Small Christian Communities

I am interested in discussion and/or networking regarding faithful Catholic small Christian communities (or small church communities, or just small groups if you like). Everything I Google is either basic advice, trying to sell me something, or an organization that offers me dead ends. I’ve been involved in various small groups for over 20 years; often leading them; typically “winging” it. As leader, I’ve often taken Catholic books I liked and created discussion questions for each chapter (some available at my site). Currently our group is using ***Challenge ***by Mark Link SJ (premade for groups, a lot less work for me). I am enjoying it (and it’s based on the spiritual exercises).

I am interested in a network of groups that offers genuine support, shares downloadable materials, recommends other materials, and so forth (but not a “network” merely focused on a particular set of materials it sells!) I would be interested in a relatively formal network, perhaps even a secular order that focuses on leading small groups (hey, there’s an idea). I’m interested in talking to any “visionaries” out there who perceive the power of small Christian communities and are working to promote them.

I realize Small Christian Communities may not perfectly fit into this section, but I would argue that it fits here as well as anywhere else. I would also suggest that if more people realized how vital such an approach is to everything else about our faiths, there would be a section devoted to small groups and I wouldn’t need to throw my message in a bottle into an unknown ocean! :slight_smile:

Thanks for your time,

VW Malzahn

You can start a group in Catholic Answers Forums. Click on the “Groups” tab above and then “Create Group.”

the small Christian communities or communidades des bases generally grow out of various renewal “programs” or processes, usually embraced or at least endorsed by the diocese, or at least at the parish level: Cursillo, Disciples in Mission, Renew, Christ Renews His Parish, the charismatic renewal, and so forth. The elements of these are similar in that there is some form of training and preparation for leaders and organizers, faciltators of small groups, and participants. These usually include some form of instruction in the faith, along with a method of using, studying, and prayering with the scripture, particularly the Gospels, to evangelize first participants, then the local parish and diocese to reach active Catholics, and then usually the plan is those empowered by this personal evangelization will themselves be moved to evangelize inactive and non-Catholics.

The small faith sharing group is usually envisioned as the place individual participants deepen their own faith through just that, sharing the individual word they are receiving through their immersion in the Word, to illumine and strengthen their own and each others’ faith. This is supposed to equip them to become more active, as individuals, in various ministries and apostolates within and outside the parish.

Any of those organizations can provide you with materials to begin small groups, but you will likely find the momentum to support and continue them through participation in something wider than just a group of like minded Catholics you have drawn together.

Almost every publisher of Catholic textbooks and devotionals has materials suitable for small groups. I recommend highly if you are getting started on your own, with group studies from Word Among Us, because they do have notes for group facilitators in each one (cost for members will be less than $10 if they want to own the book, which is intended to be used as a journal, and the cost of a bible).

I’m new to the forum; I didn’t realize it was so easy to make a group within the forum. I will be doing so, thus I will repeat much of this and continue it under “Small Christian Communities.”

There are many great “programs” out there; however, in one sense or another, these programs restrict themselves, either by materials used or by focus of the meeting. While I have enjoyed time with Charismatic groups, the focus on experience and gifts largely leaves out actual formation in the faith—catechism, apologetics, salvation history, theology, Bible study, church documents, theology of the body, contemplation, and so forth. And while some of the liturgically based materials are good, these still drastically limit adult formation in that one is unlikely to receive a good dose of some of those things just mentioned. RENEW is a good example; it was great for sharing and fellowship, but did little for actual Catholic formation. The underlying theme here is that small groups should be more than sharing and fellowship alone—as the Church herself is more than these. The ideal Small Christian Community would also embrace a systematic formation in the faith—if it plans to continue for many years and to eventually become involved in all the things the larger church is involved in—including social justice, evangelization, community outreach, and so forth.

Please believe me that I’m not questioning the value of these fine programs / movements; however, I believe the “typical” Small Christian Community would benefit from a more comprehensive formation over time and various outreaches as this is accomplished and the group matures.

VW Malzahn

I have created the “Small Christian Communities” group under “Social Groups” from the main forum page. The link below should get you there.

-VW Malzahnh

Or on Facebook.
I agree, it is hard. I wonder why.

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