Tips for Hosting a Book Club at Your Parish

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Book clubs continue to be a popular vehicle for social interaction while encouraging and motivating people to read, to encounter ideas they might not otherwise consider, and to talk about their own ideas and thoughts about what they’re reading. Parishes and faith communities can use book clubs to build a sense of community, invite new people to explore the Catholic faith, and experience faith formation. Book clubs can be an excellent vehicle for pre-evangelization and evangelization and a great way to help form disciples of Christ. Here are some tips for hosting a successful book club:

  • On the average, group size should not exceed 10. This allows for two or three absentees while still maintaining a robust conversation.
  • Set a regular meeting day and time, usually once per month, and send out e-mails with reminders of date, time, location, and questions for discussion.
  • Have the book clubs meet in people’s homes, and invite members to rotate as hosts.
  • Offer refreshments but don’t overdo it, so that no one feels intimidated about hosting. Soft drinks, wine, and coffee along with some snacks and desserts should suffice.
  • The host and discussion leader should not be the same person. Just as the host should rotate each month, so should the discussion leader.
  • Involve participants in the selection of the book they will read and discuss. A parish staff can offer a list of suggested books from which participants can select. Likewise, participants can suggest books to the parish leadership.
  • Invite participants to highlight sections of the book that were of great interest, provoked them, enlightened them, or challenged them.
  • Consider keeping the discussion going between meetings via a blog or another online forum.

What other suggestions do you have for hosting successful book clubs in the parish faith community?

Of course, as you consider book options, be sure to look at the many excellent books available from Loyola Press!

About Joe Paprocki 2748 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at

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