This guide is intended to help a small group leader lead prayer and direct the discussion on a designated theme. The leader should be sure that these ground rules are understood:
- Any member of the group asked to lead a particular part of the meeting should be given adequate notice.
- Each participant should have a chance to speak
- No one should be forced to speak
- Confidentiality should be maintained
- No one should comment negatively on another’s opinion
- The specific topic under discussion should be the focus
- The leader has the right to move the conversation in new directions as needed
- The scribe of the group will note ideas generated by the group without individual attribution and will give these notes to the Local Gathering organizer.
- The organizer of the meeting and the appointed discussion leader may or may not be the same person. It would probably be better for hospitality to be in the province of someone who can dedicate themselves to that service.
As People Gather
Welcome each person. Have refreshment ready. Make sure each person is seated comfortably.
Place the group in the Presence of God with prayer or reading from Scripture /Sacred Text.
Remind participants of the theme and purpose of the gathering. Be mindful of whether the group is completely Roman Catholic or has an ecumenical dimension.
This might, for example, be a text from Scripture, the Mass, Church documents, reflection from Pope Francis or about an issue of particular Christian concern.
Allow silent reflection on the text.
Invite participants to share what stood out for them; a word, phrase or idea.
Offer, or arrange for a group member to do so, some contextual and historical background to the text. (Others in the group may have knowledge to add.)
Invite members to share their insights and their lived experience on the theme.
Discussion, especially on how the text might influence living the Christian life.
Ending the gathering:
It is highly recommended that the gathering end with prayer.
Some groups may wish to summarise the discussion while others may prefer to leave members to ponder the wisdom in their hearts.
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