SMALL HOUSE GROUPS BIBLE MEDITATION AND SHARING

COMMUNITIES FOR LIFE

HOW TO CONDUCT A GROUP MEETING

THE JOURNEY TO LIFE LOVE AND FREEDOM

The Bible in your life and your life in the Bible

How to Conduct a Meeting and Objectives

Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. (John 6:68)



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How to Conduct a House Group Bible Meditation Meeting

The following is a tested method but need not constitute a rigorous formula to be strictly adhered to. The essential core of the meeting is meditation on the text and sharing one's experiences and insights. This is meant to be a Spirit-led and Spirit-controlled experience.

Communities meditate on the Word of God directly and not mediated by any other material, whatever that may be. The Holy Spirit should be allowed to determine the general flow of the meeting on the basis of "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth" (John 16:12). Communities meditate on the inspired Word of God and learn to discern the leading of the Holy Spirit in applying it to individual lives and to the community.

Differences in doctrine among members belonging to different denominations is to be expected and communities should be tolerant of this. The communities do not indulge in debating such issues. The differences may delicately be brought into relief but without disturbing the state of meditation of the meeting.

Members should remember that it is not a bible study but a bible meditation and sharing community. It is not academic but spiritual in nature. A right balance should be reached between meditation and sharing, between listening and speaking with a minimum of discussion, as people tend to become entrenched in opinions which tend to hinder the guidance of the Holy Spirit and tend to encourage conflict with subtle interplay of emotions and ideas. All of this is conducive to self assertion rather than mutual submission as members of the body of Christ are invited to do: "Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ" (Ephesians 5:21).

Members should be aware of the passages for meditation in advance in order to meditate on them during the week before the meeting.

Everyone should be encouraged to participate and adequate space given to those who have difficulty in expressing themselves due to shyness, language, or because new in the faith. One way of doing this would be to let them speak first and those with more experience last. No one should normally correct or confront any intervention directly. The Holy Spirit will enable each one to perceive the ring of truth of what is said. Leaders may ask questions based on the text and suggest possible applications of the text in order to stimulate reflection and meditation but should not direct the flow of the meeting in a predetermined direction. To this end each biblical text is accompanied by a series of questions meant for the leader. A meeting might take a different turn compared to that of the questions provided on the text. It will almost certainly be different from the reflections which are intended as handouts after the meeting as supplementary reading at home.

The community should not be exploited to push any agenda or propaganda whether religious or political.



Structure of a house group meeting

It is advisable to arrive five or ten minutes before the beginning of each meeting for members can welcome each other, introduce new members and indulge in informal chat.

The meeting proper should open with spontaneous prayer followed by prayer requests. This has the advantage of creating an atmosphere of prayer and recollection appropriate for understanding and absorbing the Word of God and satisfying the needs of individual members. Anyone and everyone should be encouraged to participate in this prayer which may be a prayer of thanksgiving, praise, healing or any other in accordance with the needs of the community.

The whole passage proposed for the meeting should now be read and time allowed for short meditation. No guidance is necessary during this time as each single verse shall be the object of the attention of the meeting. A short time should be allowed for sharing those few general points that have emerged.

Then each verse is read, one at a time, followed by meditation on each single verse, during which each one will ponder on the meaning and apply it to his / her own daily life and to the life of the community and to their own church or parish.

The questions considered useful on the specific texts to stimulate meditation and sharing would be asked either during or after a short period of meditation on the single verse but without interrupting the prayerful atmosphere that has been created. No answers are required on the part of those in the process of meditation, they are merely to stimulate thought and enrich the meditation of each as it proceeds. After the questions have been asked and meditation on the verse has ended the time for sharing the experience and leading of the Holy Spirit during meditation begins. This is the sharing phase of the meeting. The leader should not be surprised if the prayerful atmosphere breaks down but he should try to reestablish it as soon as possible. People are rarely used to silence in this noisy world and it takes time for them to grow in the love of silence and meditation.

At the end of the meeting the leaders can summarise the content of the meeting or ask someone else to do so.

The meeting should end with spontaneous community prayer based on the content of the meeting. It is important to experience how the Word of God stimulates and nurtures prayer. All members should be encouraged to participate in this spontaneous prayer. The structure is not rigid and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit may be modified. However, the core element will always remain: meditation on and sharing of the Word of God, the reason for which the community exists.

Depending on time and circumstances of the host tea or coffee may be served at the end when more informal sharing can take place.

The reflections on the text are handouts for community members at the end of the meeting to be read at home. They are not meant to condition the flow of the meeting which is determined by the Holy Spirit.


Objectives:


General Direction

The community should be outward-looking and always operate in the perspective of evangelisation outreach. From the core community of parish members, gradually invite persons of any Christian denomination, of any faith and of none. However, this should not be detrimental to the essential unity of the group. Unity must not be confused with uniformity.




Personal objectives




Community objectives


To develop from a group to a Christian community similar to New Testament communities, where mutual love, understanding, help and encouragement prevail.

The community as a whole should try to spend time together outside of regular meetings. One such initiative would be weekend or day retreats.

The community should never be inward-looking but should always be looking to discover ways of spreading the Good News to others. One such way would be to read the bible in public and stimulate one-to-one conversations with whoever is interested, to encourage them to read it, and to distribute short biblical texts with a thought relevant to their lives.


Parish / church objectives

Our communities shall always seek ways to be of use to the parish and local church in collaboration with the parish priest / pastor. Both as a community and as individual members we should live in harmony with all in the parish / church and especially with the priest / pastor. They should always have at heart personal and parish /church renewal. Working together with the parish priest / pastor the community can provide help in the various roles open to them. They should always pray for their priests and pastors and support them wholeheartedly in their difficult task.

Any members who see our communities as alternatives to their local church lie outside the spirit of Communities for Life.


New groups

Once the maximum number of persons able to be accommodated in the house is reached a new community should be established.

The new community will have the same leaders as the mother community and in time and following the guidance of the Holy Spirit eventually two new leaders for the new community will be appointed.

Freedom of movement between one community and another will be maintained and there should be no rivalry but healthy communion between them. To this end the new community should be at a different time and day.

There should be no discrimination of age. Young and old should be willing to learn from each other and encourage each other. Age discrimination or any other form of discrimination is not Christian. Ensuring mixed age groups enables and encourages spiritual development both of individuals and of communities.

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