Book Review - Larry Osborne's Sticky Church

Larry Osborne's Sticky Church is a book about designing and implementing small groups in your church that work.  His church has been doing the same model of small groups for decades with around 80% participation.

It is a great book on small groups, but beyond that, it would not be a recommended read.

Let me hit on some the highlights.  We should never mimic another church's ministries because they are successful.  He spends a chapter explaining the hindrance to the small group movement that the American churches have faced because many churches have modeled their small groups David Yonggi Cho's church in South Korea. There are specific cultural reasons why Cho's model works in South Korea yet fails to gain traction here in America.  "The best way to make sure a model is transferable to your situation is to ask yourself whether you would go to that church if you lived in that town."

Another warning is that we expect too much out of the people in our church.  "As a rule of thumb, most people will participate in only two time slots a week. No matter what that third meeting is for or when it takes place, it's hard to get anyone to show up." Despite being well-intentioned, when we create more ministry options, we wind up creating competition for our own ministries.  We need to focus on what we want people to get involved in and not give so many options. "We...knew that if given the choice, many people would pick the ministry they enjoyed the most, not the ministry they needed the most." It got me thinking because our small, rural church seems to offer more programs than this church of thousands.

Small groups are not designed to grow and divide.  In Cho's model, small groups are the evangelistic tool of the church; however, Osborne argues that does not work in America and works in South Korea due to specific cultural elements. Growing and dividing will work for a short time, but it will cause the groups to fizzle out in a few years and need to be reengineered.  And the congregation will never buy into them again.  This is due to people getting relationships burnout or already having a fill of too many relationships. The purpose of Osbourne's small groups is to create "significant and sticky relationships." He talks about groups that have been together for decades. They are a testament to Christian life together. He argues that we will run into problems when we try to have small groups fill every need rather than focus on the need of building significant and lasting relationships.  Instead of filling every need, they will fill no needs.