Why Small Groups at St Raphael?
Small groups (also called "faith groups" or "Community Groups") help fulfill our parish's overall mission, by empowering adults at St Raphael to love and serve the Lord more effectively, helping meet our individual needs to
The need to be part of a community, to share, and to build friendships.
The need to develop and deepen our faith.
The need to serve others for Christ.
In general, why are Small Groups so important to Catholic Christians?
Here are ten reasons:
- Jesus modeled small group ministry. (See the artilce "How Jesus Modeled Small Groups" in the Submenu on the left side of this page.)
- Meeting in the home is modeled by the early church (see Acts 2).
- Small groups are the best known way to accomplish our call as Catholics to love God and love people (the Great Commandment).
- Small groups give us a heightened sense of belonging.
- Small groups help us grow and mature spiritually.
- Small groups are a way for us as Catholics to discover and develop our spiritual gifts.
- Small groups provide a network of care within the body of Christ.
- Small groups are the best place to live out the “one-another” verses found in the Bible.
- Small groups are an effective way to evangelize and share our faith with others.
- In small groups, we can develop as spiritual leaders.
What are the results of a vibrant Small Group ministry at St Raphael?
- Even more trust, strong friendships, and camaraderie in our parish
- More chances to learn about our faith
- Increased opportunities for people to express their gifts:
- Hospitality, Care/compassion, Teaching, Exhortation, Administration, Serving
- Help sprout new ministries – and increased involvement in current ones
- Help identify and grow more leaders at St Raphael
- People at St Raphael become rallied around a larger vision of what church means to them
What are some "best practices" of healthy, effective small groups?
- Groups are best in sizes of 8-12
- Couples or individuals are just fine; a mix of singles and couples is also encouraged.
- Groups should be open to membership changes.
- Inviting in members from other parishes is absolutely welcome.
- Groups should meet every 2-3 weeks. Every month at the very least. Some active groups meet every week.
- Groups may want to have one social/fellowship time for approx. every 2-3 “regular session” times.
- Groups need to be clear on their purpose early on. Examples:
- “We want to understand Scripture better, and get more connected to the Church.”
- “We want to study the Sunday readings and learn together."
- “We want to apply Scripture to our lives and support each other.”
- “We want to do more in-depth (academic-level) study.”
- Groups need to be clear on the norms for discussion and sharing. For example:
- “We’re all beginners here.”
- “We want to read scripture and church teachings prayerfully.”
- “We’re really not here to give each other advice on problems.”
- “What’s said in group meetings always stays confidential.”
- Groups choose their own books and materials to read and discuss, with multiple options available as suggestions. There is complete freedom to choose materials agreeable to the group.
- Groups need to agree on the commitment to the group and to the material studied:
- What priority does the group have in everybody’s schedules?
- Is everyone expected to do certain “homework” ahead of time?
- Groups need to settle housekeeping matters. For example:
- Where and when to meet? At homes? A room at St Raphael's? If so, how is that scheduled? Who provides refreshments? How long will meetings be? (Max 90-120 minutes)
- Groups need to agree on leadership:
- It's best if one person is the clear facilitator of any particular meeting.
- This responsibility could rotate equally, shared in portions, or be the responsibility of one person all the time.
- God must be at the center of every group.
- Scripture is the word of God. And the Church is God’s idea for community.
- God’s heart and purpose must be central to each group.
- Readings and discussions must be approached prayerfully.
- Groups need to be encouraged to always listen for God’s Word, both individually, and as a group
What reading materials should groups use?
There are a number of easy, well-tested reading options for Catholic small groups. They include bible study guides, devotional readings, classics by authors like C.S. Lewis, as well as newer works that challenge and encourage Catholics in different ways, like materials from Matthew Kelly and Scott Hahn.
In the Submenu link on the left-hand side of this page titled "Recommended Small Group Reading Materials," you'll find over 25 options, all of them used in some fashion by prior small groups at St. Raphael's or nearby parishes. A great place to find many of these materials is our own St. Raphael's Gift Shop! Just call them at
If you still have questions, check with one of our priests or deacons, or with the folks in the St. Raphael's office. Many of them are familiar with these materials. Or call Jim Hauskey at
(or e-mail him at