Community: Small Group Guide

Set up:

  • Ensure that all technology is in place and ready to view the video. If your church does not have adequate WiFi, this may mean that the facilitator will need to download the video before arriving for the session. Facilitators will also need to ensure that everyone will be able to hear and see the video as it is being played. Facilitators may wish to turn on closed captioning.
  • Create a welcoming space to have a conversation.
  • Place a table in the center or near the conversation space to create an “altarscape” of items that will help set the tone and keep the conversation focused on each Sign of Life.

What you need:

  • Video viewing capabilities
  • Conversation guide for the facilitator
  • Practicing Signs of Life and worship handouts for each participant
  • A table for the altarscape
  • Specific items to create altar scape. For community, bring back parts of the elements from each week: candles, a bowl of water, bread and fruit, and the shelter of the crèche.

Gathering Prayer/Setting the Altarscape: (5 minutes) 

Gather participants into the conversation circle. Invite a few moments of stillness, and then pray this collect:

Almighty Triune God, we thank you for the gift of community, by which we share life’s journey and grow together. May we follow your example of mutual self-giving and love to bless each other with an ever-widening embrace, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who dances with you and the Holy Spirit, one God in Trinity of persons now and forever. Amen.

After the prayer, create a tableau of the elements from the past four weeks. You may wish to invite different participants to place the elements on the table. Take some time to reflect silently on the nature of community. 

Check-In (15 minutes):

Orient participants to the rhythm of this session. Let them know that you will do check-in, watch the video, have a conversation, and then close with worship.

Invite participants to answer the following question:

Last week we discussed shelter. How did you notice the presence of shelter this week?

Facilitators may wish to practice mutual invitation (see Small Group Facilitator Guide) or they may wish to simply go around in the circle. Participants who pass should be invited to share after the other participants have shared. 

Watch Video  (15 minutes):

Before you start the video, read this script:

“As you watch this video, pay attention to the various ways community is explored, and think about how community is present in the life and liturgies of your worshiping community”

Play video to the end. Invite the group to come back together for conversation. 

Small Group Conversation  (40 minutes):

Open the small group conversation with the following question:

“Where is community present in the life and liturgies of your own worshiping community? How are these symbols and practices similar or dissimilar to what you heard and saw in the video?”

After the opening question has been discussed, choose any of the following questions to discuss with your small group. The facilitator should use their best judgment to select the questions that they believe will elicit meaningful conversation for your context. The small group may spend the entire time on one question, or do several. How many questions the group moves through is less important than fruitful conversation for the group. 

  • How has your experience of community influenced your spiritual journey?
  • Brother Jim says, “We are created as social beings, and God is a community of persons. It’s actually to ourhealth that we do come together as community and have our rough edges rub up against those of others.”When have you had a rough edge rubbed off?
  • Brother David says, “Silence is a gift that allows us to recognize and revere the mystery of every person. OnlyGod can know this person as who they truly are.” How can being silent help you know someone better?
  • In a healthy community, individuals can flourish as individuals. Tell a story about a time you were accepted exactly as you are.

When there are about five minutes left for conversation, ask the following question:

“How has your experience of the Signs of Life (Light, Water, Food, Shelter, Community) been transformed?”

Wrap Up/Weekly Practice   (5 minutes):

Remind the participants of the weekly practice. Distribute the Practicing Signs of Life handout for Light. Reiterate the instructions from the video:

“Here is a reminder of the daily practice for this Sign of Life. When you spend time with other people this week, be fully present with them, putting away distractions, and ask them to do the same. Remember that Jesus dwells in each of us and is manifest among us in community.”

Assuming this is your final session, facilitator should thank people for participation and suggest upcoming formation opportunities, or recommended resources for continuing spiritual deepening.

Worship (10 minutes):

Pass out the worship handouts to each participant. The facilitator may wish to lead worship, or may invite another participant to lead worship. Groups may wish to use the altarscape as a focal point during their worship time. 

After worship, the small group session has ended.

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