40 Small Changes for a Big Year

Small Changes for a Big Year

Editor’s note: This week we’re thinking about small changes we can make for a big year in ministry.

As we start a new calendar year, it’s a good time to look at changes we can make in our faith formation settings that will make the most of the time we have left with our groups. Here’s a list of small suggestions, most easy to implement. And these are ideas only, not a checklist. Please don’t try to implement everything on this list at once, as that could be overwhelming, which is not the point!

  1. Remember that we are facilitating encounters with Christ.
  2. Greet children by name as they enter the room.
  3. Sign up for the 9 Strategies for How to Get and Keep Attention e-mail series by John E. Barone and Charleen Katra.
  4. Change elements on your prayer table to clearly indicate the liturgical season.
  5. Bring in a poster, small statue, or other such item relevant to the saint of the day (or week).
  6. End the session with enough time left for cleaning up followed by closing prayer.
  7. Try a new activity type with your group—a skit, different art form, use of multimedia, etc.
  8. Teach older learners how to look up Scripture verses.
  9. Hand out encouragement notes to your participants, either a few each session or all at once.
  10. Celebrate the feast days of the saints matching the names of young people in your class.
  11. Play an ice-breaker game (that ties in with the day’s topic) with your group as a community-builder.
  12. Don’t be afraid to put the book lesson aside if current events or the mood of the class dictates a change.
  13. Issue the silence challenge for young people.
  14. Read a good spiritual book to tend to your own spirituality.
  15. Play a song from the Sunday liturgy that ties to themes under discussion.
  16. Play a pre-screened pop song relevant to the day’s topic.
  17. Review all the elements of your textbook program to be sure you aren’t forgetting to use a helpful tool, such as art prints, Scripture or prayer CDs, posters, or blackline masters.
  18. Make a list of supplies you’ll need each week to be able to collect them quickly before you get to the meeting space.
  19. Tour the church if you haven’t already with your group.
  20. Invite your pastor, associate pastor, or deacon to address the group during the tour of the church or another suitable time.
  21. Review your parish’s Mass times with young people.
  22. Make use of ritual and sacred gestures in your sessions.
  23. Hand out copies of the parish bulletin to young people so they can see what happens during a week in the life of the parish.
  24. Sign up for Joe Paprocki’s 20 Tips for Catechists e-mail series.
  25. Team up with another class for a shared activity. Older children can teach younger children something or assist with a project, or two groups of the same or similar ages can challenge each other to a faith trivia contest or participate in a shared service experience.
  26. Do a simple service project with your group.
  27. Lead a guided reflection with your group.
  28. Work with parish staff to provide opportunity for Eucharistic Adoration.
  29. Subscribe to the Catholic Faith Formation e-newsletter.
  30. Arrive a few minutes early to class to prepare. Even if you can’t enter the learning space any earlier, you can take these moments to compose yourself with a prayer to the Holy Spirit.
  31. Get an extra copy of the Catholic calendar from your parish to display in the classroom, and refer to the feast days when you meet.
  32. Plan to attend a retreat, either in person or online.
  33. Read a good book to help you develop your catechetical skills.
  34. Survey your group as to what types of activities they have found most helpful, and use the results to inform your future session planning.
  35. Shake up your session plans if you have been doing the same thing for years; maybe a new approach will be beneficial for young people.
  36. Join the Catholic Faith Formation Facebook group.
  37. Pray with your group for all those involved in faith formation in the parish.
  38. Prepare an extra activity each session in case your plans run short and leave you with more time than expected.
  39. Share your personal story of faith with the young people.
  40. Pray for and with the young people in your group.

Which of these small changes will you implement to make it a big year?

About Denise Gorss 115 Articles
Denise Gorss is a catechist with more than 20 years experience, mostly in junior high. She appreciates the gifts of Ignatian spirituality and likes sharing various types of prayer with the young people in her groups. She enjoys seeing the world on pilgrimages and lives in the Chicago area, where she works as Web Editor at Loyola Press.

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