Fellowship is so crucial for our spiritual journeys. The ability to be supported, challenged and share at a deeper level allows us to grow as Christians. At Harvesters, this small group sharing time is integral to our ministry and is always a huge privilege to the those who participate. One question we often get asked is “How can I take this experience into my parish and everyday life?” There are a number of men’s groups happening around the country, but there is always room for more. Also to be the blessing for our parishes and local communities, a group within your own parish is a great way to start.
Structure of a Small Group session
Setting up a small group in your parish can be a daunting prospect, but you do not need to be weighed down by having to find a good musician or an excellent teaching resource. Remember the power of these groups is in the sharing at a deeper level, of providing a safe space for the Spirit to work. Therefore a good structure for a session would be:
Having 20-30 minutes of sharing and social time – This is crucial for building relationships and being willing to genuinely share in the journey of others. Refreshments always help at this point.
Have a song (can be played through the internet) to lead into a lectio divina on the Gospel for the next Sunday. All this requires is a quiet reflective reading of the passage, usually three times with a period of silence in between each reading. Then have a sharing time of 30 minutes for what spoke to people from the reading. This conversation will flow in directions you may not have foreseen, but it is not a time of teaching or preaching, just sharing and listening. You will be amazed at what is revealed through this and you do not need to have all the answers to questions.
From this time lead into a time of prayer, intercessory or for each other, with a song to end with. This does not need to be laying on of hands and should be driven by what the group is comfortable with. Also asking each member of the group if there is a particular intention that they would like pray for before the next meeting.
This structure therefore does not require a leader, more just a few volunteers to bring in the refreshments and choose the songs. The beauty of this model is that it does not rely on one person to drive the group and it will organically change over time as the Lord brings different people into the group.
In terms of practicalities, you should always speak to your parish priest first as he know of other men in the parish who would benefit and might even allow you to advertise in the newsletter. There also needs to be an understanding of the confidential nature of the group sharing time to allow for the group to open up in a safe way. The regularity of the meetings depends upon what the group would like as it works once a week or once a month, but it should require a commitment of the brothers to come along each time. Therefore it may be best to start at once a month. Modern life is a great aid to this as using WhatsApp is a great way to stay in touch, share thoughts and resources and keep the fellowship alive in between meetings.
Overall all of this will only work if there is a firm foundation of prayer supporting the group. Therefore a commitment to praying for each other, daily preferably, is crucial for the Lord to support his invaluable work.
I hope this has given you an idea of how a small group could work and if you have any questions or would like any support, please contact us.