By Larry Osborne

People who have followed my writings know that I was one of the first proponents of churches having a permission-giving attitude and ministry. My book, Sacred Cows Make Gourmet Burgers, clearly defined how churches developed a permission-giving compared to “We’ve always done it this way” attitude.  As a result of this attitude, healthy churches usually developed multiple ministries, and grew because of the variety of ministries offered.

Now, however, I’m finding many strong churches that are doing just the opposite. Instead of lots of programs or ministries, they do only two things- worship and small groups that meet in homes. These churches usually do so for two reasons: one, they believe that small groups is the best way to disciple and retain people; and two,  because of the time crunch most Americans find themselves in.

I just finished reading Sticky Church by Larry Osborne, pastor of North Coast Church in Vista, CA. The premise of the book is that it is more important to close the back door than to keeping trying to open the front door wider. Instead of focusing on bringing in more people it is better to focus on giving great care to the present participants. And the way they have closed the back door at North Coast is by doing sermon-based small groups, and not much else. Worship and small groups seems to be a growing tide in the U.S.

Upon reflection, I feel the two different approaches have to do with type of church I might be consulting with. In most mainline churches that have been around more than 10 years I strongly recommend the permission-giving attitude because most of them are mostly stuck in the past.  However, for a new church plant or a very progressive church I recommend the church only do two things- worship and small groups.

I strongly recommend this book to those who are working with time crunched Americans.  It has a lot of wisdom to share on how to disciple them. The book will surprise many long time church goers.

Bill Easum