Calling and Discernment for Small Groups
Career Development for Ministers, Becoming a Minister, Support and Caring in Congregations

Developed by Rev. Jeannie Shero and Rev. Lyssa Gundlach

Small Group Conversation

Use a small group ministry model to facilitate individual reflection and group sharing. Allow two hours. 

Introductions and Covenant (5 minutes)

Ask participants to share name, year in school or place in ministerial formation process.

Ask  participants to agree to a covenant, as follows:

Knowing that my presence is important to the group, I commit myself:

  • to share the responsibility for good group process through my own self-awareness and sensitivity to the group’s needs
  • to honor confidentiality and to tell only my own story to others
  • to honor the safety of the group by listening to what others share with an open heart
  • to refrain from cross-talk, judging, or giving advice
  • to share from my own life experience

Where I’m From (25 minutes)

  1. Invite participants to write their own “Where I’m From” poem, following a process suggested by Georgeellalyon . Ask them to reflect further: How does your heritage inform what you do in the world?  Allow 15 minutes for writing and reflection.
  2. Ask participants to share poems in large group. If your group is larger than 6 people, break into smaller groups. Allow 10 minutes for sharing, each in turn, without cross talk or interruption.

Calling (30 minutes)

Sing “Voice Still and Small,” Hymn 391from Singing the Living Tradition.

Share these questions and invite participants to take 15 minutes to reflect and journal in response:

  • What or whom calls me?
  • What does calling mean to me at this point in my formation?
  • To what or whom am I called?

Invite participants to share, each in turn, without cross talk or interruption. Allow 15 minutes for sharing. 

Discernment: Sacred Questions (35 minutes)

Share one or both of the quotes that follow as well as the accompanying reflection question(s). Invite participants to reflect and journal for 15 minutes.

"...I would like to beg you dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer."—Rainer Maria Rilke,in Letters to a Young Poet, 1903

  • What are some questions you are asking at this time in your formation? Questions could be related to any dimension of your life. List as many as you can.

"Two or three things I know for sure, and one of them is that if we are not beautiful to each other, we cannot know beauty in any form."

"Two or three things I know for sure, and one is that I would rather go naked than wear the coat the world has made for me." ~Dorothy Allison

  • What are two or three things (or more) you know for sure about your formation?

Invite participants to share their reflections, each in turn, without cross talk or interruption. Allow 20 minutes for sharing.

Community (20 minutes)

Share this quote:

"The journey toward inner truth is too taxing to be made solo: lacking support, the solitary traveler soon becomes weary or fearful and is likely to quit the road.

The path is too deeply hidden to be traveled without company: finding our way involves clues that are subtle and sometimes misleading, requiring the kind of discernment that can happen only in dialogue. The destination is too daunting to be achieved alone: we need community to find the courage to venture into the alien lands to which the inner teacher may call us."—Parker Palmer

Share these questions and invite participants to reflect and journal for 10 minutes.

  • What support do I need in my formation? Who or what can support me in the unfolding of my calling?

Invite participants to share their reflections, each in turn, without cross talk or interruption. Allow 10 minutes for sharing.

Closing Song or Prayer

Sing Hymn 391 together or offer a prayer that speaks to the content of the discussion.

For more information contact mcodirector@uua.org.

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