Short term small group

Your names and church 

Matt and Anna Hawken, New Life Church, Milton Keynes 

How did you use the Parenting for Faith materials?  

As a small group that ran just for a term. 

Why did you choose to use the sessions like this? 

Our church has a structure where you advertise and run a small group for a term at a time. As the people didn't know each other beforehand, we thought a weekly meeting would give people a chance to get to know each other better and also enable it to fit it into one term. We ran it in our home so picked a time when both our children would be asleep so that we could lead it together and share the responsibilities of hosting and leading the discussion. 

What day and time did you choose and how often? 

Wednesday evenings, weekly. 

Did you have to adapt the material to make it work for your sessions? If yes, can you tell us what you did? 

We had some sessions where for various reasons we only had a couple of people attend. It felt right to adapt or not use the discussion questions in order to focus on the individuals and how we could specifically support and pray with them about their child(ren). A few of these times we also only had people who were clearly external processors so we ended up doing the individual reflection as discussion so we could let them verbalise their thought processes. 

What went well? 

People were really encouraged and challenged by the material and we had some amazing times of discussion and prayer together. We had two individuals who had intended to come alone but who ended up persuading their partners to come in subsequent weeks. We also had one couple who brought their baby along. She was a great icebreaker! 

What didn’t go so well? 

People found it difficult to come every week so it felt challenging to build momentum and relationships. We also had to call two weeks off because of snow and one because of illness so being flexible was key! We had a WhatsApp group for everyone on the course so it was easy to make decisions like this as well as share feedback and ideas. 

Would you use the material like this again? 

Yes, though possibly work harder at building the relationships beforehand. Maybe have some socials in the lead up to the course. 

Do you have any top tips for others who might want to use the sessions like this? 

We found it's really key to find ways to follow up during the week and keep the momentum going and include anyone who has missed a week for any reason. The WhatsApp group worked really well for this. Another time, we’d make sure to email a link to the session for anyone who missed it so they could catch up if they wanted to.