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Small Group Ministries

The primary way of using Small Group Ministry is engaging people in community for enhancement of spiritual journey through ministry in a group. As members of a congregation become involved with Small Group Ministry through these ongoing groups, the process inherent in these groups can be expanded in some of the ways described here. Indeed, the Sessions section of this site gives resources for many of these expanding uses of the Small Group Ministry as a process.

One of the evolving dynamics is focusing Small Group Ministry. This means that the session was developed with a specific focus, as noted in the Directory and described here. However, session plans can be used by any group, and groups should consider using any of the session plans listed.

General focus applies to topics that are of interest in the ongoing groups. These topics include a range of spiritual and life issues, as well as celebrations throughout the year.

Congregation indicates a focus on topics that relate to individual spiritual life as well as to the life in the congregation. Some relate to involvement with specific congregational activities, such as Social Action and Welcoming Congregation. Other topics relate more to ongoing congregational life, including leadership and general issues. These session plans may be used by any of the ongoing groups or with groups specifically designed to consider a topic. Likewise, topics that relate to leadership can be used in such venues as congregational or leadership retreats.

Religious Education is a specific focus from several perspectives. One is general curriculum, and there are links from the directory to curricula on this site that are patterned after the small group ministry format. However, the session plans here are more for use of the Religious Education Committee and in teacher development. The suggestion is to take a designated part of a meeting for the session and handle the logistics that are part of the meeting agenda separately. For example, taking time for a session on “Feeling Safe” and contributing to a safe environment brings the discussion around safe congregation policies to a depth beyond the requirements for ‘two adults with children and windows in doors’.

There are some age focused session plans, such as youth. It is anticipated that other specific age groupings will be added, including elders.

There are some specific groups that are noted, such as ministers. These sessions are used in meetings of these groups.

In all of these uses of Small Group Ministry, the underlying principles must be preserved:
  • Small groups – allow space to welcome others, but keep the groups to the a maximum of 8-10 participants, including the facilitator.
  • Focus on ministry, or the caring and sharing—focus on engagement and stories rather than information.
  • The methodology is dialog rather than discussion—expect to share and expect to ‘learn’ from others. Notes or reports are not generated from session. When addressing the topic that requires decisions, do this after the small group ministry session.

Small Group Ministry is a dynamic process that enriches our lives, our congregations and out denomination at a variety of levels. We have not even begun to realize its impact on Unitarian Universalism.

All materials copyright © 2008-2018 by Helen Zidowecki unless otherwise noted. - -

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