Soul Connections Small Group Ministry
Small Group Ministry at Countryside Church Unitarian Universalist (CCUU) is called Soul Connections because at its heart, small group ministry is all about making connections with others.
If you are interested in joining Soul Connections, we ask that you please complete this brief interest survey. If you are unfamiliar with Soul Connections, detailed information is included below.
In the Soul Connections groups, we follow the monthly ministry themes, using materials from Soul Matters, a collaborative of UU churches sharing themed ministry materials. There are readings and a variety of optional spiritual exercises to help you delve into the monthly topics.
TESTIMONIALS from SOUL CONNECTIONS PARTICIPANTS
“…Soul Connections is multidimensional. It is an individual and community activity at the same time….Soul Connections has become an invaluable ‘guidebook’ on my personal pilgrimage and given me fellow travelers for the journey.”
“…through radical listening and the guidance of our group leader, I learned to deeply listen and to shed my fear of sharing, and soon the others in the group were like long-time friends.”
“I don’t have another space in my life where for two hours I am free to think, speak, and be heard on a deeper level than the superficial level on which I communicate during much of my work day.”
“Soul Connections enriches me. Our gatherings help me to understand myself, challenge me to thoughtfully consider viewpoints I haven’t thought much about, and invite me to look at familiar concepts in new ways.”
More details about the groups follow. If you are interested in participating in a Soul Connections group, please complete this brief interest survey.
SOUL CONNECTIONS BASICS
Facilitated small groups made up of adult newcomers, friends, & members of the church
Men and women of all ages are encouraged to join.
Each group’s membership remains constant throughout the church year, September thru’ June
Typically, there are 3-4 individual groups meeting on a monthly basis.
Soul Connections group members gather monthly to share their stories, thoughts, feelings, and perspectives on a given topic. All Soul Connections groups in the church explore the same topic during a given month. This allows for continuity of experience across our congregation.
What are the attendance expectations for Soul Connections?
You are committing to one regularly scheduled meeting per month of the ministry theme year (September through June).
Each Soul Connections group gathers once a month, September through June, for approximately 2 hours on a regular day and time. Space permitting, you can sign up for the day and time that works best for you.
Sessions may meet online or in person, depending on the wishes of the group.
Three or four weeks before each monthly gathering, participants receive a packet of short readings and a variety of optional spiritual exercises to help us delve into our monthly topics.
To strengthen each of us on a personal level, enrich our discussions as a group, and bring more focused spiritual development to the group experience, as well as to nurture the building of relationships and community.
WHAT SOUL CONNECTIONS IS – AND IS NOT
Soul Connections is:
* Sacred time and space for relationship-building
* A commitment to the group through consistent attendance
* A commitment to the process through sharing and listening
* Participatory and encouraging
* Safe – members share at a level and pace with which they are comfortable
Soul Connections are not:
* “Drop-in” groups
* Therapy, support, or problem-solving groups
* A place to give or get advice
* A venue for debate or controversial discussion
SOUL CONNECTIONS FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)
Do I need to be a church member to participate in Soul Connections?
No. All adults are welcome to participate in the Soul Connections program. It is a wonderful way to get to know people in the congregation and to deepen existing connections within the church community. We would encourage you to attend an Intro to CCUU orientation session, held the 1st Sunday of each month.
What are the attendance expectations for Soul Connections?
You are committing to one meeting per month for 10 months. It is very important to make a serious commitment and attend your group on a consistent, monthly basis. In this way, you and all members of your group receive greatest continuity and benefit from participating. When you miss a meeting, everyone misses out! If you absolutely must be absent from a meeting, you are expected to contact your facilitator in advance.
May I “drop in” to any group or move between groups?
Once each group’s membership is determined, it remains set through the church year. This is a critical element in the building of relationships and the development of trust within the group.
May a person start mid-year?
Ideally, each Soul Connections group is formed prior to September, then meets once per month for each of the 10 months of the church year in alignment with the monthly ministry themes (Sept-June). Late-start/mid-year groups are possible depending on other individuals also being available to join the same late-start group. Rarely will late-start participants be added to existing groups because doing so disrupts the continuity and relationship of the existing group.
Is there a cost to participate in Soul Connections?
There is no cost to participate in the Soul Connections program. Material is provided either electronically or by print.
May I be in the same group with my partner or other family member?
In the past, we have had groups with multiple family members, as well as family members who intentionally chose separate groups. It is primarily a matter of personal preference.
What if I don’t get along with one of my facilitators or group members?
Soul Connections groups represent a learning process and an opportunity to “stretch” for everyone involved. We are all at different “places” as we come to the program. Soul Connections is a chance to practice openness and understanding, growing and “muddling through” with each other’s help.
When and how does group restructuring occur?
Group participation may “roll forward” to the next church year or may restructure during the months of July and August. In either case, church staff will coordinate and approve of the effort.
Tell me more about the service component of Soul Connections.
Each group is encouraged to choose and perform one service project per year, within the church or in the broader community (e.g. serve as a Sunday hospitality team, help out with Time & Talent Auction or Music with a Mission, volunteer with one of CCUU’s service partners, hand-pack meals for malnourished children). It’s an opportunity to make a contribution together and balance the inward focus of the group with outward connections. It’s also a way to strengthen bonds among group members, to get to know each other in a different way, and to have fun!