Journey Groups: How They Work

Journey groups are our "friends on the path" -- 5 to 12 people with whom we share the journey, the pilgrimage of our lives.

of how Journey Groups work

1. Scheduling. Journey Groups meet once a month -- some of them in a member's home and others at CUC. Some Journey Groups may have the same host for every meeting for a year. Others may rotate the hosting. Journey Groups will be scheduled to meet during the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th week of each month.

2. Facilitator. Each Journey Group has a facilitator. Facilitators agree to facilitate for one year (10 meetings) at a time. Ideally, most Facilitators enjoy and are enriched by facilitating, and want to stay at it for many years. Some Facilitators will prefer an "every other year" pattern. Others may may take off every 3rd or, say, every 10th year.

3. Facilitators Meeting. Facilitators have two meetings each month:
(a) a "Facilitators Meeting" at which they meet with all the facilitators and the minister, and
(b) their Journey Group.
The Facilitators Meeting occurs during the first week of each month. At the Facilitators Meeting with the minister, the Facilitators receive ongoing training and practice exploring the theme of the month in preparation for their respective Journey Group later that month.

4. The Monthly Packet. Each month, a Monthly Packet is produced. The minister assembles the packet with the collaboration and suggestions of the Facilitators. The Monthly Packet includes:
  (a) A column by the minister, giving an overview or "starter" reflection on the theme of the month.
  (b) A spiritual exercise to do relating to the theme of the month.
  (c) A list of "Questions To Live With." The list will include about 8-12 questions, and these instructions: "Don't treat these questions like 'homework.' You do not need to engage every single one. Instead, simply look them over and find the one that 'hooks' you most. Then let it take you on a ride. Live with it for a while. Allow it to regularly break into -- and break open -- your ordinary thoughts. And then come to your Journey Group meeting prepared to share that journey with your group."
  (d) "Recommended Resources." A collection of quotes, reflections, poems, etc. on the theme of the month, with these instructions: "This is not 'required reading.' We will not analyze or dissect these pieces in our Journey Groups. They are simply meant to get your thinking started -- and maybe to open you to new ways of thinking." The Recommended Resources will also list: online videos and podcasts, books, movies, and links to articles that pertain to the theme of the month. Some members may wish to explore some of these, but there are no "assignments."

5. Dissemination. The monthly packet is disseminated the same way the Communitarian is. It is posted on line and a link is emailed to the congregation -- in the same emailing that includes the link to the Communitarian.

6. Preaching. Generally the first Sunday or two of each month, the sermon will address the theme of the month. This further aids reflection on the theme in advance of the Journey Group meeting.

7. The Meeting Format. At the Journey Group meeting, you may expect:
  1. Chalice Lighting. Facilitator lights a chalice and reads centering words. 
  2. Check-in. Go around the circle for about 2 minutes of check-in from each person on "How have things been going in your life over the last month?" Others listen without comment.
  3. The month's Spiritual Exercise. Go around the circle and share experience or reflection on the spiritual exercise of the month (as described in the Monthly Packet). Others listen without comment.
  4. Free-form sharings and comment on issues raised.
  5. Questions to Live With. Facilitator reads aloud the "Questions to Live With." Then go around the circle and each participant shares which questions most "hooks" them, and why. Others listen without comment.
  6. Free-form sharing and comment on issues raised.
  7. Check-out. One more time around, with each participant invited to offer a closing thought.
  8. Closing. Facilitator extinguishes the chalice and reads closing words.
The Facilitator guides the process of deep listening as group members share not just thoughts, but experiences and the emotions that made them meaningful.

Signing Up

During each summer, the list of the Journey Groups will be posted for the upcoming church year (first meeting in September). The list will announce the monthly day and time of the meeting and will indicate the neighborhood it will meet in, but won't name the facilitator (since finding a day and time that works for you is the main concern.) After the initial summer sign-ups, new members, or any member who missed the summer sign-up period, may join a Journey Group "already in progress" -- as long as that group isn't full.

On-line sign-up: CLICK HERE.