A couple of months ago, JP and I decided to make an attempt at starting a small group for adults in their 20’s-40’s from church.
The Protestant churches we came from were really good at connecting people via small groups. Everyone we knew at the church we were at just prior to becoming Catholic was in one. The groups met weekly, in people’s homes. And it was just a nice way to get connected in our faith, make friends, and do some life together.
We found there wasn’t anything like that at our Catholic parish. There were programs that would probably best fit people who were older, or who didn’t have young kids at home, or programs for youth. We felt our age range was underserved, and decided to do something about it.
A huge barrier for people in our phase of life is the fact that many of us have young children. It’s tricky to focus when there are littles running amuk, so we knew we would have to do something to remove that barrier. Hence, we found babysitters.
We also knew food and drink would be an extra enticement to get people to show up. We offered beer, wine, and snacks to help set up an atmosphere of hospitality and fellowship.
Our initial plan was to host the small group weekly in our home. We don’t have a huge house, but we figured it would start small since it was such a new concept.
Well, much to our surprise the interest exceeded the size of our living room! Which was great news, but we really wanted to be able to follow through on our promises of a babysitter, and still maintain the small group structure, so we had to make a slight adjustment to our original plans.
We were able to meet in the St. Lucy school cafeteria, while the kids played with the babysitters in the gym. We split up into two groups for discussion, and spent some time getting to know each other, with plans to start the official study next week.
And… it went really well!
JP and I tried to plan very thoroughly to make this first meeting a success. The only hiccup came towards the end of our discussion time when the fire alarm went rogue and sounded off, forcing us all into a foyer-type area to wrap up kind of early, and in an odd way. Fire alarms weren’t, unsurprisingly, a contingency we planned for. 🙂 But it seemed like everyone took it in good humor, and one couple had brought ice cream cups for the kids, which we then used, and which helped keep them busy and happy.
When all is said and done, it looks like we’ll have between 18-20 adults in this first round. We will be doing a Bible Study called Lectio Eucharist, from the website Formed. It’s a high quality study with great discussion questions and excellent content. We hopt it will help us all grow in our faith and understanding of Holy Communion, and that we’ll be able to develop lasting friendships within the group.
Down the line, we would still very much love to have this group split up into people’s homes, and then offer common fun events where everyone could get together. But, for this first time through, I think it’s good that we are able to model the feel and structure of a small group, even though we need a larger meeting place to do it.
We are praying for everyone to feel welcome, and for potential home hosts to develop over the course of this first study. And we are so thankful for the opportunity to fill a need in our parish, and to connect some of us 20’s-40’s folks together in a meaningful way.
P.S. Our first small group did not, as the photo for this blog post shows, include a bonfire in the grand canyon. But we do have a bonfire on the calendar for Memorial Day weekend, so… close enough. 🙂