Connection to a community gives us a sense of belonging. We feel welcome for who we are (or maybe even in spite of who we are), becoming members of something larger than ourselves. We share common goals and mutual support that push us through difficult times and provide comfort when we need it. In groups, we learn habits and take on values that become a part of us and strengthen us.
This is a chapter about groups that are small (such as Bible studies and prayer groups) and groups that are large (such as retreats, game nights, speaker series, and prayer services). We will look at some very practical ways in which you can create experiences that will welcome newcomers and support, sustain, and inspire dedicated members. We will look at various approaches in a general way, and in part IV we will look closely at things we can do to provide healing, proclaiming, and teaching experiences specifically designed for various age groups.
Top Takeaways from Chapter 8
People don’t like to be sold, but the like to be invited. Inviting someone to a group event can be a great way to show someone they are welcomed by you and your community and give them the opportunity to encounter Christ.
Groups only grow through personal invitations.
Bulletin announcements and Facebook group invites are nice, but nothing can replace the power of personal invitations to join a small or large group.
Small Groups are Essential
People come for Christ, but they stay for the community. All parishes must have some form of small-group ministry in order to evangelize.
The goals of small groups are personal connection and cultivating curiosity. Debates and definitive answers are more effective in other settings.
Large-group experiences should be remarkable.
They should give people something to talk (remark) about. It is the only way they will grow.
Branding is Important.
When people talk about your group, what do they say? A name can go a long way in guiding that conversation.
“Does Your Parish Have a Shallow End?”
“Small Groups Nuts and Bolts”
Ben Reed & Colleen Vermeulen
“How to Start a Small Group Program”
“Small Groups Are Not the Answer”
The Evangelical Catholic
“Why No One is Showing Up to Your Event”
“The Changing Challenge of Engaging the Unchurched”
Fr. Michael White
“Why Welcoming is the Key to the New Evangelization”
K. Albert Little
“Evangelization through Community: Why Catholic Beer Club is Different”
Derek Roush (Parish Catalyst)