What is a Small Christian Community?
Usually, we define a Small Christian Community (SCC) as a gathering of 8-12 people who pray, share, support one another, learn, and go forth in mission, evangelizing one another for others and for our culture. Ministries, staffs, and committees may also include such elements into their meetings, thus becoming ministerial Small Christian Communities. The Scriptures as they appear in the Catholic Bible or in a lectionary are foundational to all sharing, but Church teachings and even secular documents may also be used.
The Small Christian Community is available to:
- Consult with clergy and parishioners on the establishment of SCCs within and outside of parish boundaries
- Offer introductory presentations and workshops on the rationale of a process for initiating SCCs in a variety of ministries and settings
- Foster greater awareness and engagement in the transforming power of the scriptures
- Network and collaborate with Diocesan and parish ministries and organizations interested in or involved in faith sharing activities
- Provide small group facilitators’ training and workshops, and ongoing formation events and resources for leaders and participants
Bringing Christ Into Your Home
We all want our homes to be places of beauty where goodness and love abound. But sometimes we forget that the best way to do this is to invite Jesus, the model of beauty, love, truth, and goodness, to be present with us, not just in church, but also where we live. How can we do this?
Practical ways to live out your faith at home
Some easy, and do-able ways to make your faith present:
- Do you read bedtime stories to your children? Purchase a book of bible stories and share the stories of our faith with your children.
- Talk to your children about your faith and how it sustains you. Tell them about your first communion, how you learned to pray, and other moments when you felt God's presence.
- Do you own a family bible? Take it off the bookshelf and leave it out on a table in your family room or living room. This invites family members to read it for inspiration and reminds all family members and guests that yours is a Christian home.
- Purchase or create some religious-themed art for your walls. Beautiful painted crosses, copies of Renaissance masterworks, and even folk art objects can be part of your collection.
- Make time together to eat as a family and pray together before meals. If you have lost this habit, it will feel awkward at first, but soon it will be a natural part of family meals.
- Have each family member designate a special spot in the house for prayer or meditation. This may be a cozy chair in the corner, a pillow on the floor, or even a garden swing– anyplace he or she likes to go to be alone and find peace.
- Make a "Faith Wall" or a "Faith Corner" in one room of the house. Use this to display framed pictures of family weddings, baptisms, first communions, etc. You can also frame baptismal and confirmation certificates, and add pictures of family members doing service projects, like joining a Crop Walk or collecting food for the poor. A sconce might display each child's baptismal candle. Each time you pass this wall, you will be reminded of the growing faith of your family.
Bible Study and More
Religious Education is not just for children and teens. The Church has always strongly supported lifelong learning about the Faith. In fact, the US Bishops issued a statement in 1999 in which they said, "...lifelong formation is always needed and must be a priority in the Church's ministry."
Our diocese offers a host of opportunities for spiritual growth. Just a few examples are:
- Bible Study Groups
- Evening or Saturday Presentations
- Prayer Groups
- Small Christian Communities
- Retreats for Men, Women, and Couples
- Social Justice Advocacy Groups
- College courses
- Online mini-courses
Although all of these opportunities are not available in every parish, each parish offers at least some of these programs. And all of them can be found within a short drive from anywhere in our diocesan boundaries.
Ask your pastor if your parish has a coordinator of Adult Faith Formation or contact Bob Bursley at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
10 Ways to Grow in Your Faith (For Adults)
Enriching Your Faith
There are many ways for adults to enrich their faith. The United States Catholic Bishops in their plan for adult formation mention five general activities that can help adults deepen and enrich their faith: 1. small groups, 2. large group presentations, 3. family activities, 4. the Mass, and 5. individual activities.
Here are 10 specific ways to grow in your faith:
- Bible Study-Many parishes have ongoing Bible Study groups. These groups tend to be small and meet regularly or seasonally.
- Faith Sharing Groups-other small groups gather regularly in many parishes to share faith and grow in prayer.
- Attend a Presentation or Lecture Series-many parishes schedule regular presentations especially during Advent and Lent.
- Participate in a Parish Mission- Parishes hold annual parish missions which consist of bringing in a mission leader who conducts a week-long retreat-like series of talks usually offered in the evenings.
- Take a Theology Course Online—Several Catholic Universities offer on-line courses in theology. The Diocese of Trenton partners with the University of Dayton and Notre Dame University.
- Participate in the Easter Triduum- The Triduum is the annual three day celebration beginning on Holy Thursday, continuing on Good Friday and culminating at the Easter Vigil on the Saturday night before Easter Sunday.
- Go on a Retreat-There are several retreat houses in the diocese.
- Read a Book- there are so many good books on spirituality, theology, Jesus, the Saints, etc.
- Participate in a Parish Service Activity- most parishes have several programs to reach out to the poor or marginalized.
- Celebrate the Seasons of the Church Year at Home- learn about what you can do to celebrate Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter and Pentecost with your family at home. Celebrate saints feast days.