The most important work that we can do as a church is to foster the
creation of lifelong friendships. Through the small group ministry
program, we seek to create a structure whereby members and friends can
easily establish deep, meaningful, personal relationships, and to establish
those relationships in a relatively short period of time. It differs
from many of our current small groups, in that it is carefully structured in
the following manner:
Group Size. Each group is encourage to have between eight and
twelve members that meet regularly -- at least once per month.
Facilitator. Each group has a trained facilitator whose task
it is to ensure that the group follows the set of guidelines that the group
has agreed to.
Opening Ritual. Each meeting begins with a brief ritual, the
purpose of which is to help focus the group on the present moment and to
heighten a sense of respect for the life of the group.
Check In. Each person is allowed a brief period of time to
speak about what is going on in their life at the present time. During
this time, side conversations are not allowed, and unless a participant
specifically asks for advice, none is offered.
Discussion. After check in, the group begins an open
discussion. The subject might happen to be something that one of the
members touched on during the check in. Or it might be a subject that
the facilitator brings to the group.
Ending Ritual. The meeting ends promptly at an agreed upon
time with a brief ending ritual.
Church Project. Once a year, each group is encouraged to
choose and participate in a project that will help the church.
Community Project. Two times a year, each group is
encouraged to participate in a community service project of their choice.
The Unitarian Universalist congregations that have embraced Small Group
Ministry are among the fastest growing congregations in our denomination.
This program works because it goes right to the heart of why people visit
our church. People are looking for lasting friendships, and they are
looking for something that brings meaning to their lives. By making it
easier for people to find their niche in our church, we will experience
growth in numbers. And perhaps more importantly, we will experience
growth in our compassion for each other.