This Fall Saint Paul’s launched a brand new approach to Sunday School in the Episcopal Church. We call it - Big Group<->Small Group (B.G.S.G.).
Why a new method?
B.G.S.G. is designed to relieve the pressures of holding a consistent bible study that spans multiple generations. Attendance on a weekly basis can be difficult for families that travel or have family in other states. In the Fall, weekend programs often compete with college sporting events; and in the Spring, vacation weekends and enjoying the beach and waters often result in many members of our church family being away at least once every 3 to 4 weeks.
One of our primary goals in Adult Christian formation is to make it accessible to all our members. We also understand the importance of face-to-face teaching and conversational learning among participants. B.G.S.G. meets all three of these goals in the middle.
How does Big Group work?
About once a month we will hold a BIG GROUP. Big Group discussions will be held in the Parish Hall between services at 9AM. These gatherings will be led by Fr. Keith or John Talbert and for the majority of the time work like your standard “lecture style” Sunday school class. ALL participants in B.G.S.G. should make an effort to be at church for BIG GROUP.
The purpose of the Big Group is three-fold.
- Provide a primary teaching on the subject material
- Discuss answers to small group questions submitted to Fr. Keith between sessions
- Identify potential small group gatherings and communicate about meeting dates/times
During every BIG GROUP session, a concurrent Sunday School offering for 3rd through 8th Grade students will be held in the Christian Education Building. Infants through 2nd grade will gather in the nursery. High school students are encouraged to participate in Big Group.
How do Small Groups work?
Small groups are the “in-between” glue that holds all this together. Except that it’s a really flexible, adjustable “glue”.
TWICE, between Big Groups, participants should gather with AT LEAST ONE other person for about 30 minutes to answer provided questions. These gatherings can happen anywhere, with anyone (anyone willing to read about Jesus and pray), and at any time.
- Having your neighbors over for dinner on a weeknight
- Gathering in-between services with a few people on a non-Big Group Sunday
- Meeting 30 minutes early or staying 30 minutes late after an ECW meeting
- Opening your bible with your spouse after dinner to read and pray
- Gathering with your Supper Club and making Small Group a part of the evening
We hope you will get creative with how you incorporate Small Group time into your monthly routine.
For each small group session, we will be providing a short reading or audio clip for you to engage with - followed by a short series of open ended questions to help guide discussion. All materials will be communicated to you via email and on our website. We do ask that at least one person takes notes and reports back to us a summary of your small groups answers. This is necessary for us to help synthesize our primary topics and bridge the gap between Big Groups. A form will also be provided online for you to submit your summaries.
BIG GROUP <-> SMALL GROUP kicks off September 17th.
Our opening topic is: “Learning to Live in Tune”. What does it mean to worship? I mean, truly Worship the Living God? Does this change if we are worshiping in a large group? What about worshiping individually? Do you think God wants us all to worship the same way, or can there be beauty in our differences - all like different melodies interwoven in a single song… like an orchestra of the “Company of Heaven”?
There will be four additional BIG GROUPs this Fall: Oct. 8th, Oct. 29th, Nov. 19th, and Dec. 3rd.