How To Start A Regional Men's Group
WE ARE LIVING IN CHALLENGING TIMES FOR MEN when we all need to support one another – especially men who profess to believe in Christ. Many guys often say how great it would be to get together with other men to build strong relationships and grow together spiritually. However, one of the typical responses these same men often give when asked to consider starting a men’s group in their local area is: "Me, run a men’s group? I don’t think so! I’m not qualified to run a group like that…"
MANY OF US IN THE CHURCH, and generally more men than women, believe we have to be qualified in theology or catechetics, or be some form of faith expert, to lead or facilitate any type of group. Well, I’ve got some good news for you – starting a men’s group in your parish or local area is not as challenging as you may think. You don’t have to be a spiritual giant or Scripture scholar to get the ball rolling. You only need to want to grow in your Christian vocation and discuss faith and life with other men. Let me show you some steps you can take to start a men’s group in your region.
Get the Church’s Blessing
Whether it is a parish or local men’s group, it is important to let the Parish Priest know what’s going on. Let him know that you would like to start a men’s group who want to obey the teachings of the Church and simply love our Lord Jesus Christ through prayer, study and fellowship.
Update the Parish Priest regularly
Try and meet briefly with the Parish Priest on a three-monthly or so basis and let him know what you are up to and that you want to support him in applying the Lord’s vision for the parish. If he is a difficult man to track down at times then drop him a succinct note into the priest’s house. Above all, let him know what is going on.
Find a Couple of Other Men
Start small! You only need two or three others to begin. Remember in Matthew 18:20 where Jesus speaks of Him being present when two or more are gathered in His Name. Get started. Plant the seed. Allow God to nurture it, and it will grow! You may want to ask your Parish Priest if he knows of any men who might be interested in joining a men’s group.
Arrange a Place to Meet
If the group is small then it is fine to meet in someone’s house – your own maybe. Men who want to meet often don’t care about the décor and setting. The meeting place can be a shed or garage even, as long as it is private, accessible and not too cold or uncomfortable. If you choose to meet in a home then it is good to rotate the meeting place so that one person is not always burdened with hosting.
Alternatively, you may wish to discuss meeting in a parish room of sorts. Chat this through with the Parish Priest, or with the Parish Secretary after your initial briefing with him, to find out what room(s) might be available.
Running a Meeting
It is good to focus on God’s Word (e.g. Lectio Divina), on Catholic teaching such as Vatican II documents and/or writings of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Look for the practical application of these teachings and how they follow the way of love. Develop practical topics that meet the needs of men in your region. These may include: loving your wives, raising and discipling your children, balancing work and family life, or the role of your faith in further becoming a man of integrity. (Visit our resources page for more suggestions).
If the group begins to grow then break up into smaller groups of four or five for discussion after any material has been presented.
Keep an eye on the time, and keep meetings brief yet quite regular so as to meet all men’s needs. Better to have a fortnightly or monthly meeting of an hour and a half than one that is too lengthy and prevents many men from attending. Always try and begin and end on time too.
A sample Saturday morning/ weekday evening may look like this:
7.15am or 7.45pm Gather – simple snacks/drinks available
7.30am or 8.00pm Presentation of discussion material
8.15am or 8.45pm Small Group Discussion
8.45am or 9.15pm Prayer and petitions
9.15am or 9.45pm Session ends
Be Brothers Who BLESS
A men’s group is not a place where guys seek refuge from their wives and families and responsibilities, but is a place where men are encouraged to lay down their lives as Christ did for the Church.
Above all, just support one another and speak well of one another in love regardless of your differences. Do your utmost to focus on loving Christ and being obedient to the teachings of His Church. Ensure your group is as open as possible to all men irrespective of their age, race or denomination.
Encourage Spiritual Growth
Encourage prayer, a love for the Scriptures, devotion to the Eucharist, and loyalty to Church teaching and authority. These are the pillars of the Church along with the Sacraments and provide a strong support for men in their call to be leaders in the way of love in their families and the community.
Keep the Group Growing
You might want to consider:
- presenting your group to another group that meets in the parish/local area
- include some brief words about the group in the parish newsletter
- put up a poster at the back of church and in the local library or community centre
- send an e-mail out to men you know and ask them if they, or anyone they know, might be interested in coming along
- Let us know about your group and we can include it on the Harvesters website
- make some invitation cards and hand these to guys at the end of Mass
It is a good idea to consider creating a core group team of men with responsibility for overseeing the parish men’s group ministry and for supporting one another should the group get bigger than eight members.
Pleased remember that small parish-based Catholic men’s groups are not an alternative to many of the other excellent Catholic organisations that support men, such as the Knights of Columbus, Cursillo, and the Catenians.
If you want more help with getting started, or need a prod of encouragement every so often, then get in touch with us. We would love to help you get things up and running.