5.40am on Tuesday 23 April 2024

Setting up an After Sunday Group

Setting up a group in your church, house-group or workplace.

The benefit of small groups

Small groups are the most effective way to help people to explore ways to connect their faith with their daily life and work. There are a number of reasons for this:

  • Our experience of life is the start point for exploring faith in action and small groups make it easier for people to talk about their own experiences  
  • People learn a great deal from listening to others and hearing their stories
  • People need a safe and accepting environment to think for themselves and explore new ideas  
  • Small groups can be very encouraging and supportive and help to build confidence
  • Small groups can be creative, fun and stimulating

There is a good deal of evidence to suggest that people in the Church are reluctant to attend courses although Lent is often a time when more people are willing to engage.  It may be that people feel they need to have enough knowledge or be sufficiently committed to be able to join in.  After Sunday small group resources start with people’s experience and use a process of discovery learning and so are accessible to everyone.

Adults in particular learn best when they have a particular problem to solve or issue to address.  After Sunday small group resources offers helpful ways to explore issues that are relevant to group members from a faith perspective.  The group members decide on the subject matter and After Sunday offers a process for discussion and sharing.

Courses that have been very successful, like the Alpha Course, have built themselves around social activities such as shared meals.  The social and hospitality dimension of any group is important.  After Sunday small group resources are generally designed as short sessions that can be fun and can be part of a social activity.

Many courses are dependent on an ‘expert’ to run them.  Whilst some preparation is helpful, After Sunday small group resources are designed so that anyone with an interest in and basic skills in facilitation can lead the sessions.   Facilitators notes are available for free to download.  After Sunday also offers materials to develop the skills of facilitation.  In a small group the responsibility for leading the group can be shared with different group members.

Some points to consider in setting up an After Sunday group.

How to get started 

Here are some suggestions:

  1. You may already have an existing arrangement of house-groups or discipleship groups in your church. After Sunday resources can be used flexibly by them as one off session or as part of a series.
  2. There may be a particular topic or issue that is of concern to a number of people e.g. looking after elderly relatives, adjusting to retirement, dealing with unemployment, juggling work and family pressures etc.  Get a group together who may be interested in exploring these issues from a faith perspective using the resources for Reflective Living as a start.
  3. You may have a group of colleagues in your workplace who might be interested in exploring how to make sense of work from a faith point of view.  Invite a group to get together at some suitable time of the day for up to 1 hour and use the Essence of After Sunday and the God and Work resources as a start.
  4. You may want to offer a course like a Lent course to help people to think more broadly about how their faith connects with daily life.  Use the Essence of After Sunday or Discipleship in Daily life as a start.
  5. You may feel that there are individuals who would find it helpful to explore the question of God’s call in their lives, perhaps people at a key transition point in their lives. Use the Exploring Vocation resources as a start.

Purpose and Aims

  1. What is the topic /theme that you want to explore
  2. Do you want this group to meet for a limited time and then disband or be part of an on-going arrangement?
  3. Who might be interested and what might they hope to get out of it?
  4. Which of the After Sunday topics might be a good place to start?

Group Size

There is usually an optimal size for any group depending on the available accommodation and activity to be carried out.  For active discussion and participation, smaller groups are recommended of around 6-8 people with a maximum of 12.  The larger the group size the more important good facilitation becomes.

Where and when to meet

People lead such busy lives that finding a suitable time to meet that satisfies everyone can be a difficult. Some options are:

  1. Evening sessions in someone’s home or suitable warm and light room with coffee/ tea facilities
  2. Morning or afternoon as above – but excludes those who have work commitments
  3. After work / early evening – can suit people who finish work by 6.00pm and still want the evening free.  Refreshments can be provided
  4. Lunchtimes – increasingly difficult in the workplace but maybe it would make a point about the importance of rest during the day – see Resource God and Work GW 7
  5. Saturday mornings – say in a coffee shop or somewhere different – 10.00- 12 noon – still allows the rest of day for family activities
  6. Breakfast meeting at 7.30am for 1 hour with a light breakfast. There is still a willingness to do this
    Let us know if you have tried other options that work well

Inviting Group Members / Publicity

If you already have an existing group then this is not an issue but you might consider extending your group to include others who might bring another perspective.

Experience suggests that people will respond better if they are invited to become part of a group.  It may be that you only want the group to get together for a few sessions to address a common issue in which case this needs to be clear.  People are more likely to commit if there is a clear endpoint.  It may be that group continues beyond that but people are free to join or leave.

Some points to consider are:

  1.  Prepare specific invitations to attend that can be handed to people.  
  2. Make clear what the purpose and topics for the session will be
  3. Provide potential group members with advance warning about the sessions This may best be done by finding a suitable person to talk to them about the group aims and benefits.
  4. Make leaflets / publicity material available.

Who will lead / facilitate the group 

We recommend that After Sunday modules should be run by someone with an interest in and some experience of leading or facilitating groups.  The leaders / facilitator will also need to become familiar with the content of the sessions. 

Options are as follows:-

  1. Those with sufficient confidence can use the After Sunday resources to prepare and deliver group sessions.  Full details are provided for facilitators
  2. After Sunday staff can act as facilitators to directly deliver modules to groups in the Newcastle / Co. Durham area. This is free of charge but we would ask that groups print their own materials and cover our travel expenses.
  3. After Sunday may be able to help put groups in touch with each other with a view to sharing local facilitators.  

After Sunday is developing a range of materials to support people who want to learn more about group facilitation skills.  You can find more information here

Resources /Costs 

The After Sunday group resources are freely available to download from this website.
Prepare any advance background or other material that participants might find useful (e.g. participants hand-outs). All After Sunday resources are in PDF format, which can be printed / photocopied free of charge. Be aware that some sessions require a little preparation by the participants before hand.

Other resources you may need might include:

  • Suitable venue –are there any cost implications and how will they be met?
  • Refreshments
  • Flip charts, pens etc.
  • Participant worksheets
  • Any other resources for worship

How After Sunday can help you

Please contact us of you feel we can help you. 

We can support you in deciding:

  • How to put session together to meet a particular need
  • Which topics link together 
  • How best to facilitate a session or develop the skills of facilitation
  • Any background information about the topics
  • Other resources (books, websites) which might help you

After Sunday is a registered charity, number 1128086. Website development by Hiltonian Media.