Shelter: 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 shelter, you will need the “barn” part of a crèche. You will not need the figurines from the nativity scene, just the shelter itself.

Gathering Prayer/Setting the Altarscape: (5 minutes) 

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

Beloved God, who, in your mercy, shelters us with your tender embrace; grant that we may know you as our one truerefuge from the world of suffering, and help us to offer compassionate sanctuary to our neighbors in need; even as youdwell within and among us, one holy and undivided Trinity, forever and ever. Amen.

After the prayer, place the shelter of the crèche on the table. Take a few moments to pause and think about shelter.

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 food. How did you notice the presence of food 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 shelter is explored, and think about how shelter 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 shelter 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 shelter influenced your spiritual journey?
  • Have you ever come home to a place you’ve never been before?
  • When have you found shelter in God?
  • Shelter doesn’t necessarily imply a physical space. When you provided shelter for another, or been sheltered by another?
  • How has the knowledge that are always sheltered by God enabled you to take difficult journeys?
  • Is your church truly a place of sanctuary for all? Why or why not?

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

“What do you understand differently about shelter because of this conversation?”

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. This week, when you return to the place you feel most at home, pay attention to what you set down or let go.

This is also the time when the facilitator should remind participants of housekeeping details for the next session.

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.

1 Comment

  1. Wayne Girard on March 23, 2020 at 11:40 am

    Do to covid19 I have been continuing on this on my own. I just commend you and thank you for this study. I am thoroughly enjoying/learning from all the aspects of it.
    Thank you all.

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