Small Group Ministry
Small Group Ministry (SGM) provides a format with which we nurture connections and explore spirituality within our congregations. In supporting Small Group Ministry the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) recommends a number of excellent resources to help you get started and to build relationships with others involved in SGM.
"Covenant groups are a transformational practice through which we, with others, can discover our own underlying assumptions about reality and examine our ways of being, some of which have become so habitual that they seem to us just 'the way things are.' The practice of Small Group Ministry does ask us to suspend judgment long enough to hear respectfully the understandings of others, even those vastly different from our own."
—Hill, Robert L., The Complete Guide to Small Group Ministry: Saving the World Ten At a Time. Boston: Skinner House Books, 2003.
"As Unitarian Universalist (UU) congregants and ministers, we are humanist, Buddhist, atheist, Christian, Jewish, pagan, eco-feminist, and more. This diversity of religious ideas and theological claims often makes it difficult to find a common ground, a place where we might all stand comfortably as Unitarian Universalists. This challenge is difficult, but not impossible if we step outside the language of classic, Christian theological discourse and undertake a social analysis of group power as a religious phenomenon. We can then affirm the foundation of our religious experience as the regenerating power of life itself. This affirmation unites us all as one religious people who have a diversity of theological perspectives on the human experience universal salvation. We thus begin with an explanation of the way in which we work together."
—Thandeka, The Life of Small Group Ministries.
Resources for Small Group Ministry
"Small Group Ministry asks us not only to attend to the stresses of getting through the day but also to covenant together to do what we can to make a positive difference. A faith statement is implied in those two purposes."
—Hill, Robert L. The Complete Guide to Small Group Ministry: Saving the World Ten At a Time. Boston: Skinner House Books, 2003.
UU Small Group Ministry Network
- The Unitarian Universalist (UU) Small Group Ministry Network is dedicated to creating healthy congregations and a vital Unitarian Universalist movement by supporting and promoting Small Group Ministry. Their website includes extensive resources, with newsletters, session plans, consulting services, and more.
- Skinner House Books offers sample session plans and practical guidelines—submit your very own session plan to be posted in their Small Group Ministry Resources.
- Large congregational resources are available, including a reading list for Covenant Groups and Small Group Ministry in the large congregation setting.
- Heart to Heart: Fourteen Gatherings for Reflection and Sharing, by Christine Robinson and Alicia Hawkins. A reimagined model of Small Group Ministry, focusing on deep listening and thought-provoking exercises.
- Awakening the Soul was conceived as a private devotional book, a simple guide for individuals to nurture their spiritual disciplines. The guide may be helpful to groups and congregations. Study Guide by John C. Morgan (PDF)
- Learn about The Complete Guide to Small Group Ministry: Saving the World Ten At a Time, the Skinner House publication by eloquent SGM proponent, Robert L. Hill. This 6-page introduction by Thandeka includes compelling reasons for exploring the small group ministry model, as well as a short, handy guide, Elements of Small Group Ministry (PDF). The Sample Brochure For Small Group Ministry (PDF) is a 14-page section taken from Hill's book.
- A Small Group Ministry book for men's groups: Gatherings: Small Group Ministry for Men by Tony Bushman and Bill Hamilton-Holway, is available in the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Bookstore.
- Small Group Ministry Resource Book by Calvin Dame et al. Low-cost manual that shows how a church set up its small group ministry, including multiple session plans and topics.
- Small Group Ministry Session Book by Calvin Dame et al. Detailed, ready-to-use session plans on topics that will spark discussion.
- Subscribe to the UUA-sponsored email list Covenant_Group_Ministry to share experiences, questions, comments, problems, innovations, and insight.
- A Small Group Ministry Script for Fellowship Hour (PDF)
- Unraveling Small Group Ministry and Covenant Groups (PDF)
- Young Adult and Campus Ministry Covenant Group Manual (PDF, 13 pages) by Bob Cavanaugh and Michael Tino, is a resource guide that provides program ideas and community-building exercises to foster deep relationship among members of small groups.
- Small Group Ministry for Young Adults and Campus Groups offers encouragement and resources, including a why and how-to guide on small groups for young adults.
- The Life of Small Group Ministries (PDF) by Thandeka is a Skinner Press online resource outlining the transforming possibilities that small group ministry brings to congregational life.
- An outline of the informative workshop, Creating Intentional Ministry in Small Group Ministry, presented at General Assembly 2003 by speakers from the First Unitarian Church of San Jose, CA.
- A summary of the highly popular panel, Covenant Groups/Small Group Ministry: Success Since 1982, held at General Assembly 2003, featuring speakers the Reverends Bob Hill, James Robinson, Calvin Dame, Michael McGee, Thandeka, and Glenn Turner.
- A General Assembly 2003 presentation, New Paradigms in Lifespan Faith Development, reviews small group ministry for children and youth, using the example of North Parish in North Andover, MA.
- Small Group Ministry Session on Global Warming (PDF)
Congregational Delegates at General Assembly 2004 chose "Global Warming" as an issue to be studied. This document provides guidance for focusing on the issue in the context of Small Group Ministry.
- Covenant Group News is a free monthly electronic newsletter on Small Group Ministry read by over 1250 forward-looking Unitarian Universalists. CGNews is edited by Peter Bowden and distributed by the UU Small Group Ministry Network.
- The Church of Larger Fellowship briefly outlines small group ministry-covenant groups in their 2004 Cyberminister Report, including the key factors for success.
For more information contact religiouseducation @ uua.org.
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Last updated on Friday, April 5, 2013.
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