When I became a Christian, I joined an InterVarsity Bible-study group and then a church “family” group. This set a pattern so repeated in my Christian life that now my identity as a Christian is linked to being a member of a small group. I suspect many readers share my experience.

And yet, according to Princeton sociologist Robert Wuthnow, what I experienced as normal turns out to be not only new but revolutionary. In an excerpt from his new book (see “How Small Groups Are Transforming Our Lives,” p. 20), Wuthnow provides insights on how the small-group movement is changing our churches. We think this is the freshest work done on small groups in several years. While Wuthnow covers broad cultural trends, we were curious how small groups were affecting the evangelical world. Journalist Warren Bird, a 20-year veteran of small groups, talked to two-dozen church leaders and discovered a cautious enthusiasm for the movement (see “The Great Small-Group Takeover,” p. 25).

Finally, we faced our design challenge: how to present people sitting together talking in a visually stimulating way. With the help of Fuller Seminary’s William Pannell, we discovered a church that had an interracial focus to its small-group program: Hope New Life Church (RCA) in Artesia, California. During the pre-Christmas rush, our flu-ridden photographer, Bill Youngblood, gathered a handful of the group’s 18 members for a shoot in the church’s basement. We are proud to showcase their exciting ministry. We felt the topic could also use a light touch, and so we called in Warren Bird’s high-school classmate, Robert Suggs. We hope his cartoons won’t be your favorite part of our package—but they might be.

MICHAEL G. MAUDLIN, Managing Editor

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