Use Small Groups for Any Step of Your Clear Path
Small groups provide a highly versatile context for making and maturing disciples. They can fit into busy schedules before work, over the lunch hour, or after soccer practice. They can meet in homes, coffee shops, or office buildings. They can even meet online during a pandemic. And the best part is that small groups can work for any step of your clear path.
While the overall format stays the same, the content and facilitation of the small group will change according to which step of your clear path is being served.
Small Groups as Relational Outreach
A ministry designed to build relationships of trust with individuals who are non-practicing, fallen away, and even non-believers.
Content: Small groups that function as relational outreach will often focus on topics that are not explicitly religious, like parenting or leadership. These topics are attractive even to non-Christians and can help build relationships of trust that are primed to go deeper.
Facilitation: Since the purpose of a relational outreach is trust-building, facilitators typically refrain from proclaiming the Gospel or giving catechesis until it becomes clear that the group (or participant) has become receptive. Coming on too strong too soon can make the relationship feel instrumental or manipulative, which sabotages trust.
Example: Dads gathering around a fire pit twice a month to talk about parenting.
Small Groups as Conversion Moments
A ministry designed to foster an encounter with Jesus and a call to conversion.
Content: Small groups that function as a conversion moment must be laser-focused on the kerygma. Excessive catechetical adornment can obscure the potency and immediacy of the Good News that the Son of God loved me and gave himself for me (Gal. 2:20).
Facilitation: Conversion Moments are successful when they culminate in a participant’s decision to follow Jesus as an obedient disciple in the midst of his Church. To that end, the Gospel must be presented clearly and proposed as a legitimate option. At the same time, facilitators should encourage lively intellectual debate and the honest expression of doubts, which strengthen the eventual decision to follow Jesus.
Example: Small groups focused on sharing the Good News using a resource like the 6-week “Discovery” study from Catholic Christian Outreach.
Small Groups as Faith Formation
A ministry designed to support disciples as they grow in the knowledge and habits of the Christian life.
Content: Small groups that function as faith formation should provide solid and comprehensive catechesis. They should focus on an understanding of the Creed, the Liturgy, Life in Christ, and Prayer, drawing from the Catechism, the Bible, and a wealth of other catechetical resources.
Facilitation: Participants in faith formation have already made a decision to love and follow Jesus. Now they have a hunger to know God more deeply that they might love him more intimately. Faith Formation seeks to satisfy that hunger. Facilitators have a much stronger teaching function here than in the other steps of the clear path. Also, the communal aspect of a small group supports growing disciples in their commitments to live by the teachings of Jesus and his Church.
Example: A group goes through the new formed.org series on the Eucharist.
Small Groups as Evangelization Formation
A ministry designed to equip disciples as they are sent out on mission through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Content: Small groups that function as evangelization formation practice the habits of a missionary disciple: prayer, compassion, friendship, and invitation. They equip each member to discern their charisms and exercise them through a personal apostolate.
Facilitation: Participants need encouragement and accountability as they take practical steps on mission. Facilitators take on the role of mentor and coach.
Example: Moms who want to share their faith meet weekly to pray for other moms and practice habits for evangelization.
Live Lent Together is a small group initiative of the Archdiocese of Omaha that makes it easy to foster a small group culture. For more information visit archomaha.org/lent.