Our Approach to Small Groups
Soul Matters offers a distinctive small group curriculum. Like other small group programs, its central goal is to foster circles of trust and deep listening. However, Soul Matters adds five unique components:
1. A Journey that the Whole Church Takes Together
Soul Matters small groups are not a stand alone program. They are designed as a companion program to a congregation’s worship and religious education ministries. Congregations using Soul Matters, position their small groups “an opportunity to explore our congregation’s monthly worship themes in more depth.” We also provide theme-based religious education curriculum to enable parents, children and the whole church to go on the same spiritual journey each month. Breaking down the silos between the ministries within congregations is a passion of ours.
2. Experience the Theme, Don't Just Analyze It.
We know that spiritual development requires more than analysis of a topic. There is a deep hunger in all of us for experiential engagement. Honoring this, we include spiritual exercises in each small group packet. For instance, when we wrestled with the concept of grace, our small groups didn’t just read what theologians had to say about it, they also we invited to find a way to bring grace (a gift one doesn’t expect, earn or even deserve) into another person’s life.
3. Questions to Walk with, not Talk Through.
In traditional small groups, questions are an opportunity for the group to think together, going through each question one by one. Soul Matters engages reflection questions differently. We see them as tools for individual exploration and spiritual discernment. Instead of asking small groups to go through the questions and discussion them one at a time during group time, Soul Matters participants read all the questions ahead of time and find the one question that “hooks them”—the one that speaks to and challenges them personally. Participants then live with -or “walk with”-that question for a couple weeks leading up to the group, coming to their meeting, not with an answer to each of the questions on the list, but with a story about how their one personally chosen question led them to deeper, personal insight. This technique leads us away from abstraction and intellectualizing and challenges us to think about how the topic (and question) applies to our daily living.
4. A Reminder that UUism is Distinctive, not an “Anything Goes,” Religion
Our monthly themes focus on a spiritual value that our UU faith has historically honored and calls all of us to embody in our lives. At each small group meeting, participants are reminded that our faith promotes a preferred way for us to be in the world. This is why each monthly theme is framed with the question: “What does it mean to be a people of ____________?”
5. Soul Matters Adapts to You
Our small group packets are intentionally filled with an abundance of resources so you can modify the packet to match your unique setting. You know your people best. Our packets are designed to support your leadership. We only ask that you keep our copyright, logo and web address on any material you adapt.