In the encouragement of reading and studying Scripture in small groups in this year, there is great encouragement that so many are taking up the challenge to be “Connected in Christ.” To align this challenge to what Archbishop Vigneron is calling us to explore in studying, loving, praying, and living by the Scriptures, he recently released a pastoral note on The Power of the Word of God.
One section of the note exposes Scripture based on God’s trustworthiness, creativity, guidance, saving actions, and purification. God’s word purifies us by showing us hidden areas of sin and leading us to repentance. As we approach the season of Lent, it is an opportunity to enter more deeply into the hidden areas of our lives to root out sin and all that causes us to sin.
Of course, we know the threefold actions of Lent: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. People look to do more in their faith life during Lent. That is why so many of us in parishes offer more formative and prayerful opportunities during Lent. Knowing that in the 40 days of Lent, the Church unites herself to the mystery of Jesus in the desert (CCC, 540).
To further a previous recommendation of a series on the Gospel of Mark from Augustine Institute, another resource called The Case for Jesus, which includes topics like, Did Jesus Claim to Be God, The Crucifixion of Jesus, and The Resurrection of Jesus can provide strong and substantive material for small groups to discuss. Whatever the resource, entering into the themes of the Lenten season — and particularly breaking open the weekday and weekend Scriptures — really allows for a lot of great opportunities to study, love, pray, and live the Scriptures.
Lent also provides an opportunity to do a short-term small group or have groups on Lenten themes. The Pastoral Center has a good variety of small group resources, especially for those who might not be open to committing to a longer series or something more in depth. This is why using liturgical seasons for some more short-term focused ministries — Advent, Lent, Easter — might be more advantageous and reach more parishioners.
At this point, many parishes have started new small groups, while other parishes have been utilizing small groups for some time. It may be a good opportunity to pray about some of your current small group participants to see if someone may come forth to help lead another small group in Lent. This, being a shorter small group endeavor, might be a good opportunity for a new facilitator to get acclimated with a shorter occasion of leading a small group. This spiritual multiplication is what will allow for small groups to continue to grow and blossom in our parishes.
If you need support in training your small group facilitators, even for a shorter time during Lent, you can access the Small Group Playbook and also have any new/current facilitators join our monthly Zoom meeting for small group facilitators to learn and support one another.
For more information, please contact Sean Calvin at [email protected].