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Thursday, October 4, 2007

Use small groups in coffee hour to welcome TIME reading guests


I just got off of a conference call with UUA President, Rev. Bill Sinkford, our moderator, Gini Courter, and UU's from all over the US.

Here's the deal. Very soon millions of people are going to get their Time magazine containing a full page ad about Unitarian Universalism. If this goes according to plan many of them are going to visit your congregation.

What are you going to do? Given this HUGE outreach opportunity I thought I'd share my group based strategy.

For the past three Sundays I partnered with three different congregations to get members and friends jazzed about connecting, ministering to one another and changing the world via small groups. Part of this included running small groups during coffee hour.

In previous years I've worked with congregations to hold "small group ministry" sample sessions after coffee/fellowship hour. This year I used a different approach in two out of the three congregations. Instead of SGM sample sessions we held one-shot open everyone's invited community building groups.

Here's how it worked. We announced it during the service, letting people know it was a congregation wide event that would be taking over coffee hour. About 10 minutes into coffee hour we started setting up chairs. 15 minutes in we invited people to find a seat. We then handed out a simple script for each group to use. All we did was ask for a volunteer. Easy! We then let the groups run while several of us floated around.

What did we get?

Stories. Laughter. New friendships. The intention to start a new parenting group. Several people deciding to go to lunch together. People enrolling in small groups. And HAPPY NEWCOMERS.

Imagine if every congregation in our association simple planned on holding what I've taken to calling Fellowship Hour Circles over the next month?

Maybe you're ready for an additional 5 - 20 newcomers to walk through the door every Sunday this month. Maybe you have a platinum level greeting ministry. For those of you in need of a plan, maybe this will help.

Here are links to the session in rich text and PDF form:

I invite you to forward this email to your minister, membership and/or welcome committee. They may be wondering how to handle this influx guests. Share a little small group wisdom with them! If you end up using this format, let me know. I'd love to hear how it went....

in faith,

PS - Read more about the national marketing campaign / Time ads here

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#90 - How small groups help congregations through times of of stress and trauma


I am excited to announce that as part of our October CGNews collaboration we will be working with Don Skinner, editor of Interconnections and top UUA journalist. Since Don is working on a small group ministry article for the we thought we'd join forces.

Here's how it is going to work. We have selected the following topic:

"How small groups help congregations through times of of stress and trauma."

Send me your stories, thoughts and testimonials related to this subject. I will compile these and share with Don Skinner. He will use this material for his article. When completed I will share the article link and complete compilation with you. Note that we need your responses over the next few days in order to make our deadline.

In your experience with small group ministry/covenant groups, how have small groups helped your congregation in times of stress and trauma?

A few areas to consider....

- natural disasters
- ministerial transition
- size transitions
- issues related to war and terrorism
- what else?

What has your experience been? I invite you to write as little or as much as you'd like on this topic. Just do it sooner than later ;-) I'll share with Don and together we'll share the results with you

I look forward to hearing from you!

Peter Freedman Bowden
Editor, Covenant Group News