We're starting a Small Groups Movement!
As a core structure for weaving spiritual community in the 21st Century, small groups create a human-scale, intimate space for open dialogue, genuine connection, and a shared journey. Cohorts of 10 people or so, small groups come together around a shared interest or question (i.e. Shabbat dinner or “How do I prepare for the High Holy Days?), meet regularly (i.e. monthly or weekly), and deepen relationships through these repeat encounters. Small groups foster a distinct culture, where individuals feel seen, heard and embraced. This is what most of us yearn for, even before the COVID-19 crisis.
Based on my (Rabbi Bethie Miller’s) experience leading small groups and also supporting others to do so, I have witnessed how small groups strengthen member engagement, foster leadership development, and enable communities to respond to an increasing diversity of interests and identities. I also believe the most impactful way to cultivate strong leaders is to invite individuals to first participate in a small group. This way, all the new leaders will have a shared reference point regarding the goals and culture of an intentional small group.
Here are the experiences and supports that I can offer to synagogues or other spiritual communities interested in starting to invest in small groups this year and beyond:
EXPERIENCE: Representatives from the synagogue each participate in a small group that I facilitate on Zoom. Each group will be limited to 10 participants, and will meet weekly for 3-4 weeks. Before the groups begin, participants will give input about the small group schedule and topic (i.e. Ask Big Questions, Becoming a Soulful Parent, Mussar, Here All Along).
LEARN: Next synagogue teams will learn more about the why's and how's of small groups. We will also strategize about ways to get started in their congregations.
LEAD: Synagogue teams pilot small groups in their own communities. These pilot groups will not only introduce more people to the small group experience but also help to identity future small group leaders. In addition, I will support teams to do the listening, organizing and processing necessary to build broader buy-in for small groups in their congregations.
LAUNCH: Synagogues launch more groups on a larger scale. This phase will include a training workshop for new leaders and those supporting them, as well as follow-up meetings.
A few notes:
* At this time, all groups and workshops facilitated by Rabbi Miller will take place on Zoom.
* It's beautiful for synagogues and communities to go through this process together. In addition to building relationships across congregations, as they continue to experiment, these communities can support one another, share learnings and resources, and even collaborate.
* Small Groups can form around a range of interests or questions: books, meals, activities, shared life stage, or even geography. What holds groups together are the relationships!
Interested in working together? Let's talk! Reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org