March 1, 2019
By Claire Henning, D.Min.
While small groups may seem like a new idea to some, they are actually an ancient practice of the early Church. If you think about it, Jesus led the first small group! Here are three reasons why they are such a powerful tool for making disciples and creating a vibrant spiritual growth environment in a parish.
As the old saying goes, “Faith is caught, not taught.” Small Groups are designed to be safe places where prayer and facilitated personal sharing make it easy to learn more about scripture, discuss questions that come up, share your faith journey to the extent that you wish to, and “catch” the faith of others as you listen and learn about their spiritual journeys.
Smaller communities act more like, well, communities. The bigger the group is, the less community-like it will feel. Authentic Christian community requires a level of intimacy, which gets lost in larger numbers. Jesus had his own close circle in Peter, James and John. His next circle of intimacy included all of the apostles. You may feel a sense of connection to, or pride in, your parish; but most of us are only able to experience a sense of profound Christian kinship or friendship with a few.
Lives are sharpened in small groups where faith and religion are discussed with trusted friends. The experience of Sunday liturgy becomes more meaningful when you find yourself worshiping alongside people with whom you share a spiritual connection. New parish leaders arise out of Small Groups too – people who have a deepened appreciation and sense of ownership for the life of the parish, and choose to step into ministry for the first time as: Eucharistic ministers, lectors, hospitality, outreach ministries, etc.
Would you like to learn more about small groups? On our Thriving Small Groups webinar dives deeper into why small groups work, what a healthy small group looks like, inviting and equipping leaders and how to get your parishioners involved. Click here for access to our webinar library: https://www.parishcatalyst.org/webinars/
If your parish is ready to pursue a small groups ministry, but you’re not sure where to start, our THRIVING SMALL GROUPS ON-SITE WORKSHOP provides vision, training and strategic planning on location at your parish. Click here for more information on our THRIVING SMALL GROUPS ON-SITE WORKSHOP.