Building A Principled Family Life - A Study in Seven Sessions for Small Groups - Henri Schauffler
People join small groups for all sorts of reasons -- to know a few people well, to be cared for, to learn, to grow spiritually, to become true parents, to put truth into practice and to multiply our community. Experiencing community through a small group can lay a foundation of solid relationships for your life. By the end of these sessions, you will have developed a sense of community and a sense of self according to your original nature. And you will be ready to apply what you have learned in your day-to-day life.
Consider using the two tools offered at the beginning of the booklet to facilitate building community in your group:
Group Agreement -- a simple way for all of you to agree why you’re meeting, when and where you’ll meet, and basic values for the group.
ELEMENTS OF A SESSION:
Each session consists of Icebreakers, Readings, and Discussion Questions. You can complete the session in 60 to 90 minutes.
These simple, even lightweight questions are meant to do just what the name implies: break the ice for the meeting.
We come to group meetings with various types of difficulties, preoccupations and self-centered inclinations that keep us from opening up in a group to the readings or to the other members. Use the icebreakers to get everyone a little warmed up before getting in to the central part of the meeting.
This portion of each session includes words from the Bible and the teachings of Rev. Sun Myung Moon on the same biblical themes. Here are three different ways you can read the Readings:
a. As the group leader, read the sections out loud for the whole group and then move to the questions. This method is often preferred by groups that are somewhat new to each other.
b. Go around the circle and ask each person to read one section of the reading. This method is often preferred by groups that know each other well.
c. Ask a group member to volunteer to read the Reading for the group. It is best to ask someone in advance to give them time to read over the passages before the group starts. After someone has read it out loud, move to the questions.
d. Allow time at the beginning of the session for each person to read the Reading silently. If you use this option, be sure to give everyone enough time to finish.
The first questions are designed to help group members begin discussing the topic easily and with honesty and openness. Most of the discussion questions are to help group members relate the words of the readings to their daily lives. The last question at the end of each session is very practical and action-oriented. Through this question, please review the action goals and challenge group members to work on one or more of them in the coming week.
This section is, in one sense, the most important part of your meeting. This is the point at which your group members will make a commitment to life change. This is where the “rubber will hit the road;” whether the group will just be a nice gathering or become a place where lives are impacted. Make sure that each member makes his or her commitment to action during this step in writing. The following week, ask each member of the group to describe how his or her life changed as a result of taking action. Those who did not will be motivated by the testimonies of those who did.
The first meeting of any group is often a little stiff or strained, until each member reaches a certain comfort level with the group. This may take from ten minutes to several sessions, depending on the makeup of the group. If the members all know each other, or all have a recognizable affinity (such as belonging to the same congregation), a good comfort level will be reached more quickly.
In order to help the comfort level arrive more quickly, it might be a good idea to go over the purpose of the group and the Group Agreement (if you intend to use it) at the first meeting. This will get everyone talking, as well. Use the “Optional Group Organizing Questions” to get the members of the group talking about their interests for the group; you will be building ownership of the group as well.
Then go to the “Group Agreement” at the front of the book and fill in the blanks with the group. You might ask all members to pass their volumes around and have everyone fill in the “Group Directory” page. Don’t stay too long here, just ten minutes or less.
Then, go on to the next part of the session.
1. As you study each session ahead of time, ask God to help you understand and apply it in your own life. Unless this happens, you will not be prepared to lead others.
2. Carefully work through each question in the session. Spend time in meditation and reflection on both the reading and the questions as you formulate your answers.
3. Pray for the various members of your group.
4. Consider what the session means for your life, what changes you may need to make in your lifestyle, and/or what actions you can take in the church or with people you know.
1. Begin the session on time.
2. Make sure the group members understand the readings clearly before moving to the questions.
3. Don’t be afraid of silence after you read a question. People are simply thinking about the question!
4. Avoid answering the question yourself until others have responded and the group gets its own “flow” on that question.
5. Encourage more than one answer to each question.
6. Never reject an answer.
7. Avoid letting the group go off track.
8. If, at one point, things get particularly deep or insightful, don’t worry so much if you get through to the next questions. “Let the Spirit flow.”
9. Conclude your time together with prayer.
10. End on time.
11. Encourage fellowship time together after the session is over. You might want a host to prepare some simple snacks.
One Anothering, volumes 1 and 2, by Rev. Richard C. Meyer, Innisfree Press, Philadelphia, PA
Nine Keys to Effective Small Group Leadership, by Carl F. George, Kingdom Publishing, Mansfield, PA
Leading Life Changing Small Groups, by Bill Donahue, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI
Interactions Series, by Bill Hybels, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids MI. An excellent series of six-session small group booklets on topics such as character, love, parenting, marriage, family life, building community, growth, etc. Highly recommended
Prayer: Training for Opening Up to God, by In Hoi Lee, HSA Publications, New York, NY. The first of our Washington Family Church Small Group Series. A logical next step for a group after using this volume.
An excellent website: www.smallgroups.com
Our Washington Family Church Small Group Website: www.unification.net/dcsmallgroups
All titles are available on Amazon.com and BN.com