Posted on Friday December 14, 2012
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection.
The Christian faith is certainly held in a personal way, but not in a private way. Without Christ-centered friendships, our walk of faith will most certainly be a slower, less steady one, and we’re far more likely to fall and fail. In the past, with its many fraternal societies, guilds, clubs, and organizations like CYO, Catholic parishes were excellent centers of friendship and fellowship.
Unfortunately, these days, parishes are no longer the social centers they once were. Take the Church of the Nativity, for example. At Nativity, people might have had friends who happened to be in the parish, but it seemed like very few people had friends from church. The proof of this was obvious at weddings, baptisms, and funerals. People congregated at Nativity, but the congregation wasn’t a community.
What did the Church of the Nativity do to address this challenge? Small Groups.
Watch Chris and Lisa talk about small groups for students and kids.
Kids and Students, Small Groups Video
Big Church, Small Groups Video
Tom Corcoran shares six tips for getting and keeping people on a discipleship path through small groups.
You Can Do This: Start Small Groups in Your Parish
Start a small group with a few of your parishioners who are willing to give it a try. Meet weekly September through May, with a break for Christmas.
- Select a group leader, whose job is to make sure no one dominates, everyone talks, and the conversation doesn’t get stuck in content. Be open, be honest, be loving.
- Keep inviting other parishioners to join you, but don’t let people just come and go. They have to make a commitment to show up. When you grow beyond a dozen members, divide into two groups. The leader will have to be the one to encourage the members to do this. Repeat the process. But be sure to stay in close contact with new group leaders.
- Encourage your pastor to mention small groups from the pulpit, as a way of beginning to plant it in the culture of your parish.
- To get resources, including small group messages (in video format), questions, and other resources to start a small group in your parish, visit the Rebuilt Parish Association.