Have you ever participated in a 12-week group with the intent to change in some way? Perhaps it was a Bible study, or a new program. Have you ever noticed how few people really change by the end of such a program? The intent is there, but the change never happens.
In his book titled Spark, Jason Jaggard proposes that the reason the standard way we learn things leaves us unchanged is because we are not challenged to step out of our comfort zone and take risks. He says a spark is a choice, a small risk. Jaggard created what he calls “spark groups” that are risk-oriented rather than focused on information and teaching. Participants build a sense of community that creates accountability. Spark groups are made up of 10-15 people who meet once a week for five weeks. During their time together, each person chooses one risk that improves their life, or improves the world.It isn’t program based, or heavy on how-to content. Instead, it’s oriented around the group spurring and motivating one another.
Jaggard says, some people ask, “Why so light on content?” He answers, “you are the content.” The content isn’t in study resources but in the people who participate. It’s their dreams, fears, problems, hopes, risks, lives (p. 68). On one hand it seems oversimplified, but on the other, it makes sense. The risk is an action. It’s asking the participant to do something rather than think about doing something.
This book explains how to use the spark concept to motivate transformation. The book is a tool. Jaggard also has a website where individuals can register a Spark Group, and find resources and coaching.
Overall, the book is thought-inspiring. At times, it was a little repetitive, and I lost my momentum halfway through. However, the concept of a risk sparking change makes sense. I have an advance reader copy of the book, so it’s difficult to tell if it looks like the final product, but the layout is different from standard. Instead of indented paragraphs, it’s formatted in business style, left justified with spaces between paragraphs. It’s a little different, but maybe trendy?
Although this is a book from Waterbrook Press, a Christian publisher, readers shouldn’t expect this to be a deeply spiritual book. It contains illustrations from Scripture, and references to Bible passages, but it also contains expressions such as “hot dang” and I know some readers would be put off by something a little to “hip” for the conservative Christian crowd.
This book will give group leaders something to consider when leading a Bible study, starting an accountability group, or motivating a team. Those who add in the action step of taking a risk might be among the few who actually see change happen.
I received an advance reader copy of this book for review purposes from Waterbrook Press and the Blogging for Books program.