Many small groups are meeting regularly in parishes across our diocese and beyond. Whether these are Small Christian Communities, parish committees, parish pastoral councils, Knights of Columbus, such gatherings require some leadership and group facilitation. Below is a list of tips, designed especially for faith sharing based on the Scriptures. Many people are new in such a group setting and need time to become comfortable with this kind of group reflection. The following list can be helpful to both group leaders/facilitators and group members, as it will clarify the group process and helps define roles.
1. Creating an atmosphere of welcome and hospitality is crucial. Showing a genuine interest and appreciation of people’s presence will go a long way in achieving this.
2. Pay attention to your surroundings by the use of symbols. An open Bible or Lectionary with a lit candle, for example, draws participants into a tone of reverence and reflection.
3. Be clear in communicating the amount of time allotted to the faith sharing part of your meeting. Ask the group members’ contribution in respecting this time limit.
4. Take some time before the meeting to review the resource and the Scriptures you will use for your faith sharing time. If possible, pray and reflect on its content ahead of time. Familiarizing yourself with both the resource and the Scriptures themselves will increase your comfort level and ease of facilitation.
5. Explain the format for this portion of your meeting, ensure that materials are available and invite questions for clarification.
6. Allow a few minutes of silence after reading the Scripture.
7. At the appropriate time, invite participants to share experiences, insights, opinions while also encouraging a reverent listening to one another. If the group is too large to make sharing possible, invite people to share in two or threes only.
8. Encourage sharing on personal experiences rather than discussion on specific topics. Help participants to talk about their faith and how they live it. Invite everyone, but force no one.
9. Remind the group of their covenant to one another in respecting confidentiality. If needed, remind the group of the purpose of this portion of the meeting, i.e. deepen one’s faith, offer support, strengthen bonds of community etc.).
10. At the end of this portion of your meeting, thank everyone for their particip-ation, expressing your hope to be together in this way again in the future.