This is the last post in our series on how to host small faith groups in your parish. I have been drawing on the successful experience of St. Barnabas Parish in Chicago, which gathered over 200 parishioners to participate in small faith groups last Lent. Today we look at what must be done throughout the season of Lent to sustain the small groups and suggest some post-Lent follow-up ideas.
Week Before the First Sunday of Lent
- Small groups begin to meet for the first of six weekly gatherings.
- Invite participants to submit reflections on the experience of their small groups to be shared in the bulletin.
- Provide bulletin inserts related to the Sunday Scripture.
- Invite the parish to pray for the small groups through intercessions at Mass or other ways.
- Invite others to join groups.
Week Before Palm Sunday
- Small groups meet for the last time.
Several Weeks After Easter
- Host a closing celebration with Mass and a pot luck dinner.
- Invite participants to evaluate the experience.
- Invite small groups to continue meeting if they so desire, and provide them with resources for faith sharing.
Small Faith Group Resources
- The Church of Mercy by Pope Francis—discussion guide available
- A Friendship Like No Other: Experiencing God’s Amazing Embrace by William A. Barry, SJ (with free downloadable discussion guide)
- My Life with the Saints by James Martin, SJ (with free downloadable discussion guide)
- Raising Faith-Filled Kids (with discussion guide)
- An Ignatian Prayer Adventure—This online adapted version of the Spiritual Exercises has an eight-week schedule that can be used any time of the year.
- Under the Influence of Jesus: The Transforming Experience of Encountering Christ by Joe Paprocki (with free downloadable discussion guide)
- Practice Makes Catholic: Moving from a Learned Faith to a Lived Faith by Joe Paprocki (with free downloadable leader guide)
- A Well-Built Faith by Joe Paprocki (with free downloadable leader guide)
- 7 Keys to Spiritual Wellness by Joe Paprocki (with free downloadable discussion guide)
- Meeting Christ in Prayer—This unique eight-week, guided-prayer experience for small groups is modeled after the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.
- Meaningful Conversations About Prayer—DVDs and leader guide
- Six Weeks with the Bible—Each guide is divided into six concise, 90-minute segments that introduce one book or theme of the Bible.
On Wednesday, we’ll share the free materials for Reflecting on the Lenten Scriptures that you can use in your small groups during Year B. I’ll also have available the slideshow presentation for training small group facilitators.
Read the first five articles in the series:
How to Host Parish Small Faith Groups, Part 1 (Introduction)
How to Host Parish Small Faith Groups, Part 2 (4–6 Months Out)
How to Host Parish Small Faith Groups, Part 3 (2–3 Months Out)
How to Host Parish Small Faith Groups, Part 4 (1–2 Months Out)
How to Host Parish Small Faith Groups, Part 5 (Sample Promotional Materials)