The purpose of this Parish Small Group Ministry website is to assist your parish with planning and implementing a parish based, pastor guided, small group ministry that is on-going and integrated into the life of your parish.

It intentionally places all small groups, both those existing and any new ones, into your parish formation program. All small groups are under the authority of the pastor, and all facilitators report into the small group ministry.

This website provides an example structure, tools and documents to plan and implement the ministry. Each parish has its own unique charisms and culture. As you plan your ministry, feel free to customize these tools to fit your parish – use those elements that work for you (as is, or as revised), or create your own.

Your parish may start with just a few small groups, or it may start with many – that’s great either way. The key is to get started and build from there.

The Archdiocese is here to assist you in this important work of evangelization.

  • If you have any questions or suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact Sonya Flomo in the Office of Marriage, Family and Life. Email: flomos@archspm.org. Phone: (651) 291-4488.

Parish Assessment

1. Assessment Meeting


Meeting Agenda

Below is a meeting agenda and information for the parish pastor, head of faith formation and other attendees (staff and/or volunteers) to assess whether to invest in a parish small group ministry.


Opening Prayer

1. Value

  • Discuss the value of investing in a parish based, pastor guided, small group (SG) ministry.
  • See “VALUE” below.

2. Archdiocese support

  • Training and Planning Meeting – The Archdiocese will provide a half day training and planning session for parish core teams each spring (or as scheduled with your parish).
  • On-going Support – The Archdiocese will provide on-going support throughout the sessions to support parish ministries.

3. Parish resources

  • Assess parish resources needed to support the ministry.
  • See “RESOURCES” below.

4. Decide if your parish will launch a small group ministry. If so:

    • Form your core team – see 2. Core Team.

  • Form a prayer team that prays weekly, or more frequently, specifically for this ministry and small group facilitators.

VALUE – A parish based small group ministry provides the following benefits to pastor, parishioner, and parish:


1. Small groups (SGs) further the parish mission – of making the name of Jesus Christ know and loved – by providing effective faith formation and growth in the four signs of a dynamic Catholic:

  • Prayer: Fuels individual and corporate prayer (Mass and Sacraments)
  • Continuous Learning: Provides spiritual growth, support and accountability in Christian living
  • Generosity: Incorporates service to parish and community
  • Evangelization: Emboldens members to share their faith

The facilitator training materials gives examples of ideas for keeping small groups balanced in each of these four signs.


2. SGs build strong fellowship and community, connecting people to others, their parish and Christ

  • SGs are an opportunity to create deep and lasting relationships with people who will share times of joy in your life, and encourage and help you in times of difficulty.
  • SGs connect parishioners with each other, and personalize a large parish.
  • SGs can be offered opportunities to volunteer at the parish as a group (from a list of opportunities provided by the parish), thereby providing another means to connect them back into the life of the parish.

3. SGs formed with people who share common interest or bonds will tend to stay together long term

  • The parish can assist in the formation of small groups with groups of parishioners who share common interests or bonds in life.
  • Examples include men’s, women’s or couples small groups for young married couples, parents with young children, parents who recently baptized a child, parents of children in 2nd grade faith formation or confirmation, grandparents or singles.
  • For parishes with a school, starting a morning on-site study with small groups fosters strong community spirit and provides a powerful witness to the school children.

 4. The SG ministry structure is flexible, allowing SGs to be relevant and convenient for members

  • SGs choose their own materials (from an approved parish list) that are pertinent to their needs and interests.
  • SGs set their own meeting dates, times and location.
  • SGs typically meet for a 10-12 week fall session (mid-September to early December) and a 10-12 week winter session (early January to spring break), but may meet at other times as well.

5. SGs provide an opportunity to develop facilitators into evangelized, future parish leaders

  • The SG coordinator will establish a relationship with each facilitator to support them, as needed, as well as let them know of opportunities available to further their spiritual development (silent retreats in the area, Archdiocesan events, etc.). Through this relationship and these opportunities, small group facilitators can develop into parish leaders.

6. SGs strengthen marriages and families

  • The SG ministry can offer materials for couples to strengthen marriages.
  • Evangelized and catechized adults pass on the faith to their children and grandchildren, strengthening families.

7. A parish based SG ministry provides another avenue for the pastor to evangelize and catechize parishioners

  • If the pastor wishes, he could provide reflection questions from his Sunday homily for SGs to discuss that week. The SG coordinator would simply email the questions to the facilitators.
  • Another option is for the pastor to ask all SGs to use the same materials for one session, allowing the parish to grow in their faith with common material and language. For example, the parish could give out Matthew Kelly’s book “The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic” at Christmas for a winter session book study, which would allow for a common reference point in homilies.
  • The pastor could facilitate his own small group for one session with parishioners who are potential parish leaders, to prepare them for future leadership roles. For example, the pastor could invite four or five young married couples to join him for the six week Oremus (Ascension Press) study on prayer at a convenient time (such as after Saturday morning Mass).

RESOURCES –


1. Time of Staff

DRE and his/her assistant overseeing the ministry:

  • Staff time for administrative matters
    • Booking rooms, updating the website, preparing forms, ordering materials, coordinating day care (if that is offered for on-site studies)
  • Core team time requirements (staff or volunteers):
    • The initial launch year requires more time than subsequent years, where the structure is set and the core team can simply focus on growing the ministry
    • The busiest times are planning the ministry and enlisting SG facilitators (April/May or summer), and training facilitators and hosting the sign-up weekends (September)
    • An Archdiocesan coordinator can review in more detail estimated time requirements by month at the assessment meeting, based on the number of SGs your parish expects

2. Time of Pastor

  • Although the Pastor may choose to be more involved, he can limit his involvement to the initial assessment meeting and approval, the messaging at the announcement and sign-up weekends, and the approval of facilitators.
  • The remainder of the work can be done by the core team, with periodic status updates and approval by the pastor.

3. Time of volunteers:

  • Parish volunteers will be needed as small group facilitators.

4. Out of Pocket Expenses

  • Small group member materials
    • Members will pay for their own materials.
    • A parish scholarship fund may be needed.
  • Lectures online
    • Recently, providers such as the Augustine Institute’s FORMED.ORG website and Ascension Press have begun offering a wide range of high quality study materials and lectures online.
    • For FORMED.ORG, parishes can register for an annual or monthly fee to allows all parishioners access to all of the study materials and lectures, or individuals can register for a monthly fee.
    • For Ascension Press, the small group registers online and must purchase at least four sets of member materials from Ascension Press. After that, the registered members are given online access to lectures for the study they purchased without any further charge.
  • Lectures by DVD or CD
    • Parish funds may be needed to purchase DVDs or CDs to lend to small groups.
    • The parish could create a lending library by purchasing the DVDs or CDs and/or asking parishioners to donate their materials. If available, the parish could borrow from a nearby parish.
    • Consider costs of DVDs or CDs when selecting materials for small groups.
  • See 5. Small Group Materials for more information
  • Other expenses are minimal – photocopies, posters, a binder with dividers

2. Core Team


Identify, Invite and Form your Parish Core Team


1. Considerations

  • At least one core team member should be on parish staff.
  • Assign a woman as the coordinator for women’s small groups (SGs), and a man for men’s SGs, (either may be the coordinator for the couples SGs).
  • Your parish core team may be small or large.
    • At a minimum, it should include the parish DRE/head of faith formation, a coordinator for men’s SGs, and a coordinator for women’s/couples SGs.
    • For parishes with a school, consider adding a school coordinator to recruit and organize an on-site study tailored for school parents.
    • Consider adding a member who handles administrative matters (booking rooms for on-site studies, creating and copying forms, ordering SG materials, etc.).
    • Consider adding a member who handles communications (advertising, bulletin, website, and other parish communications).

Review core team member job descriptions and scope of work.

2. Identify your parish Core Team Member Names

  • DRE/Head of Faith Formation
  • Men’s SG Coordinator
  • Women’s and Couples SG Coordinator
  • Parish School SG Coordinator (where applicable)
  • Administrative Rep
  • Communications Rep

3. Assign who will call and invite the core team members

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4. Tentatively plan the date and location of the first core team meeting


JOB DESCRIPTION


1. Core Team Member


Job Description

  • Faithful/Desire: Faithful practicing Catholic who desires to help others grow in faith.
  • Available Time: Has the available time to meet and fulfill the scope of work.
  • Shared Vision: Recognizes the authority of the pastor and willingness to support his vision.
  • Experience: Has participated in and/or facilitated SGs.

Scope of Work

  • Attend core team meetings.
  • Plan and oversee SG ministry tasks noted on this website.
  • Support the SG ministry coordinator, as needed.

2. SG Ministry Coordinator

Job Description

  • Same as Core Team Member plus the following:
    • Interpersonal and Communication Skills – is able to and enjoys working with different personality types, and is people and service orientated.
    • Organizational skills – able to coordinate and organize the various SG meetings and ministry calendar.
    • Computer skills – able to use Email, Microsoft Word and the parish office technology to organize and execute the various tasks.
    • Staff member or committed volunteer working under an assigned staff member.

Scope of Work

  • Core team member.
  • Oversee the SG ministry working with the core team, parish staff and SG facilitators.
  • Campaign start-up phase:
    • Meet with SG facilitators to plan their study.
    • Meet with SG facilitators to train them (using the training materials provided).
    • Maintain the tracking document and binder.
  • On-going phase:
    • Communicate with and mentor SG facilitators; provide support as needed.
    • Connect SG facilitators with each other, where possible, for support.
    • Thank and encourage SG facilitators.
  • Wrap-up phase:
    • Plan and coordinate end of session events.
    • Gather feedback from SG facilitators and members.
    • Work with the core team to implement improvements for the next SG session.

Planning

3. Ministry Overview

Once your core team is formed, you are ready to begin planning and implementing your parish small group ministry. The web page gives an overview of the tabs/tasks involved.

In this Tab 3, we provide an overview of each of those tabs.


General Comments

1. Parish Based & Flexible:

  • This web page provides an example structure, tools and documents to plan and implement a parish based small group ministry. It intentionally places all of the small groups, both those existing and any new ones, into your parish formation program.
  • All small groups are under the authority of the pastor, and all facilitators report into the small group ministry.
  • Each parish has its own unique charisms and culture. As you plan your parish ministry, feel free to customize these tools – use those elements that work for you (as is, or as revised), or create your own.

2. Ministry Launch:

  • Initially, your parish may start with just a few small groups, or it may start with many – that’s great either way. The key is to get started and build from there.

3. Ministry is Ongoing and Woven into the Life of the Parish:

  • Small groups will continue year after year, and the ministry is flexible to incorporate different types of small groups as they arise.
  • The website and facilitator training materials offer ideas to weave the small groups into the life of the parish.

4. Small Groups are Balanced to Form Intentional Disciples:

  • This website contains training and ideas to keep small groups balanced in the four signs of a dynamic Catholic – prayer, continuous learning, generosity and evangelization – thereby forming intentional disciples with healthy spiritual lives.

5. Administrative Note:

  • Given the many tasks involved in launching a ministry, it can be easy to let meeting discussions move from one task to another without completing any given task.
  • To efficiently implement your ministry, focus your meeting on one Tab/task (or two). Complete the Tab/task at the meeting, or with immediate follow-up, and then move on to the next Tab/task.

Questions?

The Archdiocese is here to assist you in this important work of evangelization. Do not hesitate to contact Sonya Flomo in the Office of Marriage, Family and Life.


Tabs 4-6:  Small Group Types

Below are examples of various types of small groups you may incorporate into your parish ministry. Feel free to use one, several, or all of these, or create other types that meet the needs of your parish.


Type #1 “Start Your Own Small Group” (Tab 4)

A facilitator invites their friends, neighbors or co-workers and forms their own small group. The parish assists the facilitator in selecting materials and planning their small group, which may meet on or off site.

Because the facilitator makes private invitations, this small group is not advertised or open to parishioners at the parish sign-up weekends.


Type #2: “Parish On-Site Small Groups” (Tab 4)

The parish plans and runs on-site studies open to all parishioners who sign up at the parish sign-up weekends. For example, a parish may host an on-site study Tuesday morning, Thursday evening, and Saturday morning during the fall and winter sessions.

Parishioners sign-up at the parish sign-up weekends.

The parish recruits facilitators and forms the small groups based on registrants (men’s, women’s and/or couples).


Type #3: “Parish On-Site Small Groups – Parish School Parents” (Tab 5)

The parish plans and runs an on-site study open to all parishioners but designed for and intentionally advertised to parents of the children attending the parish school. For example, the parish hosts a Tuesday morning on-site study tailored for parents of the parish school.

Parishioners/parents sign-up at the parish sign-up weekend. In addition, the core team develops a communications plan to invite school parents to join the study.

The parish recruits facilitators and forms the small groups based on registrants (men’s, women’s and/or couples).

See Tabs 4 and 5 for further details.


Type #4 “Common Interest and Bonds Small Groups” (Tab 6)

The parish plans and organizes small groups for people who share common interests or bonds. For example, the parish calls couples who recently baptized a child, and invites them to join a small group together (men’s, women’s and/or couples).

The hope is that the parish can connect parishioners who share common interests or bonds and will stay together as a small group for the long term. As a result, these groups are typically not available for sign-up at the parish sign-up weekends (although can be if they are not full).

The parish recruits facilitators for these groups.

See Tabs 4 and 6 for further details.


Type #5: “Facilitator Planned Small Groups” (Tab 4)

A facilitator registers with the parish and meets with the parish coordinator to plan their study (materials, date/time/location of meeting).

The small group is then open to parishioners to sign up at the parish sign-up weekend. The small group may meet on-site or off-site.

This is popular among couples who prefer to facilitate a couples small group in their home.


Type #6: Parish Faith Ministries – The Catholic Watchmen, Alpha, “Christ Renews His Parish” (Tab 4)

Parish based faith ministries involve group meetings, and are an opportunity to invite participants to also join a small group.

For The Catholic Watchmen, the Parish Vanguard (in the role of facilitator) plans monthly gatherings of parish men, with prayer, adoration, confession, meal and discussion on the Seven Disciplines. The monthly events are held on-site, with materials and a video provided by the Archdiocese. These events are open to all men of the parish, and are advertised with sign-ups at the parish sign-up weekends.


Tab 7:  Small Group Materials

Below are three approaches to small group materials:

Option #1: Approved List

The parish provides a list of approved small group materials, from which facilitators can select the materials for their small group.

Options may include materials specifically designed for men, women or of general interest to all.

Another option is to say all the materials on the Augustine Institute’s FORMED.ORG, Ascension Press and/or Dynamic Catholic websites are approved.

Option #2: Sequenced Approach

The parish asks each small group to start with a certain overview study (for example, Symbolon by the Augustine Institute or Catholicism by Bishop Robert Barron), after which the small group is free to pick from the approved list.

Option #3: All Parish Approach

The pastor and core team select one set of materials to be used by all small groups for that session. For example, the parish could give away The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic by Matthew Kelly at Christmas, and have all small groups do the book study in the winter session (January to March).


Tab 8:  Ministry Calendar & Communications Plan

1. Announcement Weekend

The Pastor announces the ministry to the parish, typically on a spring or summer weekend.

2. Sign-up Weekends

The parish hosts one or two sign-up weekends after Masses for parishioners to sign up for a small group.

For the fall session, these are typically held in mid-September.

For the winter session, these are held in early January.

3. Sessions

Fall Session – Mid-September to early December (appx. 10-12 weeks; can be shorter).

Winter Session – Early January to spring break (appx. 10-12 weeks; can be shorter).

Note – Some small groups may opt to continue to meet over the summer. Once formed, small groups will often continue to meet for years to come.

4. End of Session Events

Advent or Lenten Morning of Reflection, Man Night, social event, or any other event to gather together members of all small groups.

5. Communications Plan

Prepare a communications calendar and plan for the ministry. This includes bulletin announcements and inserts, parish electronic communications, website and face book update, testimonies after Mass, etc.


Tab 9:  Tracking Report & Binder

A parish can effectively manage the small group ministry using a tracking report in Microsoft Excel and a 3-ring binder.

The tracking report captures the pertinent data needed, and allows for an “at-a-glance” review to identify any outstanding tasks. See Tab 9 for a downloadable report your parish can use.

The 3-ring binder contains a few printed documents for each small group – the small group member list, and the Archdiocese and parish insurance forms.


Tab 10:  FAQs

FAQs for parishioners to explain the small group ministry. Samples provided.

FAQs for facilitators to explain how to register and become a small group facilitator. Samples provided.

Note – FAQs can be provided as a bulletin insert at the announcement weekend, added to the website, and otherwise be made available.


Tab 11:  Recruit & Register Facilitators

Facilitator recruiting ideas and communication.

Facilitator expectations and registration process.


Tab 12:  Facilitator Small Group Planning Session

The small group coordinator meets with facilitators to plan their small groups.

  • This is applicable only for facilitators who have a “Start Your Own Small Group” or a “Facilitator Planned small group.”
  • For parish planned small groups, the parish selects the materials, plans the study and recruits the facilitators. As a result, no planning session, or only an abbreviated session, is needed.

This section contains the meeting agenda and forms for these facilitator meetings, including:

  • An overview of the ministry,
  • Role of the parish in supporting the facilitator, and
  • Planning the specifics of the small group (selecting materials, meeting dates, time and location).

Tab 13:  Facilitator Training Session

Train small group facilitators. Materials provided include:

  • Packet A: Preparing for your Small Group
  • Packet B: Sample Small Group Documents
  • Packet C: Facilitating a Small Group Discussion
  • Packet D: Suggestions for Building a Balanced & Healthy Small Group
  • Packet E: Archdiocesan & Parish Insurance and Safety Forms

Tab 14:  On-going Support of Facilitators

One to one communications with facilitators to encourage and support them.

Periodic communications to all facilitators to inform and inspire.


Tab 15:  Implementation – Announcement Weekend

Select a weekend to announce and explain the new ministry.

Encourage parishioners to “Start Your Own Small Group” or to sign-up for one at the parish sign-up weekends.

Invite parishioners who are interested in facilitating a “parish on-site small group” or a “facilitator planned” small group to fill out an “Interested Facilitator Registration Form.”


Tab 16:  Implementation – Sign-up Weekend

Plan for two sign-up weekends prior to the fall session, typically in early to mid September.

Plan for one (or two) sign-up weekends for the winter session, typically in early January.


Tab 17:  Implementation – End of Session Events

The parish may elect to have an end of session event to gather together all members of small groups, such as an Advent or Lenten Morning of Reflection, man night, or a social event.


Tab 18: Wrap Up & Next Session

Four to six weeks prior to the end of session, meet or call facilitators to plan the next session for their small group.

Thank facilitators, and obtain feedback to improve the process and ministry.


Tab 19: Resources

Helpful resources and websites.

4. Small Group (SG) Types – General

In this Tab 4, we discuss a variety of types of small groups your parish may incorporate into its ministry.  They include:

Feel free to use one, several or all of these types, or create other types that meet the needs of your parish.

Your parish may start with just a few small groups, or it may start with many – that’s great either way. The key is to get started and build from there session after session.


Type #1:  “Start Your Own Small Group”

1. Getting Started/Facilitator Registration (Tab 11)

At the parish Announcement weekend, parishioners will hear about the opportunity to invite friends, neighbors and/or co-workers and form their own small group. If a parishioner is interested, he/she/the couple registers with the parish as a facilitator to start their own small group.

See Tab 10 for sample FAQs for persons interested in registering as a facilitator.


2. Small Group Planning (Tab 12)

Meeting: The Small Group Coordinator will meet with the facilitator to plan the study.

Materials: Together they will select the materials, and discuss the best way for members to purchase the materials. If a DVD lecture is involved, provision is made for the DVDs – parish lending library or purchase. (See Tab 7 Materials)

Calendar: They will set the calendar for the session and the meeting location. The group may meet on or off site. (See Tab 8 Calendar)

Advertisement/Registration: If the facilitator wants, the Coordinator will help prepare an advertisement and registration form the facilitator can give to invitees.  For an example/template, see the following document: “SG.Adv.Reg.Startown.2016

See Tab 12 for more planning details and ideas.


3. Small Group Member Registration

The facilitator personally invites friends, neighbors and/or co-workers to their small group. Once the small group is set, the facilitator will send the parish the member list, which will be kept on file at the parish.

Because the facilitator makes private invitations, this small group is not advertised or open for parishioner sign-up at the parish sign-up weekends.


Type #2:  “Parish On-Site Small Groups”

1. Getting Started/Parish Hosts & Run:

The parish hosts and runs on-site small groups (for men, women and couples) which are planned in advanced by the parish, advertised at the parish-signup weekends and open to all parishioners who signup.

The parish decides when to offer these small group studies. For example, the parish hosts 3 options in the fall session – Tuesday morning, Thursday evening, and Saturday morning.


2. Facilitator Registration (Tab 11)

The parish invites and registers facilitators (men’s, women’s and/or couples) for these studies in advance.

For the first session, make an educated guess at the number of facilitators needed. If there are extra facilitators, assign some as back-up facilitators. If there are not enough, look through the registrants to see who you can recruit and train.

After the first session, it will be easier to predict how many and what type of facilitators (men’s, women’s or couples) you will need.


3. Small Group Planning (Tab 12)

Planning: The parish plans these studies in advance.

Materials: The parish selects the materials, choosing something that will appeal to men, women and couples.  Examples include Ascension Press’ “James” study, or Bishop Robert Barron’s “Catholicism” study.

  • The parish acquires the member materials in advance (and returns any unused sets).
  • If DVD lectures are included, the parish purchases the DVDs in advance and/or uses a set from the parish lending library.

Calendar: The parish sets the meeting calendar.  For example, the fall session could start the last week of September and end in early December.

Advertisement/Registration: Because the parish plans and hosts these small groups, you may prepare an advertisement/registration form and advertise these in advance, as well as at the parish sign-up weekends. For an example/template, see the following document: “SG.Adv.Reg.Parishonsite.2016

Small Group Member Registration

Parishioners sign-up at the parish sign-up weekends. Or, the parish may choose to advertise these small groups at the announcement weekend and take registrations in advance.


Type #3:  “Parish On-Site Small Groups – Parish School Parents” (Tab 5)

The parish hosts and runs an on-site study open to all parishioners but designed for and intentionally advertised to parents of children at the parish school. For example, the parish hosts a Tuesday morning on-site study and tailors it for parents of the parish school (coordinate start date and time with the school calendar, offer child care, prepare an advertising and registration form, and prepare a communications plan to invite all parents).

Parishioners/parents sign-up at the parish sign-up weekend, or by completing the registration form in advance.

The parish recruits facilitators and forms the small groups based on the registrants.

See Tab 5 for further details.


Type #4:  “Common Interest and Bonds Small Groups” (Tab 6)

The parish recruits a facilitator, plans and organizes small groups for people who share common interests and bonds. Once formed, these small groups continue session after session like any other small group, and will tend to stay together for the long term.

Example common interest and bonds small groups include (men’s, women’s or couples):

  • Young married couples
  • Couples with young children
  • Parents of children recently baptized
  • Parents of second grade children making first sacraments
  • Parents of children making confirmation
  • Young singles
  • Grandparents
  • Parishioners in senior living


See Tab 6 for more ideas and details.


Type #5: “Facilitator Planned Small Groups”

1. Getting Started/Facilitator Registration (Tab 11)

At the parish Announcement weekend, parishioners will hear about the opportunity to register as a facilitator and have their small group advertised at the parish sign-up weekends.

This is particularly popular among couples who wish to facilitator a couples small group in their home.


2. Small Group Planning (Tab 12)

Meeting: The Small Group Coordinator will meet with the facilitator to plan the study.

Materials: Together they will select the materials, and discuss the best way for members to purchase the materials.  If a DVD lecture is involved, provision is made for the DVDs – parish lending library or purchase.

Calendar: They will set the calendar for the session and the meeting location.  The group may meet on or off site.

Advertisement / Registration: If the facilitator wants, the Coordinator will help prepare an advertisement and sign-up form the facilitator can give to invitees.

For an example / template, see the following document: “SG.Adv.Reg.Facilitatorplanned.2016

See Tab 12 for more planning details and ideas.


3. Small Group Member Registration

The facilitators may invite some friends, neighbors or coworkers to start their small group, and also allow parishioners to sign-up at the parish sign-up weekend to fill it up.Or, the facilitators may simply advertise their small group at the parish sign-up weekend for anyone who is interested in signing up.


Type #6:  Parish Faith Ministries – The Catholic Watchman, Alpha, Christ Renews His Parish

For The Catholic Watchman:

1. Getting Started/Facilitator Registration

The parish Vanguard (in the role of facilitator) plans monthly gatherings of parish men, involving prayer, adoration, confession, meal and discussion of the Seven Disciplines

Men of the parish will have the opportunity to sign-up at the parish sign-up weekends.


2. Event Planning 

Meeting: The parish vanguard plans the events.

Materials: The Archdiocese provides the materials and a short video.

Calendar: The parish Vanguard sets the monthly meeting dates, which take place on-site.

Advertisement: The Catholic Watchmen is advertised at the parish sign-up weekends.


3. Registration

Parish men can sign-up for the Watchmen at the parish sign-up weekends, and thereafter.


4. Invitation

Invite participants to join a small group at the parish as another opportunity to grow in faith.

5. SG Types – Parishes with a School

In this Tab 5, we provide an extended discussion of this small group option.

Gathering parish school parents together for scripture study in a small group setting is a powerful way to evangelize and catechize while building strong fellowship and community. Parents enjoy being on site where their children are being educated and formed in their faith. Children enjoy seeing their parents at school (parish) praying, learning and growing in their faith.

To accomplish this, the parish may offer a “Parish On-site Small Group” option one morning a week, and then tailor it for parents of children at the parish school. This small group option is open to all parishioners of the parish at the parish sign-up weekends, but is specifically advertised and designed for parents of children at the parish school.

Below are considerations for starting such a small group option at your parish.


1. Facilitator Registration

The parish recruits and registers parents of parish school children to facilitate the small groups.

You may opt to have other parishioners facilitate as well.


2. Materials

For the first session in the fall, the parish selects the materials, using materials appealing to all parents. For example, the parish may select the Ascension Press James study, or Bishop Robert Barron’s Catholicism study.

For the winter session, the parish may choose the materials, or the parish may allow the facilitators or small group members some input. For example, the parish and facilitators may select three options, and then allow the small group members to vote.


3. Calendar

The parish prepares the small group meeting calendar (start/end date and any breaks) with the school calendar in mind. For example, start the study the 3rd week of school and end in early December. Break for all of the school breaks, and for any busy weeks at school such as Catholic Schools week.

Set the start time shortly after parents drop their children off at school.

Make the first session a meet and greet, with a speaker and hospitality. This allows time for parents to invite other parents, socialize and build community, and time to distribute small group materials.


4. Advertisement / Communication Plan

Prepare an advertisement / registration form for the study in the spring or early summer. For an example, see the following document: SG.Adv.Reg.parishonsite.2016

Prepare a communications plan that specifically advertises the small group opportunity to parents of children at the parish school. Opportunities to advertise will vary by parish school. Some ideas include:

  • Have a staffed table with the advertisement/registration form at all school functions – curriculum night, back to school night, or any other gatherings of school parents.
  • Advertise in the school announcements.
  • Send the advertisement/registration form home in kids’ backpacks.
  • Ask the school to speak at any parent functions, where appropriate.
  • Recruit one parent in each grade to be a grade captain who will call or otherwise personally invite every parent in that grade.

5. Member Registration

In order to gather as many parents as possible, start inviting parents early (spring and summer) using the advertisement/registration form.

Also take registrations of parents and parishioners during the parish sign-up weekends.

Registrations may be taken throughout the session, or your parish may set a cutoff date.


6. Child care

If possible, provide on-site child care.


7. Small Group Assignment

If there are enough registrants for more than one small group, consider assigning parents with similarly aged children to the same small group, so they can form supportive and long lasting relationships as their children grow in age together.


8. Connect the Children in the Parish School with the Parents in the Small Groups

Talk to the school principal about ways to connect the children in the school with the parents in the small groups. For example:

Ask the school principal for volunteer needs at the school, and include that in the list of service opportunities provided to facilitators for their small groups to do together.

Or, ask if the younger school children can perform a song from their Christmas concert at the end of the small groups one week.

6. SG Types – Common Interest and Bonds

In Tab 4 we discussed various types of small groups, and briefly mentioned the parish forming “common interest and bonds small groups.”

In this Tab 6, we provide an extended discussion of these small groups.


Connecting parishioners who share common interest and bonds will strengthen your parish community.

These small groups tend to stay together for the long term. Core Team effort is needed to form these small groups initially, but once formed the administrative effort is no more than any other small group in the ministry.

Below are some ideas for inviting and forming common interest and bonds small groups. Try these, or any others that work for your parish.


1. Types of Common Interest and Bonds Small Groups

Identify the types of common interest and bonds small groups that would work for your parish.

Examples include (men’s, women’s and/or couples):

  • Young married couples
  • Couples with young children
  • Parents of children recently baptized
  • Parents of second grade children making first sacraments
  • Parents of children making confirmation
  • Young singles
  • Grandparents
  • Parishioners in senior living

2. Recruit and Register a Facilitator

  • Recruit and register a facilitator(s) from among the identified group.
  • See Tab 12 for more details on recruiting and registering facilitators.

3. Meet with Facilitator to Plan the Small Group (See Tab 12 for more details)

Materials

  • Select study materials appealing to the group (See Tab 7), and discuss how the materials will be purchased.
  • If the study materials have a DVD lecture, discuss whether the DVDs will be purchased (by the parish or small group) or are available in the parish lending library.

Calendar

  • Set the day / time of meetings. Small group schedules are flexible, and can be structured to fit the needs of the group.
    • Depending on the group, these groups may start later in the session. For example, announce the ministry at the first parent meeting for second grade first sacrament students (or confirmation students, etc.), hand out the advertisement / registration forms, and invite parents to register.  If the parent meeting is in early October, the first small group meeting may be at the end of October.  Simply select shorter materials to be completed by Christmas, or continue to use the materials into the winter session.

Meeting Location

  • These groups may meet on or off site.

Advertisement and Registration Form

  • Create an advertisement and registration form for inviting members, as these groups may form after the parish signup weekends. For an example/template, see the following document: SG.Adv.Reg.Commoninterest.2016

4. Advertising and Registration Plan

Young Married Couples

  • Get a list from the parish of recently married couples or other young married couples in the parish. Have the Core Team or the recruited facilitator call and personally invite them to the small group.
  • If they can not join this small group, invite them to sign up for one of the parish on-site small groups at the parish sign-up weekends.
  • If the small group does not fill up with the personal invitations, advertise the small group at the parish sign-up weekends labeled “Small Group for Young Married Couples.”

Couples with Young Children

  • Identify couples with young children, and have the Core Team or recruited facilitator call to personally invite them to form a men’s, women’s or couples small group.
  • If they cannot join this small group, invite them to sign up for one of the parish on-site small groups at the parish sign-up weekend.
  • If the small group does not fill up with personal invitations, advertise the small group at the parish sign-up weekends labeled “Small Group for Moms (or Dads or Couples) with Young Children.”

Parents of Children Recently Baptized

  • Get a list from the parish of couples who recently baptized a child, and have the Baptismal Team, Core Team or recruited facilitator call to personally invite them to form a men’s, women’s or couples small group.
  • If they can not join this small group, invite them to join another at the parish sign-up weekend.
  • If the small group does not fill up with personal invitations, advertise the small group at the parish sign-up weekends labeled “Small Group for Moms (or Dads or Couples) with Infants or Toddlers,” or whatever other name is descriptive.

Parents of Second Grade Children Making First Sacraments

  • As noted above, place calls to personally invite parents to the men’s, women’s or couples small group.
  • At the first parent event for first sacraments, provide a speaker (Pastor, Core Team member or recruited facilitator) to announce the ministry. Invite parents to sign up at the meeting, or to take an advertisement / registration form and sign up later.
  • As noted above, if they can not sign up for that small group, invite them to sign-up for a small group at the parish sign-up weekends.
  • If the small group does not fill, advertise it at the parish sign-up weekend labeled “Small Group for Moms (or Dads or Couples) of Second Grade Children.”

Parents of Children Making Confirmation

  • Same approach as parents of children making first sacraments.

Young Singles

  • Same approach as young married couples.

Grandparents

  • Same approach as young married couples.

Parishioners in Senior Living

  • For parishioners who live in a nearby senior living building, recruit and register a facilitator and assist forming a group that can meet on-site at the senior living building.
  • This will allow the parishioners to enjoy this faith building experience without having to go outside and drive in the harsh winter conditions.

7. Small Group Materials

In this Tab 7, we discuss materials used in your parish small group ministry.  The topics covered below are:

The Three Approaches to Small Group Materials

1. Approach #1 – Parish Approved List

  • The parish establishes an approved list of study materials for the upcoming session (fall or winter). Each facilitator is allowed to select from one of the approved materials.  The materials list should include materials geared for men, for women, and for general use.
  • One approach is to say all materials on the FORMED.ORG website, and/or all materials on the Ascension Press website are approved.
  • Another approach is to prepare a specific list of materials.
  • If a facilitator wants to use other materials, they would fill out a “Small Group Materials Request Form” specifying the materials they would like to use. The form should stipulate that materials proposed be faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church, to set expectations in advance.

2. Approach #2 – Sequenced

  • Small group facilitators are requested to start with specified small group materials, and can thereafter select from the parish approved list.
  • This approach can be used to ensure all small group members have a firm foundation in the Catholic faith before delving into more detailed scripture or other faith based studies.
    • For example, the parish may decide that all small groups should start with Bishop Robert Barron’s Catholicism series, or the Augustine Institute’s Symbolon study. Thereafter, the small group may select from materials on the parish approved list.

3. Approach #3 – All Parish Study

  • The Pastor asks all small groups to do the same study during one session. Facilitators can select from the Parish Approved Materials Listing at other sessions.
  • This approach allows the parish to have a common experience and language, and would allow the pastor to reference the materials in his homily or other writings.
    • For example, the parish gives away The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic by Matthew Kelly at Christmas, and the pastor asks all small groups to do that book study in the winter session (early January to spring break). Facilitators would be free to select materials from the parish approved list in the following session.

Selecting Materials for the Upcoming Session

1. Select Approach

  • For the upcoming session, select one of the three approaches above (Parish Approved List, Sequenced or All Parish) or another approach preferred by your parish.
  • Obtain pastor advice and approval.

2. Select Materials

  • Select the materials for the upcoming session.
  • Obtain Pastor approval.
  • For a listing of faithful Catholic small group materials available for small group use, see Tab 19.

3. Prepare Parish Approved Materials List

  • If your parish will take the approach that all materials on the FORMED.ORG website, and/or all materials on the Ascension Press website are approved, then no list is needed.
  • If your parish will create an approved list with specific studies, prepare a Word document listing the approved materials that can be used on your website and for handouts.
  • Include pertinent information such as the study name and provider, number of sessions, a brief description of the study, whether there are lectures on DVDs and the cost.

Purchase and Distribution of Small Group Materials

1. Small Group Member Materials

Members pay for their own materials.

  • Scholarship fund – Your parish may want to establish a small fund for scholarships, which may include supplying materials to senior groups on fixed incomes who can not afford to purchase materials. On your registration forms, your parish may include a statement such as “partial scholarships are available; call [insert number] for a confidential request.”

Material purchase and distribution options are listed below. Approaches may vary by group, depending on the materials involved and facilitator preference.

  • The parish purchases the materials, and the members reimburse the parish. The parish returns any unused materials.  This works well for the “Parish On-site Small Groups.”
  • The facilitator collects the funds from the members, purchases the materials, and distributes the materials at the first session or before. The facilitator should collect the funds in advance, to ensure a small group member does not change plans and fail to pay the facilitator for the materials.
  • The members directly purchase their own materials on-line or at a local Catholic bookstore.

When purchasing materials, consider:

  • Lead time and ease of ordering the materials.
  • Return policy; confirm in advance if the provider takes returns.
  • Minimum orders.
  • Shipping charges.

For the “Parish On-site Small Groups” (small group types #2 & #3 parish school):

  • It is most efficient for the parish to purchase the materials in advance, and charge members when they pick up the materials.
  • Order extra sets of materials and return any unused.
  • Consider charging a little extra to cover out-of-pocket expenses incurred by the parish for small facilitator appreciation gifts, coffee provided and/or stipends for speakers.

2. Lectures Online

  • If your parish will have small groups use the FORMED.ORG website materials and lectures, the parish pays an annual or monthly fee to allow all parishioners access to all of the materials and lectures, or individuals can register and pay a monthly fee.
  • If your parish will have small groups use Ascension Press materials, the small group registers on-line and must purchase at least four sets of member materials from Ascension Press. After that, the registered members are given on line access to lectures for the study they purchased without any further charge.

3. Lectures by DVD or CD

  • If your parish will have small groups using DVDs or CDs for lectures, the small group may purchase them (and then donate them to the parish), or the parish will need funds to purchase them and lend them to the small group.
  • For “Parish On-site Small Groups,” consider using the same materials for all on-site groups (for example, the Tuesday morning, Thursday evening and Saturday morning small group offerings) so the parish has to purchase only one set.
  • Consider establishing a lending library of the popular studies, so the DVDs and CDs can be reused by other small groups in future sessions.
    • Set aside parish funds to purchase studies, or
    • Place a bulletin announcement requesting parishioners donate specific DVDs or CDs needed.
    • Another option is to ask a nearby parish to borrow from their lending library.

8. Ministry Calendar / Communications Plan

In this Tab 8, we discuss preparing an overall ministry calendar, including the following:


General Comments

1. Parish Flexibility on Calendar Dates & Launch Size

The start date for forming a core team and planning the ministry for a fall launch is flexible. A parish may opt to form their core team and start planning as early as February or March, or as late as June or July.

Initially, your parish may start with just a few small groups, or it may start with many – that’s great either way. The key is to get started, and build from there year after year.


2. Review with Pastor and Parish Staff

Review the calendars with your Pastor and parish staff.

Confirm the announcement and sign-up weekends are available for homily messaging and/or pulpit announcements.

Reserve space, as needed.

  • Reserve rooms for on-site small groups (and large group gatherings), providing for A/V equipment needed for DVD lectures.
  • Reserve space for any end of session events.

3. Sample Calendar for a Fall 2016 Launch

For a sample calendar for a fall 2016 launch, see the following spreadsheet: “SG.Ministry.Calendar.2016

Parish Calendar – Elements

  • Fall & Winter Sessions
  • Announcement Weekend
  • Sign-up Weekends
  • End of Session Events

Core Team Calendar – Elements

  • Managing tasks by meeting
  • Date to Send Facilitator Recruitment Letter
  • Dates for Facilitator Planning Meetings
  • Dates for Facilitator Training

Communications Plan Calendar – Elements

  • Website & Electronic Communications updates
  • Launch Weekend
  • Sign-up Weekends
  • Advertising at Parish Events
  • Advertising at Parish School Events (for parishes with a school)

Ministry Plan and Calendar

1. Fall & Winter Sessions

Although small groups can meet at any time of the year, the best time for consistent attendance is a 10-12 week session in the fall, and a 10-12 week session in the winter/early spring.

  • The fall session starts in mid-September and ends in early December.
  • The winter session starts in early January and ends by spring break.
  • Small groups can meet weekly or bi-weekly during the session.

2. Announcement Weekend (Tab 15)

The parish selects one weekend for the pastor to announce and explain the small group ministry at all Masses.

  • Homily messaging is ideal. The pastor can incorporate the value of small groups in his homily and invite parishioners to form their own small group, complete an interested facilitator form and become a facilitator, or simply sign-up for a small group at the parish sign-up weekends. Alternatively, use a pulpit announcement.
  • Provide staffed tables after all Masses with ministry information and sample small group materials.
  • Include the FAQs in the parish bulletin.

The announcement weekend can be in spring or summer

  • Review your parish calendar and the readings for the week to determine a suitable weekend for your parish.
  • Pentecost Sunday is an option that is fitting for the ministry, although any weekend will work.

3. Sign-up Weekends (Tab 16)

Host two sign-up weekends for parishioners to sign-up for small groups.

The best weekends for the fall session are shortly after Labor Day, when families return from the holiday weekend and settle into their school year routine.


4. End of Session Events (Tab 17)

The parish may plan and host end of sessions events as a way to unite the various small groups and provide an opportunity for formation. These events are optional, and can be incorporated in later years as the ministry grows.

Examples include an Advent Morning of Reflection for the end of the Fall session, a Lenten Morning of Reflection for the end of the Winter session, a Man Night and/or a social event.


5. On-site Small Groups – Planning Considerations

When planning parish on-site small groups, review your parish calendar and facilities schedule for other parish events that need to be considered when setting the small group calendar. Examples include parish speakers or retreats, child faith formation events, and/or school events.

Add one week at the end of small group calendars for a make-up session for weather or other cancellations.


Core Team Plan and Calendar

1. Managing Tasks by Meeting

Given the many tasks involved in launching a ministry, it can be easy to let meeting discussions move from one task to another without completing any given task. To efficiently implement your ministry, focus your meeting on one task/Tab (or two). Complete the task/Tab at the meeting, or with immediate follow-up, and then move on to the next task/Tab.

Review the following tasks/Tabs, and set a meeting schedule with associated tasks to be completed at the meeting (or with immediate follow-up):

  • Tabs 3, 4, 5 and 6: General structure and types of small groups
  • Tab 7: Small Group Materials
  • Tab 8: Parish Ministry Calendar
  • Tab 10: FAQs
  • Tab 11: Recruiting and registering facilitators
  • Tab 12: Preparing for Facilitator Small Group Planning meetings
  • Tab 13: Preparing for Facilitator Training
  • Tab 15: Preparing for Announcement Weekend
  • Tab 16: Preparing for Sign-up Weekends

2. Other key dates / timeframes to consider

  • Date to send facilitator recruitment letter
  • Dates / timeframe to meet with facilitators to plan their small group
  • Dates / timeframe to train facilitators

Communications Plan and Calendar

1. Website & Electronic Communications

  • Ministry information, updated periodically, along with FAQs on site
  • On-line registration

2. Announcement Weekend

  • Homily or pulpit announcement
  • Testimonial after Mass
  • Information table after Mass
  • Bulletin announcement. For sample bulletin texts, see the following document: “SG.Ministry.Bulletin.2016
  • Bulletin stuffer (FAQs)
  • FAQs or other information left at the front desk of parish, or elsewhere
  • Signage at parish (posters)

3. Sign-up Weekend

  • Homily or pulpit announcement
  • Testimonial after Mass
  • Sign-up tables
  • Bulletin announcement. For sample bulletin texts, see the following document: “SG.Ministry.Bulletin.2016.”

4. Advertising at Parish Events

  • Review parish calendar for other parish events where the ministry could be advertised

5. Parishes with a parish school

If your parish is hosting a “Parish On-site Small Group – Parish School Parents,” (see Tab 5) prepare a separate communications plan to reach and invite the parents of the school children.

Opportunities to advertise will vary by parish school. Some ideas include:

  • Recruit one parent in each grade to be a grade captain who will call or otherwise personally invite every parent in that grade.
  • Prepare an advertisement / registration form for the study. For an example, see the following document: “SG.Adv.Reg.parishonsite.2016
  • Have a staffed table with the advertisement/registration form at all school functions – curriculum night, back to school night, or any other gatherings of school parents
  • Advertise in the school announcements.
  • Send the advertisement / registration form home in kids’ backpacks.
  • Ask the school to speak at any parent functions, where appropriate.

6. Invitations to Form “Common Interest and Bonds Small Groups”

If your parish is attempting to form any “common interest and bonds” small groups, advertising for these small groups is focused on identifying prospective small group members and making personal invitations. Invitation ideas are contained in Tab 6 for the following groups:

  • Young married couples
  • Couples with young children
  • Parents of children recently baptized
  • Parents of second grade children making first sacraments
  • Parents of children making confirmation
  • Young singles
  • Grandparents
  • Parishioners living in senior living

9. Tracking Report and Binder

In this Tab 9, we provide an administratively easy way to organize and manage your parish small group ministry by using the following two items:


Tracking Report in Microsoft Excel

1. Managing your ministry 

A parish can efficiently manage the small group ministry using a tracking report in Microsoft Excel. It captures the pertinent data needed, and allows for an “at-a-glance” review to identify completed and outstanding items.

For a blank tracking report that can be downloaded and completed for your parish, see the following spreadsheet: SG.Tracking.2016


2. Format and Data of Tracking Report

  • Number each small group consecutively in the left column of the tracking report.
  • The first page contains the following information:
    • Facilitator name
    • Study materials
    • Group type (men’s, women’s or couples)
    • Meeting date/time/location
    • Start date and end date
    • Facilitator planning meeting date, where applicable (input date to confirm completed)
    • Facilitator training (input date to confirm this was completed)
    • Safety forms – input “Yes” to confirm received and filed in the 3-ring binder
  • The second page contains phone and email contact information for the facilitator and (if applicable) the back-up facilitator.
  • To manage the different tasks involved in the ministry, update the tracking report for the small group after each one of these events:
    • The planning meeting (input date of the meeting in report)
    • The training session (input date of training), and
    • Receipt and filing of the papers needed for each small group (see 3-ring binder below).

3-Ring Binder

1. Organization / Filing

  • Purchase a 3-ring binder, and a set of numbered tabs for the binder.
  • Using the number assigned to the small group in the tracking report, file the papers needed for each small group under the corresponding numbered tab.

2. Papers needed for each small group

  • Completed member contact form (gives easy reference for all members in the ministry).
  • Copy of the signed Parish and Archdiocese facilitator form (for each facilitator).
  • Copy of the signed Parish and Archdiocese member form (for each member whose small group meets off-site).

10. FAQs

In this Tab 10, we discuss FAQs for the ministry, and FAQs for parishioners interested in registering to become a facilitator.


FAQs – Purpose and Function

FAQs provide a quick and easy reference for people to learn about the ministry, and decide if they want to join a small group.

FAQs provide the vision and terminology used consistently for all ministry communications.

FAQs can be used in a variety of settings – as a bulletin stuffer, at the front desk of the parish, and as a resource for language used in bulletin announcements and websites.


Ministry FAQs

Prepare FAQs for your parish ministry.

For sample ministry FAQs, see the following document: SG.Ministry.FAQs.2016

Elements included are:

  • What are small groups and how do they work?
  • Why should I join a small group?
  • I want to be a facilitator – when and how do I register? How do I organize and plan my small group?
  • I want to be part of a small group – when and how do I sign-up?
  • What is the 2016 calendar for small groups?
  • Can I sign up for a small group online?

Facilitator FAQs

Prepare facilitator FAQs for your parish.

For sample facilitator FAQs, see the following document: “SG.Facilitator.FAQs.2016” 

Elements included are:

  • How do I register to be a small group facilitator?
  • I want to “Start My Own Small Group,” how do I plan it and invite others?
  • I want to plan and facilitate a small group (“Facilitator Planned Small Group”) and have it advertised at the parish sign-up weekends, how do I register?
  • I want to facilitate a “Parish on-site small group,” how do I register?
  • How will I be trained and supported through the session?

Facilitators

11. Recruit and Register

In this Tab 11, we discuss recruiting and registering facilitators for the various forms of small groups in your parish ministry. Sections below include:


 

“Interested Facilitator Form” and Approval Process

1. Interested Facilitator Form

Persons interested in being a small group facilitator should be invited to complete an “Interested Facilitator Form.”

Prepare the “Interested Facilitator Form” for your parish.

  • For a sample form, see the following document: SG.Interested.Facilitator.2016
  • Add the form to the parish website, and have copies at the front desk, along with the FAQs.

2. Facilitator Approval Standards for Small Group Type #1 – “Start Your Own Small Group”

As a core team, discuss the facilitator approval standards for the “Start Your Own Small Group Facilitators.”

Given these facilitators will be inviting their friends, neighbors or coworkers, and will not be taking parish assigned small group members, your parish may opt for a less rigorous approval standard.

An example approach would be to meet with the interested facilitator, explain how the parish ministry works under the authority of the pastor, and confirm they are agreeable to the process.

They would agree to:

  • Meet with the coordinator to select materials and plan their small group,
  • Attend facilitator training,
  • Complete and return the required forms, and
  • Keep in touch with the coordinator throughout the session.
  • Based on that meeting, the coordinator / core team decides whether to approve the person as a facilitator.

3. Facilitator Approval Standards for Small Group Types #2-5

As a core team, discuss the approval standards for all of the other types of small groups:

  • Types #2 & 3 – Parish on-site small groups
  • Type #4 – Common interest and bonds small groups
  • Type #5 – Facilitator planned small groups

Given these facilitators will be assigned small group members from the parish (at sign-up weekends or otherwise), they will be in a leadership role at your parish. Your core team may opt for a higher approval standard in these cases.

An example approach would be to meet with the person to review the process (same as Type #1 noted above), but then to also invite and approve only people who:

  • Are known to your pastor, staff or core team,
  • Have experience facilitating small groups at your parish in the past, or
  • Are recommended by an approved facilitator or another trusted parishioner.

4. Pastor review and approval

Review the names of facilitators with your pastor.


Facilitator Expectations

1. Expectations

As a core team, discuss the facilitator expectations for your parish ministry.


2. Sample Form

Prepare a facilitator expectation form, that can be reviewed with the facilitator.

Expectations include being prayerful, faithful to the Church, prepared for the small group meetings, joyful and hospitable.


Identify, Invite and Recruit Small Group Facilitators

1. Planning

Start early to identify, invite and recruit facilitators.

For your first launch/session, it will be harder to estimate the number of registrants and the associated number of facilitators needed.

  • Make your best estimate of the number of small groups based on past parish experience and knowledge.
  • Plan two facilitators for each group – the primary facilitator and a back-up facilitator.
  • If you have more small groups than expected, you can assign back-up facilitators to facilitate their own small group.
  • If you have less than expected, you can have more than one back-up facilitator in a small group, and they can be on stand-by as the ministry grows session after session.

2. Identify Possible Small Group Facilitators

As a core team, brainstorm possible parishioners to invite to become facilitators.

In addition to parishioners who complete the “Interested Facilitator” form, consider:

  • Parishioners who the pastor recommends. Ask the Pastor to think about possible small group facilitators as he greets parishioners leaving Mass the next weekend.
  • Parishioners who the core team or parish staff know and would recommend,
  • Catechetical Institute graduates at your parish,
  • Parishioners who have facilitated small groups in the past at your parish,
  • Parishioners who have taken leadership roles in the parish (past or present) – faith formation teachers, school teachers if your parish has a school, members of the various counsels, etc.
  • Parishioners who take an hour of Adoration each week at your parish,
  • If your parish has existing small groups, talk with the facilitators to get their recommendations for members who are ready to become facilitators, and
  • Review the parish directory to trigger names. Think of people who could facilitate the Type #4 “Common Interest and Bonds” small groups (young married couples, couples with young children, parents of children recently baptized, parents of 2nd grade students in first sacraments, parents of confirmation students, young singles, or grandparents).

3. Extend Invitations

At the announcement weekend, invite people interested in being a small group facilitator to complete an “Interested Facilitator Form.”

In addition, invite parishioners from the list you identified.

  • A personal invitation is the most effective. Review the list to see if the pastor, a core team member or another parishioner know the person and could make a personal invitation, either by call or in person. Ask your pastor to personally invite people as he sees them after Mass.
  • Send a letter or email to invite the parishioner the Monday before Announcement weekend, and place a follow up call the following week. For a sample invite letter, see the following document: “SG.Facilitator.Invite.2016

12. Facilitator Small Group Planning

Once facilitators have been approved, the small group coordinator meets with each facilitator (one on one, or in a group) to plan their small group.In this Tab 12, we discuss the preparations needed for these small group facilitator planning meetings, including:


Meeting Approach and Timeframe

1. Meeting Approach

Based on the types and number of small groups, schedule facilitator planning meetings either one on one or in groups. The small group coordinator may conduct these meetings alone, although the DRE and/or other core team members can be involved as needed or desired.

“Start Your Own Small Group” (type #1), “Common Interest and Bonds Small Groups” (type #4) and “Facilitator Planned Small Groups” (type #5)

  • One on one meetings work best for these groups, as they will likely vary in material selections, meeting locations, and start dates.
  • You may also need to prepare an Information and Registration form tailored for each group.
  • Plan on 1 to 1 ½ hours for these meetings.

“Parish On-site Small Groups” (types #2 & 3)

  • Because the parish does the primary planning, the planning meeting with the facilitator can be much shorter (or even by phone, in some cases), as it will simply be a review of the calendar, materials, expectations and required forms.

2. Timeframe

Plan to meet with facilitators as soon as practicable, so that invitations can be extended. Consider the overall ministry calendar established in Tab 8.


Prepare the Facilitator Planning Meeting Agenda and Documents

1. Sample Meeting Handout / Packet

Below is a sample packet:

Review the sample documents and use them as is, or revise them as needed for your parish.


2. Parish and Archdiocese Safety & Insurance Forms

Archdiocese Policy

  • Because small groups are meeting on and off site as a parish ministry, Archdiocese safety and insurance consideration must be given.
  • Review the attached Archdiocese policy relating to Parish Small Group Ministries. See the following document: SG.Safety.Policy.2016

Given the Archdiocese policy, prepare a facilitator and small group member form for your parish. Below are examples:

  • Parish and Archdiocese safety and insurance form – facilitator copy. See the following document: SG.Safety.Forms.2016
  • Parish and Archdiocese safety and insurance form – member copy. See the following document: SG.Safety.Forms.2016

Signed Documents

  • For all small groups (whether they meet on or off site), the facilitator must sign the facilitator copy.
  • For all small groups that meet off site, all small group members must sign the member copy.

Filing & Tracking

  • File copies of the signed documents in the 3-ring Ministry binder (see Tab 9) under the tab for that small group.
  • Update the Tracking Report to indicate these documents have been signed and filed.

13. Facilitator Training

Shortly before small groups begin, the small group coordinator (or other core team member) meets with the facilitator to provide facilitator training. In this Tab 13, we discuss the preparations for these training sessions and provide sample training materials the parish can use. Information below includes:


Approach and Schedule for Facilitator Training Meetings

1. Format for Training Meeting – Individual or Group

Given the different types of small groups formed at your parish, schedule facilitator training meetings in the way you feel best.

You could meet one on one with facilitators, or schedule group meetings, or a combination of both.


2. Conducting the Training Meeting

The small group coordinator may conduct these meetings alone, or with other core team members.

For group training, it is helpful to have a second or third core team member at the meeting to listen and provide additional commentary during the discussion.


3. Dates for Training Meeting

Given many people are out of town and busy with family gatherings over the summer, consider training dates in early September, shortly before small groups begin.

The training material will then be fresh in the facilitator’s mind as they start their small group, and it will give the coordinator a chance to connect with the facilitator in person shortly before they begin and answer any questions that arise.


4. Length of Training Meeting

For group training, estimate 1 to 2 hours (depending on the size of the group).

For individual training, estimate one hour (less if the facilitator is experienced).


5. Follow-up and Reinforcement

There is a lot of information for the facilitator to take in at a training meeting.

  • To ease any concerns, let the facilitator know that you and the parish are an ongoing resource throughout the session, and to call or email with any questions. Let them know that you will call them after their first session to answer any questions that arise, and that you will periodically touch base throughout the session.
  • Provide your contact information to the facilitator, and provide the parish, DRE and coordinator contact information on all training materials.

As follow-up, recommend facilitators listen to Dr. Tim Gray’s talk on “How to Facilitate a Small Group” (available for free at Ascensionpress.com) after the training session, to reinforce what is discussed during the session.

  • Provide the link at Ascension Press: https://ascensionpress.com/pages/the-great-adventure or simply search online for: “Dr. Tim Gray How to Facilitate a Small Group”
  • For those who cannot listen online or want to listen in their car, provide a CD of the talk.

After the meeting, update the tracking report. Add the training date for that small group/facilitator in the column under “Facilitator Meetings – Training,” to confirm training has been completed.


Preparations for Facilitator Training Meetings

1. Review Sample Training Materials Provided (5 Packets)

  • Packet A: Preparing for your Small Group
  • Packet B: Sample Small Group Documents
  • Packet C: Facilitating a Small Group Discussion
  • Packet D: How to Build a Balanced and Healthy Small Group
  • Packet E: Archdiocese and Parish Insurance and Safety Forms

To receive more information or to schedule a training, contact Jean Stolpestad at stolpestadj@archspm.org.


2. Prepare your Parish Training Materials

Finalize the text of the training materials. Your parish may use these sample documents as is, or revise them as needed.

Complete the open items, such as parish name and address, contact person and information, and other open items in the sample documents provided.

Letterhead

  • A generic letterhead (flame) has been provided on the documents attached.
  • If possible, create a small group ministry letterhead for your parish, and use it on all your ministry documents. Include the ministry year (example, “2016-2017”) in your letterhead, for ease of reference in future years.

Materials for Facilitator Training Materials – 5 Packets

1. Packet A: Preparing for Your Small Group (See the following document: “SG.Facilitator.Training.A.2016”)

  • Facilitator Expectations
  • Ideas for Inviting Members
  • Member Information and Calls
  • Small Group Materials and Location

2. Packet B: Sample Small Group Documents (“SG.Facilitator.Training.B.2016”)

  • Sample First Day Agenda
  • Sample Calendar
  • Sample Small Group Guidelines
  • Sample Group Prayers
  • Sample Member Contact Sheet
  • Sample Attendance Form

3. Packet C: Facilitating a Small Group Discussion (“SG.Facilitator.Training.C.2016”)

  • Opening with Prayer & Petitions
  • The Role of the Facilitator
    • What a facilitator is and is not
    • The three skills – Trail guide, traffic cop and cheerleader
    • Applying these three skills to different personality types

4. Packet D: How to Build a Balanced and Healthy Small Group (SG.Facilitator.Training.D.2016”)

  • Fostering Growth in the 4 Signs of a Dynamic Catholic
    • Prayer
    • Continuous Learning
    • Generosity
    • Evangelization
  • Building Community and Fellowship
  • Building Accountability and Life Transformation into the Study
  • Integrating your Small Group into the Life of the Parish

5. Packet E: Archdiocesan and Parish Insurance and Safety Forms (“SG.Facilitator.Training.E.2016”)

  • Facilitator Form (signed by all small group facilitators)
  • Member Form (signed by members who meet off-site)

 

14. Ongoing Support

After the small groups have begun meeting, provide on-going support to facilitators individually, as well as periodic communications to all facilitators as a group, to assist them in their ministry work.In this Tab 14, we discuss the following:


Ongoing Support to Facilitators Individually

1. Purpose

After your facilitators have had training, and their small groups begin, provide on-going support to facilitators to encourage and thank them, as well as provide ideas and problem solving.


2. Call or meet after first small group meeting

Shortly after the first or second small group meeting, connect with the facilitator to hear how their first session (or sessions) have gone. It is important to call or meet with the facilitator, so you can hear their voice to get a good sense if there are any issues with the group dynamic.

Reading the small group guidelines during the introductory session keeps members focused and will typically preempt difficulties in small group dynamics. On occasion, however, a small group member will cause difficulties with the group dynamics.

When this occurs, the facilitator may be hesitant to tell you, as they do not want to sound like they are complaining or criticizing. Speak to the facilitator in person or by phone so you can hear the tone of their voice and response. Ask open ended questions such as, “How are the members interacting?” “Is everyone comfortable contributing to the discussion?” “Do you have any concerns?” “Can I help you with anything?” If there are difficulties, problem solve with the facilitator to resolve the situation. Involve several core team members in the problem solving, if necessary.


3. Touch base periodically throughout the session

After the initial call or meeting, periodically touch base with the facilitator throughout the session based on their preferred mode of communication (email, text or phone). Communicate as needed, and at least monthly.


4. Required forms

Remind facilitators to send you their completed member list, and Archdiocese and parish safety forms.

File them in the ministry 3-ring binder, and update the tracking report to indicate they have been received and filed.


Periodic Communications to All Facilitators

1. Weekly or Periodic Updates

If possible, send weekly or periodic updates to all facilitators as a group. Include any administrative updates plus other topics to educate, motivate and inspire them. Ideas include:

  • A note of thanks or encouragement,
  • An inspirational scripture verse or story,
  • A testimony from a small group member,
  • A Catholic website, podcast or app that could build up their faith life, and/or
  • Ideas for building a balanced and healthy small group, focusing on one of the four areas each week:
    • Fostering growth in the four signs of a dynamic catholic,
    • Building community and fellowship,
    • Building accountability and life transformation, and
    • Integrating small groups into the life of the parish.

Ideas are provided in the facilitator training materials, and included below for ease of reference.


2. Ideas for Fostering Growth in the 4 Signs of a Dynamic Catholic

Prayer

  • Select an accountability partner in your small group for daily prayer.
  • Ask members for ideas that have worked for them to build prayer into their daily routine.
  • Give a copy of WRAP (a book on prayer from the Institute of Priestly Formation) on how to pray, and encourage members to use a prayer journal.
  • Give members a copy of the Magnificat, and tell them how they can subscribe and get the app.
  • Pick one weekend where the small group couples and families sit together at Mass, and go out to eat or socialize after.
  • After a few meetings, ask for volunteers to lead the opening prayer.

Continuous Learning

  • Advise of faith building opportunities and events in the Archdiocese, and other resources on the Archdiocese website (archspm.org).
  • Tell members about faithful Catholic media, such as Relevant Radio and EWTN.

Generosity

  • Ask the parish staff, school and parish committees for a list of volunteer opportunities for small groups.
  • Provide the list to facilitators and ask them to discuss it among their members and prayerfully consider volunteering as a group at the parish once in the fall and winter sessions. This is a great way to connect small groups back into the life of the parish.
  • Provide all information necessary to make the sign-up process easy (i.e., a description of the task, time frame and hours, along with the contact information and method of signup).
  • Volunteer as a small group in the community. Ask members to suggest a cause that is meaningful to them, and discuss it as a group.

Evangelization

  • Ask members to pray about who the Lord has brought into their life to invite into the small group, or to share the joy of their faith.
  • Prepare a short personal witness.

3. Ideas for Building Community and Fellowship

Engage your small group members in the administration of the small group.

Ask for a volunteer to prepare a hospitality signup sheet and route it.

Ask for a volunteer to plan a social activity for the group during the session.

Ask for a volunteer to oversee the small groups’ volunteer work in the parish or community.

4. Ideas for Building Accountability and Life Transformation into the Study

At the end of each meeting, ask members to think about one concrete thing they will do in the upcoming week to live out the lesson they learned that week.

  • Allow some quiet time for members to write down their idea.
  • Remind members that evangelization starts in the family, and to think about family or relatives that may need encouragement or help.

Examples include:

  • Invite a friend or family member to lunch who is struggling.
  • Call or send a friend or family member a card.
  • Pray especially for someone, or offer an hour of Adoration.
  • Run an errand or prepare a meal for a housebound or ill friend or family member.

5. Volunteer Opportunities and other ideas to integrate the Small Group into the Life of the Parish

As noted above, the parish should route a listing of volunteering opportunities at the parish for small groups to do together.

Implementation

15. Announcement Weekend

At the announcement weekend, your pastor will announce and explain the new parish small group ministry, and invite parishioners to consider forming their own small group, facilitating one, or signing up for one.In this Tab 15, we discuss the tasks involved to prepare for announcement weekend, including the following:


Communications Plan

1. Homily Messaging

When planning your announcement weekend, select a weekend where the Sunday readings relate to the small group ministry (relationships, community, spiritual growth, etc.).

If possible, the Pastor should incorporate the small group ministry into his homily. He can briefly explain the ministry, expound on the value of small groups, and invite parishioners to consider forming their own small group, facilitating one, or signing up for one.

Meet with your pastor to discuss the homily and messaging. For homily messaging ideas, see the following document: SG.Announcement.Homily.2016


2. Pulpit Announcement

Prepare a pulpit announcement inviting people to visit the information tables after Mass, and asking them to look at the FAQs included in the bulletin (if applicable).

If the Pastor does not incorporate small groups into the homily, prepare a more comprehensive pulpit announcement and/or a short testimony.

For sample pulpit announcement text, see the following document: SG.Ministry.Bulletin.2016


3. Bulletin Stuffer

Add the FAQs as a bulletin stuffer, or add an announcement in the bulletin.

For sample bulletin announcement text, see Word document below titled SG.Ministry.Bulletin.2016.”


4. Website

Prepare to have the website live for announcement weekend. If possible, have a banner on the website to announcement the ministry and a visible link to information and materials.


5. Parish Electronic Communication Tools

Announce the ministry using your parish electronic communication tools.


6. Communications Plan Leading up to Sign-up Weekends

Review the weeks leading up to the sign-up weekends, and prepare your communications plan. Consider:

  • Bulletin announcements,
  • Pulpit announcements shortly before and/or during sign-up weekends, and / or
  • A personal testimony shortly before or during sign-up weekends.

Personal Testimony

  • A personal testimony is a powerful and moving means of communicating the value of small groups. Consider incorporating a testimony at least one time in your communications plan. Shortly before or during sign-up weekends is ideal.
  • Select a person who is comfortable speaking at the podium, is relatable, and can speak from the heart about the value of their small group experience. Review and approve the content, and the length, with the speaker prior to the testimony.

Information Tables after Mass

1. Preparing for the Tables

Tables in the Narthex after Mass

  • Arrange for setup and take down of tables in the narthex.
  • Have one table for men’s small groups, one for women’s, and one for couples.
  • Place the tables physically apart from each other in the narthex to allow for clear signage and space for people to move.

Signage

  • Prepare signage in advance.
  • Consider having a “Small Group Ministry” sign made for the area, and clear signage for each of the tables (men’s, women’s, and couples).

Materials at the Tables

  • Prepare the materials for the table in advance, including copies of the facilitator and ministry FAQs, materials listing and interested facilitator forms. If possible, have sample small group materials at the table for parishioners to review. Have pens available at all tables for notes.

2. Directing People After Mass

Recruit a handful of people to greet parishioners as they leave Mass and invite them to the information tables.

Ask your Pastor to invite people to the information tables as he greets them after Mass.


3. Staffing Tables

Confirm small group ministry representatives to staff the tables after every Mass.


Parish Staff Communication

1. Prepare parish staff for the announcement weekend

Inform receptionists and parish staff about the small group ministry, so they are able to respond to questions.

Review the FAQs with them, and have copies at the front desk.

Review the Interested Facilitator form with them and let them know where to route any forms that are received.

If there are any on-site study information and registration forms ready, include those as well.

16. Sign-up Weekend

Sign-up weekends are an exciting, busy and critical time in the launch of the small group ministry.

In this Tab 16, we discuss the tasks involved to prepare. Topics below include:


Communications Plan for Sign-up Weekends

1. Prepare/review your Communications Plan

Homily Message

  • If your pastor will incorporate the small group ministry into his homily, meet with him to answer any questions and coordinate administrative matters included in the homily.
  • For homily messaging ideas, see the following document: SG.Announcement.Homily.2016

Pulpit Announcement

  • Prepare a pulpit announcement to invite parishioners to visit the sign-up tables after Mass and sign-up for a small group.
  • For sample pulpit announcement text, see the following document: SG.Ministry.Bulletin.2016

Personal Testimony

  • A personal testimony is a powerful and moving means of communicating the value of small groups. The weekend before sign-ups, or the first weekend of sign-ups, is an ideal time to incorporate a personal testimony after Mass.
  • Select a person who is comfortable speaking at the podium, is relatable, and can speak from the heart about the value of their small group experience. Review and approve the content, and the length, with the speaker prior to the testimony.

Bulletin, Website and Other Parish Communications

  • Prepare a bulletin announcement advertising the ministry. For sample bulletin text, see the following document: SG.Ministry.Bulletin.2016
  • Update the website for matters relating to the sign-up weekends.
  • Advertise small groups in parish electronic communications.

Online or Paper Registration

1. Decide if your parish will offer paper registrations only, or also online registrations

If you offer only paper registration after Masses or only on-line registrations, you will know when a small group is full.

If you offer both paper and on-line registrations, consider how you will coordinate the two so you will know when a small group is full and to start a wait list.


2. Wait Lists

Consider how you will handle a wait list for a small group.

If there are enough people, start a second group. Or, invite the person on the wait list to join an existing small group.


Sign-up Forms and Takeaway Packet

1. Sign-up Forms for each Small Group

Prepare a sign-up form for each small group to be used at the registration table during signup weekends.

  • Include a header with the parish name, session/year, type of small group (women’s, men’s or couples), materials, day/time/location of meetings, and start date.
  • Where applicable, include the facilitator’s name and a description of the small group (i.e., for facilitator planned small groups, and for those common interest and bonds small groups which are not already filled and can include more members).
  • For an example form, see the following document: SG.Signup.Form.2016

2. Takeaway Packet (Ministry Information and Registration Forms)

Some parishioners will sign-up for a small group after Mass at sign-up weekends. Others will want to take home information and think about it.

For parishioners who want to think about it, prepare a take-away packet for women’s small groups, men’s small groups and couples. Include a cover page and registration form.

For a sample packet, see the following document: SG.Signup.Packet.2016

  • The cover page contains:
    • Directions for how to register for a small group,
    • A note about how small group assignments are made (in case groups are full), and
    • Contact information for questions.
  • The registration form contains:
    • Request for member information,
    • On-site Small group options, with a box to select (small group types 2 & 3), and
    • Facilitator planned small group options, with a box to select (small group type #5).

Signup Tables After Masses

1. Tables in the Narthex after Mass

Arrange for setup and take down of tables in the narthex.

Consider one table for men’s small groups, one for women’s, and one for couples

Place them physically apart from each other to allow for clear signage and space for people to move.


2. Signage

Prepare signage in advance.

Consider having a “Small Group Ministry” sign made for the area, and clear signage for each table (men’s small groups, women’s small groups, couples small groups).


3. Materials at the Tables

Prepare materials for the tables in advance, including:

  • Small group sign-up forms for each small group,
  • Ministry information and registration (takeaway) packets,
  • Copies of the FAQs,
  • Copies of the Interested Facilitator forms (if more facilitators are needed), and
  • If possible, sample small group materials, and
  • Pens.

To assist with managing the paperwork afterward, use different color paper for the types of forms. For example, copy the women’s ministry forms on pink paper, the men’s ministry forms on blue paper, and the couples on white paper.


4. Directing and Inviting People After Mass

Have a handful of people assigned after each Mass to greet parishioners as they leave Mass and invite and direct them to the signup tables.

Ask your Pastor to invite people to the sign-up tables as he greets them after Mass.


5. Staffing Tables

Confirm small group ministry representatives to staff the tables after every Mass.


Cut off Date for Forming Small Groups

1. Cut off Date for Forming Small Groups

Set a cut-off date for small group registrations for purposes of forming small groups. The Sunday of the second weekend of sign-ups is a good date, to allow for the communication and start-ups of small groups in late September.


2. Late Registration Policy

Once small groups are formed, you may take late registrations and assign them to an existing group (where available).


Prepare for the Unexpected

1. Discuss and Plan

Discuss and plan what you will do if you get more or less people registered for small groups than expected.

If you get more than expected, you may need to find additional facilitators.

If you get less than expected, you may need to think of ways to invite others and start a group or two later in the session, or make adjustments for the next session. The key thing is to get started, even if you start with just one small group, and grow the ministry from there.

17. End of Session Events

In this Tab 17, we discuss parish hosted events for small group members. These events are typically hosted at or toward the end of the session, to gather together small group members for socializing and/or spiritual formation.

Topics discussed below include:


1. Types of Group Events

Parish hosted events gathering together some or all of the small group members is a great way to build up your parish community and celebrate the work of the small groups. Based on the make-up of small groups at your parish, decide if your parish will host one or more group events.

Events are flexible – they can be entirely social and/or contain a spiritual formation component, be on-site or off-site, be for men or women only or all group members.

Examples include an Advent Morning of Reflection at the end of the fall session, and/or Lenten Morning of Reflection at the end of the winter session, a men’s night out or a summer barbeque.


2. Timing of Events

Events held at or toward the end of the session is a great way to celebrate the work of the small group that session, although events can be held at other times of the year.


3. Example – Advent Morning of Reflection

Below are example documents for an Advent Morning of Reflection.

Advertising / Invitation Form

  • This form can be given out in in advance to invite small group members to the reflection.
  • Provide extra copies for small group members to give to friends and family. This is a nice way to introduce others to the small group ministry, and let them see the value of joining a small group.
  • See the following document: SG.Advent.Reflect.Invite.2016

Agenda / Handout at the event

This form is handed out to people as they arrive at the event (which may start or end with Mass).

Spiritual Bouquet for the speaker – request for prayer donations

  • If desired, collect prayer offerings from small group members as a gift to the speaker.
  • Attached is a form for people to sign up for the prayers they would like to offer, along with an explanation of how spiritual bouquets work (for those who may not be familiar with them).
  • See the following document: SG.Advent.Reflect.Bouquet.Signup.2016

Spiritual Bouquet for the speaker – bouquet enclosure

18. Wrap up and Next Session

In this Tab 18, we discuss actions to wrap up the current session and prepare for the next session. Topics discussed below include:


1. Gathering Feedback from Facilitators

Toward the end of the session, call or meet with each facilitator to discuss the session and gather feedback to grow and improve the ministry.

  • Consider using an electronic or hard copy survey to gather feedback from all facilitators.
  • Request feedback on matters that are important to your parish ministry. Topics vary, and can include feedback on parish training and support of facilitators, materials, parish communications, and/or ideas to grow the ministry.

For an example survey, see the following document: SG.Survey.Facilitator.2016


2. Gathering Feedback from Small Group Members

Decide if you will request feedback from small group members by survey or otherwise.

Request feedback on matters that are important to your parish ministry. Topics include: whether members felt the small group experience improved their prayer life, made them feel more connected to the parish, provided encouragement and support in their faith, provided support in their parenting or state in life, was a fun way to spend time with friends and meet new people and/or would recommend others to join a parish small group.

Information gathered from this survey can help advertise the small group ministry to the parish. For example, depending on the survey results, the parish may be able to advertise that more than XX% of the participants experienced an improvement in their prayer life, felt more connected to the parish, was encouraged in their faith journey and/or would recommend others to join a parish small group.

For an example survey, see the following document: SG.Survey.Member.2016


3. Preparing Existing Groups to Continue on to the Next Session

A month or two before the end of the session, communicate with each facilitator to encourage them to continue their small group into the next session, and provide needed support.

For those continuing, plan the next session together (see Tab 12).


4. Thanking Facilitators

In your ongoing communications with facilitators throughout the session, you will be thanking them for their leadership and work.

At the end of the session, consider a more formal thank you. Ideas vary, and can include a small gift, a call or other personal thank you from the Pastor, and/or a thank you card from the small group coordinator with an enclosure that the Pastor will offer a Mass for the intentions of facilitators on a certain date.


5. Sign-Up Weekends for the Next Session

Decide if your parish will encourage more small groups during the next session to grow the ministry, or simply support the existing small groups.

Plan for the next session – See Tab 8 (Ministry Calendar and Advertising) and Tab 16 (Sign-up Weekend).

19. Resources

Listed below are small group resources and materials.  Topics include:


Archdiocese Contact Information

1. Archdiocese Website

2. Office of Marriage, Family and Life

3. Office of Evangelization and Catechesis


Small Group Materials

1. Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis


2. Ascension Press

  • Bible Studies: The Great Adventure Bible Timeline, The Great Adventure Foundational Series, A Biblical Walk Through the Mass, Mary A Biblical Walk with the Blessed Mother, Matthew, Ephesians, Acts, James, Revelation, The Prophets, First Corinthians, Galatians
  • Adult Faith Formation: Epic A Journey Through Church History, Oremus, Theology of the Body, Pillar Series, The Catholic Divorce Survival Guide
  • Teen Faith Formation: Chosen; Your Journey Toward Confirmation, T3: The Teen Timeline, Encounter

3. Dynamic Catholic (Matthew Kelly)

  • Don’t Give Up Chocolate for Lent, Everyone Needs to FORGIVE Somebody, Resisting Happiness, Rediscover Catholicism, Rediscover Jesus, Living Everyday with Passion and Purpose

4. FORMED.ORG (Augustine Institute)

  • Partners include: Lighthouse Catholic Media, Ignatius Press, St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, Word on Fire (Father Robert Barron)
  • Exploring the Catholic faith: Symbolon, Catholicism, Footprints of God
  • Bible Studies: Evangelizing, Eucharist, Peter, Prayer, The Bible and the Virgin Mary
  • Sacramental Preparation: Beloved, Reborn, Forgiven, Confirmation
  • Hearts Afire Based Programs
  • YDisciple small groups

5. Saint Paul Center (Scott Hahn)

  • Journey Through Scripture: Genesis to Jesus, The Bible and the Mass, The Bible and the Sacraments, The Bible and the Virgin Mary, The Bible and Church Fathers, The Bible and Prayer.)
  • Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture
  • Ignatius Catholic Study Bible

6. Word on Fire (Bishop Robert Barron)

  • Catholicism, Conversion, Mystery of God, Eucharist, 7 Deadly Sins and 7 Lively Virtues, Untold Blessing, Priest, Prophet and King, Mystery of God

7. Hearts Afire Parish Based Programs (Father Michael Gaitley)

  • 33 Days to Morning Glory, Consoling the Heart of Jesus, Wisdom and Works of Mercy, 33 Days to Merciful Love

8. Steve Ray (Footprints of God)

  • DVD series on topics; Jesus, Mary, Peter, the Apostolic Fathers, Abraham, Paul, Moses, David & Solomon, The Bible Stories: Kings and Prophets with accompany study guides

9. Catherine of Siena Institute

  • Forming Intentional Disciples, Called & Gifted

10. For Men

  • Signposts: How To Be A Catholic Man In The World (Bill Bawden): wau.org
  • Be a Man (Father Richards): ignatius.com
  • The Catholic Briefcase: Tools for Integrating Faith and Work (Randy Hain):  liguori.org
  • Journey to Heaven: A Road map for Catholic Men (Randy Hain):  emmausroad.org
  • Man Up! Becoming the New Catholic Renaissance Man (Jared Zimmerer):  amazon.com
  • Joseph’s Way: The Call to Fatherly Greatness (Devin Schadt’s): ignatius.com

11. For Women


12. For Couples


13. Parenting


14. Marriage


15. Mass Readings


16. Catholic Bookstores


17. Catholic Radio


18. Other Website Resources