Monday, February 7, 2011

Book Clubs

Book Clubs are very popular these days. I am convinced that they foster social connections that folks long for, but they are also an excellent opportunity for equipping the saints. Over at Freedom Vineyard we have a club called Freedom Reads. We are on our fourth book together and we try to mix it up between lighter type books (The Shack, Blue Like Jazz) and entry level books on Christian faith (The Challenge of Jesus, Blue Parakeet). We let folks pick and choose what books to participate on, but we also have a faithful core who really enjoy studying together.

A great connection to the ThoughtWorks curriculum is that most of the modules have books attached to them. Currently our group is finishing up Scot McKnight's Blue Parakeet which happens to be Year Four of Biblical Foundations. Folks in our club have the option of completing the ThoughtWorks assignment for a certificate. Whether or not they do that, it is a practical way that we are implementing the ThoughtWorks curriculum into the life of our congregation.

Book clubs are really simple to put together. They almost run themselves. This is what we do.

1) Decide together on a book. Book clubs work best if folks have read the books. So the best way to get buy in is to choose together. Think of the ThoughtWorks curriculum as a springboard into a whole world of mentoring and discipling possibilities. Your regional ThoughtWorks representative would love to help you identify more books that might serve your community even better. You want something that will be enjoyable and challenging. A couple of our books have been disliked by some of the readers - but those are often then best studies (the Shack for instance had quite a polarized response but amazing conversations came out of our reading of it).

2) Break the book into reasonable portions. I usually set up a reading schedule for our group. You want enough material that you move through the book at a steady pace and have enough to work through when the group meets, but also you need to make it small enough that folks don't feel left behind or overwhelmed. We also decided that meeting every week was too much and try to meet about twice a month. Enjoy the process, often after a good discussion folks will want to revisit sections they've already read so they can see how other folks in the group saw something completely different in the text.

3) Be informal. We meet around a dining room table. We have coffee, tea and some munchables. A facilitator makes sure the conversation keeps moving, but often an open question like, "what did you like or dislike about this section?" is enough.

That's it.

Have you tried a book club? Here is a great opportunity to share your experiences, talk about what worked and what didn't work. If you have a different structure, let me know - that might make a great post for this blog.

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