Baker Book’s Planning Small Groups with Purpose book review – Rating 7.4

Baker Books' Planning Small Groups with Purpose by Steve GladenI requested a copy of “Planning Small Groups with Purpose” by Steve Gladn from Baker Books’ BakerBookBloggers program so I could check it out for a review.  I have been seriously looking into small groups and that type of community-minded ministries recently and was hoping that this book might shed some light on some of the questions I have had about how to get started with small groups.  I won’t give away the entire review here, but just know that if you are looking for something organic, or more like a movement, then you might want to look elsewhere.  However, if you are looking for a more structured business model approach to your small groups, then you may find this book very beneficial.


I would give this book an 7.4 out of my normal 10 point rating scale.  On a “5 star” scale that some websites use, I would give it a 4-star rating.

In full disclosure, I was not required or requested by Baker Books to write a positive review.  The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


There are some very good points that you can get out of this book. However, I was honestly looking for something that was a little less structured, or business model oriented, when it came to setting out to implement a small group ministry. Think of it more like an organic-type of environment vs. a structured model. That is what I was hoping for.

This book is written by Steve Gladen, who heads up the small group ministry at Saddleback Church (pastored by Rick Warren – Purpose Driven Life author). I’m sure with their size and resources, this model may work well for them, however for the majority of churches out there being a small church, I’m not so sure how well this business model approach would work.

Don’t get me wrong, you will be able to get some points out of this that are very worthwhile and helpful, but if you’re from a small church, parts may feel frustrating since you likely will not have the resources at your disposal to do some of these things like they were able to at Saddleback Church. It is very clear that the author feels that the way they did it at Saddleback Church will work for any church of any size or denomination, and he very often references back to the Purpose Driven books written by his pastor, Rick Warren.

If you are not a fan of Rick Warren, then you may not appreciate this book as much, however, if you are, then you likely will get a lot out of this book. I don’t personally subscribe to a highly business-modeled approach to church let alone small groups, but I can only speak for myself as I think something more organic is a better approach. Maybe the answer is somewhere in the middle though with some structure, yet still organic in nature.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for this review from Baker Books and all opinions are my own.



Type of Book:  Church Life / Small Groups
Author: Steve Gladen @SteveGladen
Publisher: Baker Books (Baker Publishing Group)  #BakerBooksBloggers @ReadBakerBooks
Publication Date: July 3, 2018
ISBN-13 of Book Reviewed: 978-0801077890
Price:  At the time of writing this review, the cheapest place to get this book is at  They have it for $12.49– suggested retail from the publisher is $18.99. Please note that these prices do not include any potential shipping charges.

If you would like to purchase this book, please support my blog and purchase by clicking any of the links to on this page like the one below.  Or if you would like to purchase it as an e-book for $9.99, you can click HERE to do that.

077894: Planning Small Groups with Purpose: A Field-Tested Guide to Design and Grow Your Ministry Planning Small Groups with Purpose: A Field-Tested Guide to Design and Grow Your Ministry
By Steve Gladen / Baker BooksYou long to see thriving small groups in your congregation, but how do you make this vision a reality? Created by the experts at Saddleback Church, this guide offers a 12- to 18-month plan. Move toward your goal by answering questions from “How will you develop leaders?” to “How will you involve every group in personal evangelism?” 176 pages, softcover from Baker.


Physical Characteristics:
•240 pages
•Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.6 x 9 inches
•Weight: 1 pound

The Goal of the Book:

The authors’ goal is to show how using the model that Saddleback Church has implemented for their small groups will work with any other church regardless of size or denomination.  I’m still not 100% convinced this is possible simply by the mathematics of smaller churches not having the resources that a larger church may have at their fingertips.


I’m honestly a little torn on this one as far as recommending it.  I think there are some very good points and takeaways in this book. At the same time, it feels more of a “man’s ideas” driven approach in my opinion.  I guess I could boil it down to this – if you like Rick Warren’s books or Saddleback Church model in general, then you will like this book.  If you don’t agree with those philosophies and/or approaches to ministry, then you likely will not appreciate this book..


Forward by Rick Warren
The Purpose of This Book
Part 1 – The Foundation
1 . Think Churchwide
2. Lead as a Team
3. Lead Effectively
4. Lead with a Vision and Mision
Part 2 – The House
5. The Kitchen: Connecting People through Small Groups
6. The Family Room: Growing People in Small Groups
7. The Study: Investing in God’s Kingdom through Small Groups
8. The Front Door: Reaching Others through Small Groups
9. The Dining Room: Sustaining Long-Term Success in Small Groups
Part 3 – Conclusion
10. Putting It All Together
Appendix: Saddleback Church’s Curriculum Pathway

About the Publisher:

From the Publisher’s website:  Baker Books has a vision for building up the body of Christ through books that are relevant, intelligent, and engaging. We publish titles for lay Christians on topics such as discipleship, apologetics, spirituality, relationships, marriage, parenting, and the intersection of Christianity and culture. We also publish books and ministry resources for pastors and church leaders, concentrating on topics such as preaching, worship, pastoral ministries, counseling, biblical reference, and leadership.

#BakerBooksBloggers @ReadBakerBooks


Please leave a comment or question and I will try to respond a.s.a.p.

– Michael

This entry was posted in Baker Books, Christian Living, Church Life, Church Ministry, Community, Leadership, Ministry, Other Book Reviews >>, Outreach, Paperback, Small Groups, Steve Gladen and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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