principles I gleaned will be most beneficial to the way I give leadership to the local church.
My copy of Sticky Church is now marked up and well worn. My goal now is to go back through the book so I can process again the principles Osborne has shared. Let me share one principle that I found worth the price of the book (although thanks to the good folks at Zondervan I was given this copy to review for free!)
Just recently my kids have discover the joy of Legos, a toy that was a favorite of mine growing up as well. On pages 79-81 Osborne explains why we see such difficulty among people to "jell" with others when forming new relationship. The answer: people are like Legos. Like the little plastic bricks, there are only so many connectors to go around. When those connectors get filled up we find it difficult to make any new connections. When I read this and Osborne's further application (you'll just have to buy the book) I felt that both a light bulb went on and a weight was lifted at the same time. It's not so much that the church is full of cliques; it's that many of us already have our connectors filled (p.80). Brilliant!
Even if yours is not a church of small groups, or small groups are not yet on your ministry horizon this book is well worth reading. It will stay on my shelf and deserves a second read. Here's hoping that the Lord uses this book to help our churches become even "stickier"....more info
Book Sticky Church (Leadership Network Innovation Series)
Great Book, Great Author, Great Sellers...more info
Worthwhile This book is definitely worth a read if you are involved in church leadership and are concerned about growing your church and sustaining your present members through a process of discipleship.
The book is really about small groups, and Osborne's advice on the subject is worthwhile and well said, but not particularly novel. He believes that ultimately people will come to your church because of word of mouth without a lot of advertising or big events. Then small groups will retain them. He puts all of his eggs in that basket, and says that explains the growth of his megachurch, which now has 7500 in multiple venues.
I'm not sure that Osborne is correct in his self-analysis, though. I suspect there are a lot of things contributing to the growth of his church, and I don't think he has adequate data proving that his small groups were the key factor.
Still, the book is definitely worth a read, and should be read alongside Fusion: Turning First-Time Guests into Fully-Engaged Members of Your Church, which recommends something completely different to the same end....more info
Breakthrough for a Frustrated Pastor As a pastor of a medium sized church, one of my greatest frustrations has been seeing people come and go like a parade. Here they come, and there they go. We've never had a problem getting people to attend...but helping them stay connected after 6-8 weeks was another matter. Larry Osborne's Sticky Church, and Sticky Church Conference has helped us improve the health of our small groups ministry by
* developing more sermon based small groups
* giving up on forcing current groups to multiply
* starting new groups for new people (this amazingly simple idea alone added 12 new groups to our list almost immediately)
His Sermon Based Small groups starter kit has also been extremely helpful in understanding more of the nuts and bolts behind training and recruiting leaders.
Years ago, many churches resisted a small groups ministry for fear of renegade factions forming. Larry's philosophy of keeping the groups all on the same page creates greater unity and focused direction for the church. An excellent resource to help tie small groups more closely to the church and keep the sheep from wandering away.
Larry's down to earth, clean writing style makes the book a quick, practical read. I've also enjoyed reading The Unity Factor, & The Contrarian's Guide to Knowing God.
One of the best books on small groups... I'm on staff at a church that's been doing small groups seriously for about five years. I've read many books on small groups and have learned some important things from most of them. As all honest authors admit, no particular model is completely transferable from one church context to another, and Osborne thankfully acknowledges this reality. Rather than prescribing the North Coast model as the panacea to solve all small group problems, he seems to approach "The Sticky Church" from the perspective of "here's what we've experienced, here's what's working for us, so use whatever is helpful." I like that.
The overall premise of the book is that many churches spend too much time widening the front door (getting new people to come) and not enough time closing the back door (discouraging current attenders from leaving). As other reviewers have noted, Osborne spends the latter part of the book explaining NCC's primary solution for creating a Sticky Church, their small groups. There are two things about groups at NCC that are somewhat unique from much of the standard small groups literature.
First, their groups are primarily sermon-based, which simply means that their "curriculum" is discussing the sermon from weekend worship. This has many benefits, which include encouraging better sermon listening, note-taking, and accessing the message online or with a CD if a person missed the message. And probably the biggest value of sermon-based groups is the simplification that it creates in people's lives, who are bombarded with messages and ideas and don't need yet another thing to be pondering and studying, even if it is a good small group study. I know that I've been part of many groups when reading a random book or doing a random study of a book of the Bible simply added another layer of complexity to my life without having any transforming value. How intuitive and obvious (but somehow rare) to not only allow but even encourage groups to simply spend some time reflecting on the sermon and the corresponding Scripture passage! If we think that sermons have the potential to impact people's lives, I can imagine no better way to foster that growth than by scheduling a time for everyone to digest and discuss further what they heard on the weekend. It is so simple, yet so profound.
The second main idea of Osborne's book, which is contrary to almost every other group model that I've studied, is the celebration of long-term relationships in group. Of course, most group gurus would suggest that long-term relationships are a good thing. But the multiplication model that they espouse runs contrary to this idea. Though the pundits all provide countless tips for group multiplication (and my wife and I have led our groups through multiplication several times), the reality is that we are trying to create a group culture in direct opposition to what we have promised people that they would find in groups, which are significant relationships. Therefore, Osborne has the guts to simply say that group multiplication is a dumb idea and destroys exactly what we're trying to create.
This approach to not only allowing but encouraging essentially "closed" groups requires some serious thought. Osborne explains how they manage this unusual model, through leader development and starting new groups. But more so than any of the specific information or tips, what I love most about this book is Osborne's complete honesty. I have experienced, personally and corporately, the frustration that results from how many churches are trying to do small groups. Osborne suggests two relatively simple things (sermon-based discussion and long-term groups) that help to diffuse a lot of that tension. We're not going to mirror what NCC is doing, but we will be making some shifts in our language and our approach to small group ministry, trying to develop our groups to be places where people can actually experience significant, Christ-centered relationships. If we get that right, then we will be much closer to becoming a "Sticky Church."...more info