With Lent being just about a month away, many parishes are looking at utilizing small faith groups, one of the most effective formats for adult faith formation and a reality that I have written about previously. Too often, we think that we have to find a “permanent” resource for small faith groups—something that they can use continually without change. This flies in the face of one of the best things about small faith groups, which is the flexibility of the format: there is no need to always use the same resource for small groups when you can change things up.
I recommend that small faith groups run in “spurts”—in other words, that they meet for a period of four to eight weeks and then take some time off before another “session” begins. In this way, people can comfortably move in and out of small groups without feeling as though they have to “sign their life away” to a group that will meet every week until the end of time. (Of course, some people like to have the same format and enjoy meeting weekly with no end date, so don’t rule that out as an option!)
The “spurt” approach, then, makes it very convenient to invite people back to something that is just a little different than their previous session. Some sessions can focus on the Sunday Scripture readings using resources such as the Sunday Connection or Sacred Space, while others can focus on experiences in study and/or prayer, such as Meeting Christ in Prayer, Meaningful Conversations About Prayer, An Ignatian Prayer Adventure, or Six Weeks with the Bible. Still others can be a book discussion using books that have discussion guides, such as:
- The Church of Mercy by Pope Francis
- A Friendship Like No Other: Experiencing God’s Amazing Embrace by William A. Barry, SJ
- My Life with the Saints by James Martin, SJ
- Raising Faith-Filled Kids by Tom McGrath
- Under the Influence of Jesus: The Transforming Experience of Encountering Christ by Joe Paprocki
- Practice Makes Catholic: Moving from a Learned Faith to a Lived Faith by Joe Paprocki
- A Well-Built Faith by Joe Paprocki
- 7 Keys to Spiritual Wellness by Joe Paprocki
- Blessed by Less by Susan Vogt
- Redemption Road by Brendan McManus, SJ
When it comes to small faith groups, keep it fresh! Change things up and keep people guessing and growing!