Faith Sharing ETC Group Guide

Keep it simple: song, scripture, narrative, faith-sharing, prayer.
A Song that most of the group knows is the best beginning.
If even one member of the group can sing it with confidence,
the rest can follow along.  There will almost always be someone
who groans about the idea of singing a song.  Let them groan,
but do a song anyway.  A song touches a place in us that proclamation and narrative have a harder time reaching. 
This example might seem too simple or just for older group members, but it works well:
                                  Now Thank We All Our God
    Now thank we all our God     With heart and hand and voices,
    Who wondrous things has done,     In whom this world rejoices;
    Who from our mothers' arms     Has blessed us on our way
    With countless gifts of love,      And still is ours today.
    Oh, may our bounteous God     Through all our life be near us,
    With ever joyful hearts     And blessed peace to cheer us;
    To keep us in God's grace     And guide us when perplexed
    And free us from all ills     In this world and the next.
    All praise and thanks to God     Our Abba now be given,
    With Son and Spirit too     Who reign in highest heaven:
    The One Eternal God,     Whom heaven and earth adore!
    For thus it was, is now,     And shall be evermore.
               Martin Rinckart, 1586-1649, Translated by Catherine Winkworth, 1829-1878, alterd
Scripture is read aloud by one member of the group
while the group members follow in their own bibles;
differing translations are fine, and can even be helpful.
One or two passages are usually enough.
If the group is sharing around a theme the Catechism can be
a good source for Narrative, and every section has a multitude
of scripture references, sometimes found in the footnotes.
If the group is sharing from a book on a particular topic,
the book itself will almost surely make reference to scripture
passages or stories.  If not, the group leader can use his or
her best judgment, trust the Holy Spirit, and choose a passage.
Narrative exploring the theme and the scripture passages
can be read by members taking turns, a paragraph at a time;
those who do not like to read in public can simply "pass."
Four to six pages is usually enough for one meeting.
If your group is primarily about faith sharing around scripture,
then the narrative can be the New American Bible footnotes
to the passage, or something from a scripture commentary
that can be found in any good parish library.
Faith Sharing is often done from reflection or discussion
questions.  If no questions are available, invite everyone
to share from the scripture and narrative reading,
without comment from the group, something like
one of the following:
  •  a seed planted, something I anticipate taking root and growing within me, and growing me...
  •  a memory provoked, part of my story or our journey, whether pleasant or sad...
  •  a question raised, something unknown to study, research, discuss with others, or further ponder...
  •  an action prompted or resolution made, a way to claim my identity as a disciple of Jesus...
When everyone has had an opportunity to share once,
open up discussion to the whole group.
Before time has run out, offer the quieter members of the group
an opportunity to share something.  No pressure.
Closing Prayer can be simply a minute of silence,
intercessions from the group, and the Lord's Prayer.
Some groups like to repeat the song, or the first verse,
or save the last verse for the closing prayer.
It is the group leader's job to begin the closing prayer
so that the group does not go over the agreed-upon time.
Trust in this will keep most people from worrying about
their watches during group time.
But keep it simple!
New Groups:
If your group is new, or if your group wishes to go deeper in the way you share the faith, the best resource is Theological Reflection by Joye Gros, O.P., D Min (Chicago: Loyola Press, 2002, available in Spanish). Loyola Press provides a downloadable study guide in English and in Spanish. Get a copy for each group member and read it together.
Steve Wolf