Going Beyond Sunday
In our churches and faith settings there is sometimes a culture of “Sunday only” Christians. We go to church on Sunday and then we leave, yet we’re seeking to be fed spiritually at other times during the week. Life Groups are a way to build a culture of engagement among the church community. Just as the early Christians gathered in one another’s home in friendship and fellowship, to break bread, pray together, and make sense of their faith, we are being called to the same kind of intimate community.
The hope for Life Groups is to build fellowship, friendships, and vulnerability within a faith community by offering a safe and sacred space to share openly with one another about the questions of faith and life.
An Ignatian Pattern
Life Groups are driven by the Jesuit and Ignatian principle of being contemplatives in action, that is, to let our prayer inform our lives, and our lives inform our prayer. Life Groups are an opportunity to engage this by letting our lives meet prayer and reflection in the context of a faith community, like the early Christian communities. We also desire to be women and men for others, serving our fellow community members by listening to them, supporting them, and loving them in their journeys of faith. Intergated into Life Groups are opportunities to pray the Ignatian Examen.
Life Group Basics
- A 10-week commitment – People are more likely to invest themselves in a group with a defined duration time commitment.
- Weekly or bi-weekly meetings – Since groups commit to just ten weeks, a fairly frequent meeting interval is best.
- Meeting in homes – This provides for intimacy, cultivates a spirit of hospitality and welcome, and encourages attendance as group members are treated as expected welcomed guests.
- Small group size – A small group of about 8 or 9 people fosters deeper sharing, friendship, vulnerability, and intimacy.
The Four Parts to a Life Group Gathering
The scripture says the early Christians “broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God…” Life Groups have food as a part of gatherings to point out that those gathered together are family. We are brothers and sisters in Christ. And food is a reminder of God’s gifts.
The Spark is a short time spent reflecting on something that will be a catalyst to the sharing and conversation portion of the gathering. Groups can choose what they want their spark to be: the upcoming Sunday scripture readings, an Examen on the week, themed reflection, a section of scripture (Bible study), etc.
This is an opportunity for group members to share openly about how the Spark has touched them in the context of their own lives. Discussion can be about the Spark itself or something personal that has come to heart for a person. Essentially, it’s faith sharing.
This can be an opportunity for those to share prayer intentions, offer an Ignatian Examen, pray a decade of the rosary, sit in silence, or offer a written or spontaneous prayer.
What You Receive
A ready-to-print 5.5″ x 8.5″ handbook for Life Group facilitators (group leaders). This PDF can be printed into saddle stitch booklets using a variety of online print services and in-person print shops. Comes in single page format and booklet format. A quality printed handbook will be helpful to group leaders as a reference and can be given out at a Life Group facilitator training. The handbook includes basic information about Life Groups, the four part structure in detail, helpful pointers in facilitating a small group, prayers, Examens, and a troubleshooting guide.
A Support & Training Guide for you as the Life Group Coordinator. This PDF can be printed as-is and put in a binder for your reference and use. The guide includes everything you need to know to start a Life Groups program at your church. Included:
- Planning Guide – offering you guidance on meeting the needs of your community, complete with a rollout plan, recruitment of facilitators, marketing ideas, and suggested write-ups for church bulletins.
- Facilitator Training Guide – a complete two-hour training script for Life Group facilitator training, complete with recommended timing.
- Training Handouts – handouts and a facilitator checklist to be used in the facilitator training which can be printed right from the PDF file or photocopied.
An Info Session Presentation for recruiting interested facilitators. The presentation covers the basics of Life Groups, the facilitator’s role, and information about training. Comes in PowerPoint and Keynote (Mac) formats, which you can edit as needed.
A Full Resolution Life Groups Logo for use in marketing and promotion as well as a PDF sign-up sheet for interested facilitators.