Spiritual Practices in the Isaiah Readings:
An Advent Small Group Study Resource 

Advent treeIn a part-time ministry hard choices are made. Often what needs to be let go are the faith formation studies and gatherings.  Even in the full-time ministry the demands of pastoral care and organizational tending mean there is little time for Advent and Lent studies.

The Small Group Studies are a new resource meant to help fill in the gap. New this Advent is a four week small group study based on the Isaiah poems, the texts for the 2013 Advent season. A flexible one-hour process is offered in a Leaders Page with suggestions for setting up the space and group check in and closing blessing. An Entry Point, a brief written or recorded reflection, is offered on the Isaiah text and a choice of questions is offered. Each session proposes a Prayer Practice for the Week.

There is a Participant Page for each of the four sessions. Here is a sample of the Leaders Page for the first session: Leader Page #1 – Preparing for the Absurd (revised)

Who is it for?

Put together a group of people even as small as 2-3 people and you have a group. It may be led by a lay person or clergy.

The format offers material for a one hour session though you can adapt it to make it shorter or longer. It can be used during the  four week in Advent. It could also be used by groups meeting monthly (like UCW’s)  as the themes are not distinctly “christmas-y.” A regularly meeting Lectionary group could use it as it follows the Hebrew Scripture readings for Advent. Ministers might find it helpful in preparing worship. It’s meant to be flexible!

How does it work?

When you Register for the Advent Small Group Study you will be sent a Link and a Password to a private web page. Here you will find your materials for each session.

You can download and print the Leader Page and make copies of the Participant Pages. You can download and save the Audio Recordings and take your laptop and speakers to the group. Or you can listen and summarize the material if you prefer. There are a few other Extra Resources to help you plan your session. There is even a poster you can edit with your local information.

There is also an optional Leaders Conference Call if you have questions or need a hand sorting something out.

We don’t have an internet connection at the Church.

You don’t need one. The material can be downloaded and printed. The Audio Recordings can also be downloaded and saved to your laptop or mobile device and played at the meeting. You will likely need speakers.

Can we use it with more than one group on the pastoral charge?

Yes, once you register and get and link and password you can use it for multiple group with different leaders.

Is it just for churches in the Maritime Conference?

No, we welcome registrations from anywhere. This is the neat part of sharing web based resources.

How much does it cost?

There is a $25 registration fee for congregations to access and use the material.

How can I register and pay?

You can register on-line here.  Click here for Registration for Advent Small Group Study. You will choose to pay by cheque which you can mail to us.  You can also pay on-line using our PayPal site with your own credit card or your PayPal account if you have one. There is a choice though to pay with your own credit card.

What other good ideas do you have?

Ok, no one asked that question. I made it up because I want to emphasize the importance of feedback and ask for feedback on a couple of other ideas. If you register you will be offered an evaluation and I hope you will use it. I tentatively have plans for a similar Lent Study.

If you read this far and don’t register and there is a specific reason for that (cost, don’t understand something, etc) please let me know. I might be able to work on that.

And if you can’t be part of a group you might want to consider the Advent EMAIL Retreat. An retreat will be emailed to you each Saturday in Advent. Read more about it here. click here for info or to register: Email Retreat. Actually you can register for both the Small Group Study AND the Personal Email Retreat from that page.

Also, I am working with Robyn Brown Hewitt in designing an ON-LINE CONFIRMATION PROCESS which would include sharing information on a private Facebook site using  video presentations and creating participant discoveries to be completed. There is also an option for an overnight gathering at Tatamagouche Centre. The idea is to offer an on-line community for youth in places where there might not be a large number seeking confirmation. It will also offer a learning community that youth can access at a time that works for them and yet engage with others virtually.  So what do you think?

Please send your comments or questions to Janice MacLean by EMAIL or telephone 506 536 334 ext 4.