St. Peter's Anglican Parish
Although I have not succeeded in establishing intentional small group ministries in the Parish, I have incorporated many aspects of the small group culture into gatherings and projects here. In particular I have begun to design most of my parish gatherings (involving fewer than 12 people) with seating around some devotional centerpiece so everyone can see everyone else. I have included more time for 'checking in', mediation, and prayer. I include food in these gatherings. I express the purpose for the gathering and invite everyone to share their gifts and experience in helping us to find satisfaction and encouragement in being together.
People have responded with increased honesty and more active participation.
These are small steps, but I feel they are important in helping people in the
Parish begin to become more open to each other and to God. The prevalent culture
has been resistant to personal disclosures and genuine shared learning so I
am grateful for the progress we are making.
Rev. Stephen Hallford
Cold Lake United Church
a lot about small group ministry this past year.
I believe that the small group format has helped our Hospitality & Welcoming
Team to have meaningful conversations about our local church - why would someone
attend, why would they come back, how are we different from a community group,
and what would interest people who have not had any church experience? At a
meeting about church vision this past spring, the work of our group was named
as one of the best things that has happened in our church recently!
We set three goals for our group and we partially accomplished the first! Yet
I view this as success, as throughout the year we continued to check in as a
group as to whether we were doing what we wanted to do.
As we were finishing the work during our last meeting we reminded ourselves
that we agreed to meet only for this church year. Our group, with these specific
members, having completed this particular task, will cease to exist after our
Often when we find a 'good worker' (or group) we work them so hard (and tell them what to do!) that they burn out. I believe that setting the duration of the group, the commitment expected from each member, and encouraging the group to discern it's own tasks, helps to generate new and creative energy for the work that the group has come together for.
When that time
is over it is important to honour the intent of the original commitment so as
to free that energy for new endeavours. What's more, it will allow me to share
small group ministry with a new group in the fall!
I have shared the small group format and the ROOTS principle with many people
this year; twelve people from our pastoral care organizational meeting last
fall who were the initial 'guinea pigs', eight on the Hospitality and Welcoming
Team, six on our Session Committee, and six from a new leadership team that
is being developed for another church in our pastoral charge. My daughter (age
16) used it in her youth group (6-8 kids), and for confirmation this year (3
kids). In fact, I now refuse to be part of any church group that does not meet
using this format. This fall I hope to help lead a group that will study Marcus
Borg's book, The Heart of Christianity, using it.
Sharing this format at my church has helped me to bring people together to
talk about what is important to them in an honest and respectful manner, to
encourage others to lead by helping them to learn these methods and to get us
to share our spirituality with each other (surprisingly easy with this format).
And while I was busy doing this work I became a leader myself, without really
meaning for it to happen!
Congregational News May 2007 Vol. 13 No. 4
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