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Building Small Christian Communities

Team Manual

LIFE IN THE SPIRIT AND COMMUNITY LIFE

The Life in the Spirit Seminars and other renewal programs are life-changing, beginning steps into the full life in the Spirit. But what happens next? Many people follow up on their new experience of the Holy Spirit by participating in a prayer group. But the prayer group is not an end in itself but a means of directing its participants into community life. Christian community is the Biblical context for living the life in the Spirit. The seminars in this book are to lead people from life in the Spirit into community-life in the Spirit.

The team leading these seminars may need help in using this manual to conduct the seminars. Presentation Ministries will talk with you about training your team to lead the seminars and provide videotapes to train your leaders. Call or write:

Presentation Ministries
3230 McHenry Ave.
Cincinnati, Ohio 45211
Phone: (513) 662-5378

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Preface

Introduction

Part 1: The Work of the Team

1. The Goal
2. The Team
3. The Team Leader
4. The Team Meetings
5. The Seminars
6. The Teachings
7. The Small Groups

Part 2: The Seminars

The Explanation Session
1. Christian Community
2. Biblical Brotherhood and Sisterhood
3. "Crucified to the World" (Gal 6:14)
4. "There's No Place Like Home"
5. Evangelization
6. Sanctity and Service
7. Spiritual Gifts in the Home Meeting
8. Everyday Life in the Home-based Community
9. Preparing to Join a Community
10. The Larger Church and the Home-based Community
11. Networking Home-based Communities
12. The Leadership of the Home-based Community

Concluding Team Meeting

Additional Resources from Presentation Ministries

GUIDEBOOK FOR PARTICIPANTS IN THE SEMINARS

Make your own copies of this Guidebook for those participating in the seminars. A limited number of guidebooks are available from Presentation Ministries.

PREFACE

In 1975, the Lord stirred up the Holy Spirit in me and changed my life. I was immediately very concerned with forming a Christian community. This was a radical change for me, as I had previously shown little interest in Christian community and highly valued my independence. In the next five years, I formed a "covenant community" and a parish community. The Lord worked powerfully in these communities, but they seemed to be lacking something. The superstructure of the "covenant community" was too demanding for most people, and the parish community was not stable because of changes in the parish leadership. Moreover, although these communities were the best expression of Church I had ever seen, they lacked the depth of commitment we see in Acts of the Apostles. Finally, about 1983, several parishioners of Our Lady of Presentation Church in Cincinnati, Ohio began to form home-based communities. The idea for these communities came from Pope Paul VI's document on evangelization (58). These communities were the closest thing in my experience to the shared daily life of the New Testament Church. In this book, we share what we learned about leadership development, structure, and networking in forming home-based communities.

INTRODUCTION

"They devoted themselves to the apostles' instruction and the communal life, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. A reverent fear overtook them all, for many wonders and signs were performed by the apostles. Those who believed shared all things in common; they would sell their property and goods, dividing everything on the basis of each one's need. They went to the temple area together every day, while in their homes they broke bread. With exultant and sincere hearts they took their meals in common, praising God and winning the approval of all the people. Day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved." —Acts 2:42-47

Many programs have been developed to form small groups, basic communities, or cell groups. The seminars outlined in this book are different from some of these other programs because of our emphasis on Biblical standards for Christian community. We are trying to form something other than faith-sharing groups conducted by a facilitator. As good as these are, they are not all that the Lord intended by the outpouring of the Spirit at the first Christian Pentecost. The Lord intends for His disciples to share life together daily and not just meet together (see Jn 10:10). He is calling us to live out our baptisms in a brotherhood and sisterhood that is just as deep as in Acts of the Apostles. Although many Christians in our society are not ready for the depth of Biblical Christian community, we should not settle for anything less. If only five people join these "Acts of the Apostles Communities," we will at least have a basis for growth. The communities should branch out and form new communities. What started with five people can be more than fifty people in four or five years. But if we water-down Christian community to appeal to more people, we may start off with fifty participants, but in five years most of the groups will have fallen apart. To receive God's grace, we must form communities based on His word and on the power of the Spirit. Even if this appeals to only a few people, these communities will grow because they are on a solid foundation (see Mt 7:14).

PART 1: THE WORK OF THE TEAM

1. GOAL

To prepare participants in twelve sessions to make a three month commitment to be members of a home-based community.

2. THE TEAM

Those on the team giving the seminars must be totally committed to Jesus and open to the Holy Spirit. Their lives, marriages, and families must be in God's order. The team members should have participated in the Life in the Spirit Seminars or received new life in the Spirit in another way. They must be strongly committed to forming home-based communities. Even if the team is very small, it's important for the team members to meet these criteria.

Role of the Team

  1. Greet the participants, lead worship at the seminars, and teach the seminars.
  2. Intercede daily for the participants.
  3. Lead their small groups.
  4. Pray over the members of their small group after the third, ninth, and twelfth weeks.
  5. Meet individually with members of their small groups.
  6. Help raise up leaders for the home-based communities.

3. THE TEAM LEADER

The team leader must have wisdom, love, and the gift of administration.

Role of the Team Leader

  1. Lead the weekly team meetings.
  2. Encourage an atmosphere of Christian love in the seminars and team meetings.
  3. Make sure that all team members are clear about their responsibilities for the seminar and that everything in the seminars is done according to the guidelines of this book.
  4. After consultation with the team, make any decisions — especially assigning teachers, greeters, worship leaders, and small group leaders.

4. THE TEAM MEETINGS

There should be a team meeting prior to each seminar, preferably not on the day of the seminar. These meetings should primarily be times of intercession for each of the participants in the seminars. The team meetings should also be times to communicate problems and good news to the other team members. Finally, these meetings are for the orderly administration of the seminars.

5. THE SEMINARS

The focal points of the twelve seminars are the third, ninth, and twelfth weeks. On these weeks, the leaders of the small groups pray over the participants. For Catholics, it is ideal to do this after celebrating Mass.

6. THE TEACHINGS

We have refrained from writing out or outlining the teachings for the seminars so as to leave room for the Spirit to work with the teachers in different ways. The goals, Biblical references in the guidebook, comments on the teaching, and supplements should provide enough resource material for the teachers. They can use these as the Spirit leads. (Videotapes of these teachings are also available from Presentation Ministries: V-40A, V-40B, V-40C.)

Guidelines for the Teachings

  1. Teach from 10 to 20 minutes.
  2. Quote several Biblical references.
  3. Share a brief personal testimony related to the teaching.

7. THE SMALL GROUPS

Purposes

  1. Provide an opportunity for participants to seek clarification on aspects of the teachings.
  2. Encourage participants to give personal testimonies of their conversions to Christ.
  3. Pray for miracles in the participants' hearts and lives.
  4. Remind the participants to pray and read daily the guidebook. (Duplicate additional copies for each participant.)

Size and Formation

  1. Have about five people in a group.
  2. The first week, let everyone go to any group they want to as long as the numbers are about even.
  3. After the first week, the leaders should try to form the most compatible groups by praying for discernment and then assigning people to groups.

Format

  1. Meet for about 15-20 minutes after the teaching.
  2. Begin and end by joining hands and praying.
  3. Encourage brief personal witnesses concerning the theme of the seminar.
  4. Pray with each one personally.

 

PART 2: THE SEMINARS

THE EXPLANATION SESSION

GOALS:

  • To inform people that they need to be living an active life in the Spirit to benefit from these seminars.
  • To state that the goal of the seminars is to form home-based Christian communities.
  • To pray for all to obey the Lord in regard to their participation in the seminars.

These seminars are intended for those totally committed to Christ and who are open to the Holy Spirit. The participants can be of any Christian denomination. Spouses should participate together. If this is not possible, the one spouse should come with no less than the expressed support of the other.

GUIDELINES:

  1. Show how these seminars begin where the Life in the Spirit Seminars end.
  2. Give a Biblical picture of Christian community by reading and briefly commenting on several Scriptures from the first and second seminars, (See the guidebook.)
  3. Give a personal testimony concerning the necessity and value of Christian community.
  4. Meet in small groups to answer questions and pray for each person to do God's will.
  5. Announce the time and place for the first seminar and subsequent seminars.
  6. Encourage all to pray for each other concerning participating in these seminars and to invite others to the first seminar, provided they have the necessary background, (i.e., as explained in the paragraph under GOAL, above.)

 

SEMINAR 1 — CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY

GOAL

To show why Biblical, Christian community is necessary for the full life in the Spirit.

ORDER OF THE SEMINAR

5-10 minutes

1. Opening prayer
2. Praising the Lord. (Praise as long as the majority of the people are participating.)

5 minutes

3. Introductions

Introduce the team and, if the group is not too large, have all the participants introduce themselves and say why they've come. Then introduce the twelve seminars and the order of this seminar.

20 minutes

4. The teaching and personal witness

15-20 minutes

5. Small groups

5-10 minutes

6. Announcement of next meeting, distribution of guidebooks, and instructions on the use of the guidebook
7. Concluding praises

COMMENTS ON THE ORDER

Before the seminar, greeters should take the names, addresses and phone numbers of the participants. The seminar should last about an hour. At this seminar, people should go to any of the small groups as long as they are evenly divided. See page 6 on small groups for more details. The leaders should pray for repentance and healing so that there will be no obstacles to receiving the message of the seminars. After the seminar (not before or during) it is good to provide an opportunity for fellowship with light refreshments.

BIBLICAL REFERENCES FOR THE TEACHING

See the Scriptures from the first week of the guidebook.

COMMENTS ON THE TEACHING

After an opening prayer, the teacher should immediately read and briefly comment on several of the Scripture passages in the first week of the guidebook. He should list several reasons for Christian community (1st supplement). Then he should contrast Biblical community with the typical Christian's life-style today. He should conclude with a few other Biblical references and a personal witness. Although the teacher may not read all the Scriptures listed, he should read and comment on several of them and not merely paraphrase them. He may use one Scripture as a theme-verse with which he begins and concludes. The teacher should communicate the need for and his excitement about Christian community and assure the participants that we can have this kind of community today. The quote from Pope John Paul II from the 2nd supplement may help communicate the Church's understanding and approval of Christian communities.

1st SUPPLEMENT TO SEMINAR 1

WHY CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY LIFE?

  1. to be baptized brothers and sisters in reality, not just name (1 Cor 12:13).
  2. because we need each other. We're created that way (1 Cor 12:21).
  3. for full power in evangelization (Jn 17:21).
  4. for the full release of the spiritual gifts, because the gifts are for the common good (1 Cor 12:7).
  5. to experience fully Jesus' presence (Mt 18:20).
  6. to hear God fully (Jn 10:27).
  7. for protection (Mt 18:12; Eccl 4:12).
  8. for strength (Eccl 4:12; Gn 29:3).
  9. for growth in holiness (Prv 27:17).
  10. for exponential growth in power (Lv 26:8).
  11. to harvest those who have experienced renewal (Hag 1:5-7; 2 Jn 8; Rv 3:2).
  12. for authentic love (1 Jn 3:18).
  13. to obey Jesus (Jn 17:21).

2nd SUPPLEMENT TO SEMINAR 1

A DESCRIPTION OF CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY

"A rapidly growing phenomenon in the young churches — one sometimes fostered by the bishops and their Conferences as a pastoral priority — is that of 'ecclesial basic communities' (also known by other names) which are proving to be good centers for Christian formation and missionary outreach. These are groups of Christians who, at the level of the family or in a similarly restricted setting, come together for prayer, Scripture reading, catechesis, and discussion on human and ecclesial problems with a view to a common commitment." (Pope John Paul II, Mission of the Redeemer, 51)

"These communities are a sign of vitality within the Church, an instrument of formation and evangelization, and a solid starting point for a new society based on a 'civilization of love.' " (Pope John Paul II, Mission of the Redeemer, 51)

3RD SUPPLEMENT TO SEMINAR 1

"A Lesson From the Geese"

As each bird flaps its wings, by flying in a V formation, the whole flock adds 71 percent flying range than if each bird flew alone.

Lesson: People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going quicker and easier because they are traveling on the thrust of one another.

Whenever a goose falls out of formation, it quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the "lifting power" of the bird immediately in front.

Lesson: If we have as much sense as a goose, we will stay in formation with those who are headed where we want to go.

When the lead goose gets tired, it rotates back into the formation and another goose flies at the point position.

Lesson: It pays to take turns doing the hard tasks.

The geese in formation honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.

Lesson: We need to make sure our honking from behind is encouraging—not something less helpful.

When a goose gets sick or wounded or shot down, two geese drop out of formation and follow to help and protect. They stay until the goose is either able to fly again or dies.

Lesson: If we have as much sense as geese, we'll stand by each other like that.

(A Lesson From the Geese appeared in Issue 97 of Merle W. Boos' Agricultural Notes from the ELCA)

 

SEMINAR 2 — BIBLICAL BROTHERHOOD AND SISTERHOOD

GOAL

To show the depth of Biblical brotherhood and sisterhood.

ORDER OF THE SEMINAR

  1. Opening prayer
  2. Praising the Lord
  3. The teaching and personal witness
  4. Small groups
  5. Concluding praises

COMMENTS ON THE ORDER

Participants are assigned to small groups as determined by the team members. The team should appoint someone to meet with any newcomers to give them an overview of the twelve seminars and fill them in on the first two seminars. It should be decided at the next team meeting whether any further newcomers can join the seminars after seminar 2. Any new inquirers should be contacted and informed accordingly. They may be asked to wait and attend the next series of seminars.

Because this seminar includes the most important teaching of the seminars, the team should make sure that anyone missing this seminar is given the teaching individually. If this is not done, the person should not continue with the seminars.

The small group leaders should check to make certain the members of their group are praying and reading the guidebook daily. The leaders should pray for healing from hurtful relationships, especially difficult family relationships. The leaders may suggest that the participants go to Confession in preparation for being prayed over the following week.

BIBLICAL REFERENCES FOR THE TEACHING

See the second week of the guidebook.

COMMENTS ON THE TEACHING

This is the most important teaching. Probably all the Scriptural references should be read and briefly commented on. The leaders should intercede before, during, and after this teaching so that the word will fall on good ground. Choose one of your best teachers to do this teaching. If the teacher can show the depth of Biblical Christian community, the need for all the other things taught in the coming weeks will be clear. Many participants will see no reason why a Christian community should be home-based, structured, or networked unless they realize the depth of Biblical brotherhood and sisterhood. Only when we understand the depth of Biblical brotherhood and sisterhood will we understand why those in Christian community should be striving to daily share their lives in Christ and why we must emphasize greatly the Holy Spirit in forming community. Pope John Paul II's teaching on "communio" in the supplement should be used to show the depth of our baptismal brotherhood and sisterhood.

SUPPLEMENT TO SEMINAR 2

Pope John Paul II's teaching on "Communio" is probably one of the best teachings ever on baptismal brotherhood and sisterhood. In Lay Members of Christ's Faithful People (18-20), the Pope teaches that our communion with other baptized believers is:

  1. a "mystery" (18).
  2. "a living and life-giving communion through which Christians no longer belong to themselves but are the Lord's very own, as the branches are one with the vine" (18).
  3. Trinitarian. The Trinity is the model, source, and means of our communion with God and other Christians (18).
  4. "present in the Word of God and in the Sacraments" (19).
  5. expressed above all by the image of the Church as the body of Christ (19). "The Church in Christ is a kind of sacrament, that is, a sign and instrument of intimate union with God and of the unity of all the human race" (19, Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, 1).
  6. "the integrating aspect, indeed the central content of the "mystery," or rather, the divine plan for the salvation of humanity (19).
  7. "organic," that is, "analogous to that of a living and functioning body" (20).
  8. able to transfer our perspective so that "every member of the lay faithful is seen in relation to the whole body," and not vice versa (20).
  9. "a gift, a great gift of the Holy Spirit to be gratefully accepted by the lay faithful, and at the same time to be lived with a deep sense of responsibility" (20).
  10. living "in a continual interaction with others, with a lively sense of fellowship" (20).

(If you need help applying the Pope's teachings to our baptismal brotherhood and sisterhood in Christ, you may borrow our half-hour video on "communio." Please refer to V-76.)

 

SEMINAR 3 — "CRUCIFIED TO THE WORLD" (Gal 6:14)

GOAL

To show we must leave behind the values and life-style of the world to be free to join Christian community.

ORDER OF THE SEMINAR

  1. Opening prayer
  2. Praising the Lord
  3. The teaching and personal witness
  4. Small groups with praying over the participants
  5. Concluding praises

COMMENTS ON THE ORDER

The small groups should have 5—10 minutes more in this seminar so that leaders can lay hands on the people in their group and pray for them to be crucified to the world. (For Catholics, after the celebration of Mass is the ideal context for this prayer Gal. 4:16). The leaders should have prayed this prayer for each other at their previous team meeting. If any participant is hesitant about receiving this prayer, he should not be prayed over. The group leader should meet with the person before the next seminar and discuss his concerns. The person should continue the seminars if it seems likely he'll receive this prayer within the next two weeks. Otherwise, he should not continue the seminars.

BIBLICAL REFERENCES FOR THE TEACHING

See the third week of the guidebook.

COMMENTS ON THE TEACHING

The participants in the seminars are not trying to go from no community into Christian community but from the community of the world into Christian community. They first need to be alienated from the ways of the world to be free to enter Christian community. Many Christians have chosen over a period of years the life-style and priorities of the world, so it takes a miracle for them to leave it, but the Lord will do this miracle.

The teacher of this seminar should begin and end the teaching with Galatians 6:14. The whole of the teaching should prepare the participants to be prayed over with the laying on of hands so that they become crucified to the world and the world to them. If the participants receive this prayer, their participation in Christian community is almost certain. If they do not receive this prayer, there is little hope for long-lasting Christian community.

There is usually much spiritual warfare surrounding this teaching and the praying of Galatians 6:14. The small group leaders should remain calm so as to be able to pray (1 Pt 4:7).

 

SEMINAR 4 — "THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME"

GOAL

To show that a home is the best context for Christian community.

ORDER OF THE SEMINAR

  1. Opening prayer
  2. Praising the Lord
  3. The teaching and personal witness
  4. Small groups
  5. Concluding praises

COMMENTS ON THE ORDER

Last week's prayer to be crucified to the world is so crucial to entering Christian community that the leader of the seminar should refer to it in the introduction to this seminar's teaching. Small group leaders may also mention the previous week's prayer. If someone has questions about the prayer, the group leader should meet with the participant later in the week.

In regard to this week's seminar, some participants may need healing for hurts received in the context of the home. Small group leaders should begin to minister healing as soon as possible so as to have sufficient time.

BIBLICAL REFERENCES

See the fourth week of the guidebook.

COMMENTS ON THE TEACHING

If the leader of the second seminar communicated the depth of brotherhood and sisterhood in the Bible, this seminar's teaching will be an almost obvious conclusion. However, because the home is being de-emphasized, ignored, and even destroyed in our society, some participants may struggle to accept this. Copies of a more detailed teaching on home-based community in the Bible can be passed out as a supplement to this seminar's teaching (see the 1st Supplement to Seminar 4). The second supplement can also help the teacher organize his thoughts.

1st SUPPLEMENT TO SEMINAR 4

HOME-BASED COMMUNITIES IN THE BIBLE

The saying: "There's no place like home," is one of the basic principles of God's word and plan of salvation. In the Old Testament, the home and the Temple were the most important places of worship and celebration. The Passover, the greatest of all the Israelite celebrations, was held in homes. Jesus made the home not only a center for worship but His base for evangelization. He told His apostles: "Look for a worthy person in every town or village you come to and stay with him until you leave. As you enter his home bless it" (Mt 10:11-12). After Pentecost, the early Church met in their homes daily for the breaking of the bread (the Eucharist) and shared meals (Acts 2:46). This resulted in the manifestation of signs and wonders, break-throughs in economic sharing, and wildfire evangelism. "Day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved" (Acts 2:47). All the churches for the first 300 years of church history were homes. Saul persecuted the church by breaking up these home-meetings, dragging men and women out of house after house, and throwing them into jail (Acts 8:3). Peter was saved from execution through an all-night prayer-vigil at the home of Mary, John Mark's mother (Acts 12:12). Lydia, the first convert of the Western world, made her home a church (Acts 16:15, 40). Priscilla and Aquila had the most famous home-based community in history. They strengthened Paul to return to full-time ministry (Acts 18:2-5), converted Apollos, and empowered him to minister in the Spirit (Acts 18:26). All the churches of the Gentiles owed a debt of gratitude to Priscilla and Aquila and the congregation that met in their house (Rm 16:4-5). Other notable home-based communities were those of Nymphas (Col 4:15), Titus Justus (Acts 18:7), Gaius (Rm 16:23), and Philemon (Phlm 2). Throughout the New Testament the home-based community is depicted as a training ground for leadership in the early church (1 Tm 3: 5, 12).

2nd SUPPLEMENT TO SEMINAR 4

WHY HOME-BASED COMMUNITY?

  1. A home provides a family setting (Acts 2:46). The family is the basic cell of the body of Christ.
  2. A home-based community is better integrated into everyday life and into the neighborhood.
  3. The home fosters the right size for growing in brotherhood and sisterhood (i.e., about twelve).
  4. The home is the base for evangelization and ministry (Mt 10:11f).
  5. A community based in a home does not require the super-structure of a large centralized covenant community.

 

SEMINAR 5 — EVANGELIZATION

GOAL

To help the participants see that home-based communities are the ideal context in which to evangelize and that these communities will branch off and thereby multiply.

ORDER OF THE SEMINAR

  1. Opening prayer
  2. Praising the Lord
  3. The teaching and personal witness
  4. Small groups
  5. Concluding prayers

COMMENTS ON THE ORDER

The worship leader should expect the group to praise the Lord longer and more enthusiastically as the seminars proceed.

BIBLICAL REFERENCES FOR THE TEACHING

See the fifth week of the guidebook.

COMMENTS ON THE TEACHING

Because of the depth of the relationships in home-based communities, some people may expect these communities never to change in membership. But the Lord will give the community growth and then send forth some of its members to branch off and form new communities. The community will divide and multiply as a biological cell does. It is better to think of the communities as branching off. This concept expresses change and growth without implying total separation from the "mother" community.

The two supplements can be used to further develop this teaching. The first supplement quotes official Roman Catholic Church documents concerning extended families, home-based communities, and evangelization. The second supplement lists prime groups which the members of the community should evangelize.

1st SUPPLEMENT TO SEMINAR 5

THE FAMILY, HOME-BASED COMMUNITIES, AND EVANGELIZATION

"At different moments in the Church's history and also in the Second Vatican Council, the family has well deserved the beautiful name of 'domestic Church.' This means that there should be found in every Christian family the various aspects of the entire Church. Furthermore, the family, like the Church, ought to be a place where the Gospel is transmitted and from which the Gospel radiates.

In a family which is conscious of this mission, all the members evangelize and are evangelized ... And such a family becomes the evangelizer of many other families, and of the neighborhood of which it forms part" (Pope Paul VI, On Evangelization, 71).

"The future of evangelization depends in great part on the Church of the home. This apostolic mission of the family is rooted in Baptism and receives from the grace of the sacrament of marriage new strength to transmit the faith, to sanctify and transform our present society according to God's plan" (Pope John Paul II, The Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World, 52).

"Thus, these communities become a means of evangelization and of the initial proclamation of the Gospel, and a source of new ministries" (Pope John Paul II, Mission of the Redeemer, 51).

2nd SUPPLEMENT TO SEMINAR 5

GROUPS TO FOCUS ON IN EVANGELIZATION

The evangelization stemming from your home should focus on four groups of people:

  1. blood relatives (Andrew told his brother Simon Peter about Jesus Jn 1:41.)
  2. those with whom you have things in common (The first followers of Jesus were all Jews.)
  3. neighbors ("Philip was from Bethsaida, the same town as Andrew and Peter" Jn 1:44.)
  4. co-workers (One-third of the 12 apostles were fishermen.)

Review these four categories, pray, and make a list of people whom you are committing to pray for daily and invite them to share in your community.

 

SEMINAR 6 — SANCTITY AND SERVICE

GOAL

To demonstrate that both accelerated growth in holiness and long-term, life-changing ministry require participation in Christian community.

ORDER OF THE SEMINAR

  1. Opening prayer
  2. Praising the Lord
  3. The teaching and personal witness
  4. Small groups
  5. Concluding praises

COMMENTS ON THE ORDER

The group leaders should often remind the members of their group to read and pray the guidebook daily. This is crucial.

BIBLICAL REFERENCES FOR THE TEACHING

See the sixth week of the guidebook.

COMMENTS ON THE TEACHING

The two themes of sanctity and service can be separate seminars, but they are put together here in one seminar to emphasize that true holiness must result in service and that long-term, life-changing service is grounded in holiness (see Col 1:10). The community is both the context for growth in holiness and the base for service.

The teacher should consider having participants give brief, personal witnesses of their growth in holiness. Although a home-based community may not immediately develop its corporate service, the members should be considering a corporate ministry and taking steps in this direction. The supplement quoting Vatican II on the Laity, 11, can be helpful. These ministries suggested for extended families can also apply to home-based communities.

SUPPLEMENT TO SEMINAR 6

MINISTRIES FOR COMMUNITIES

"The family has received from God its mission to be the first and vital cell of society. It will fulfill this mission if it shows itself to be the domestic sanctuary of the Church through the mutual affection of its members and the common prayer they offer to God, if the whole family is caught up in the liturgical worship of the Church, and if it provides active hospitality and promotes justice and other good works for the service of all the brethren in need. Among the multiple activities of the family apostolate may be enumerated the following: the adoption of abandoned infants, hospitality to strangers, assistance in the operation of schools, helpful advice and material assistance for adolescents, help to engaged couples in preparing themselves better for marriage, catechetical work, support of married couples and families involved in material and moral crises, help for the aged not only by providing them with the necessities of life but also by obtaining for them a fair share of the benefits of economic progress" (Vatican II, Laity, 11).

"It can help them achieve the goals of their apostolate more easily if families organize themselves into groups" (Vatican II, Laity, 11).

 

SEMINAR 7 — SPIRITUAL GIFTS IN THE HOME MEETING

GOAL

To show how each community member can use a variety of spiritual gifts in the community meeting.

ORDER OF THE SEMINAR

  1. Opening prayer
  2. Praising the Lord
  3. The teaching and personal witness
  4. Small groups
  5. Concluding praises

COMMENTS ON THE ORDER

The format of these seminars can begin to show how the gifts of the Spirit are to be used in the community meetings.

BIBLICAL REFERENCES FOR THE TEACHING

See the seventh week of the guidebook.

COMMENTS ON THE TEACHING

The Lord does not tell us in one place in the Bible how the New Testament communities conducted their home meetings. This must be pieced together from several Biblical references. The supplement can help us apply these Scriptures to the home meeting.

SUPPLEMENT FOR SEMINAR 7

THE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT IN COMMUNITY MEETINGS

Home-based communities should meet formally about every two weeks.

This meeting should be a catalyst motivating an increased sharing of daily life from the community members The members of the community relate with each other frequently, even daily, but there needs to be a set time for the whole community to get together. At this gathering, the gifts of the Holy Spirit should be manifested in power. There are four parts to the meeting:

1. PRAISE — The fruitfulness of the meeting depends primarily on having a good start. In the opening prayer, we ask the Holy Spirit to come to us and pray for freedom from the evil one. We begin to thank and praise God in our native language (Ps 100). We can then sing praises to the Lord, but most importantly we should pray and sing in tongues. It's very important to enter deeply into God's presence, but this is usually impossible without long, the gift of tongues is a great help in sustaining our praise to God.

2. BIBLE TEACHING — The foundation for all Christian communities and ministries is the word of God (Mt 7:24). His word should be the center of attention when we gather. The Lord will give one or more members of the community the supernatural gift of teaching (1 Tm 3:2). It is important to accept this gift. The teacher should not primarily be a discussion-leader or facilitator. He or she must teach in the power of the Spirit. This should be a live experience. Audio or video tapes of even the best teachers should not be used for more than a few minutes during the meeting. CD's and tapes can be good for personal use but not for the community meeting.

3. PERSONAL MINISTRY — Although the gifts of tongues and teaching are the most important in the community meeting, many other gifts of the Spirit need to be used. Each person should put his or her gifts at the service of the community (1 Pt 4:10). Leaders should view the community as a body or team and try to lead all to make their unique contribution.

Each person should have the opportunity to receive ministry for his or her personal needs. Sometimes the community must form small groups to provide this personal attention. Usually we gather around the individual to lay hands on them. At this time the Lord may bring forth prophecy, healing, intercession, encouragement, wisdom, and other gifts of the Spirit.

4. PRAISE — The meeting concludes as it began with praise of God in various ways, especially in tongues. The final and lasting impression of the meeting should be praise.

This four-part structure is very flexible. The meeting can last from thirty minutes to two hours. Every meeting will be unique. At one meeting, we may praise for a half hour, have a ten-minute Bible study, ten minutes of personal ministry, and five minutes of praise. At another meeting, we could have ten minutes of praise, forty minutes of Bible study, thirty minutes of personal ministry, and five minutes of praise. Great variety is possible within this structure. It is ideal to begin the meeting with morning prayer or evening prayer. from the Liturgy of the Hours. The following are criteria of a good community meeting:

  1. Was God praised?
  2. Was His word proclaimed?
  3. Were several gifts of the Spirit manifested?
  4. Did each person participate by using his or her spiritual gifts?
  5. Was each person given personal attention and ministry?
  6. Did the meeting spin off a better sharing of community life. When we have a well conducted meeting with good participation the Lord will usually work through the meeting to inspire the community members to share together many aspects of daily life.

After the meeting, there can be an open-ended time of fellowship. We can also use our gifts to serve each other in this context. The fellowship should never precede or be part of the meeting. But, in its proper place, it can be a very important time when the Lord can build community.

 

SEMINAR 8 — EVERYDAY-LIFE IN A HOME-BASED COMMUNITY

GOAL

To show that Christian community is sharing everyday-life and not just meetings and activities.

(The meeting every two weeks is such a valuable tool in building community that some community members almost identify the meeting with the community. This seminar should help prevent this from happening and encourage the participants to see that Christian community cannot be scheduled but is the result of obeying the daily callings of the Spirit.)

ORDER OF THE SEMINAR

  1. Opening prayer
  2. Praising the Lord
  3. The teaching and personal witness
  4. Small groups
  5. Concluding praises

COMMENTS ON THE ORDER

The small group leaders should mention to the members of their group the following week's prayer based on Acts 2:42.

BIBLICAL REFERENCES FOR THE TEACHING

See the eighth week of the guidebook.

COMMENTS ON THE TEACHING

As with the previous seminar, the Church through the Bible does not tell us in one place about the everyday-life of the early Church communities. The supplement can help us integrate the Scriptures into a realistic picture of everyday community-life.

SUPPLEMENT TO SEMINAR 8

KEYS TO DAILY SHARING IN A HOME-BASED COMMUNITY

The life of a home-based community is not a formal meeting every week or two. While a meeting is a necessary focal point, we should live and grow in Christian community on a daily basis. The following circumstances will promote daily community life:

1. SUNDAY

We should make the most of Sunday. It should be truly the first day of the week, the center our attention and an essential mark of their identity as Christians. Many communities have their formal meetings on Saturday evening or Sunday. If possible, members of the community should worship together on Sunday. At least we should try to get together with some community members on Sunday.

2. MEALS

Biblically, meals are holy times. We should try to eat together more often. Two families can take turns inviting each other for supper. Some of the men may have breakfast together each week; some of the women share lunch. "With exultant and sincere hearts they took their meals in common" (Acts 2:46).

3. OPEN HOUSE

In order for our daily lives to be transformed in community, we need a home that is almost always open, where we can drop in and find someone there. Good communication is important in home-based communities and is facilitated by having a communication-center where we can "get through" and get the word out. If at least one person in the community is usually at home, he or she can be that communication-center. This allows us to be up-to-date with the current needs in our brothers' and sisters' lives, so that we can intercede for and serve one another.

4. THE EUCHARIST

The members of a Christian community are united as brother and sisters through baptism. Some of the members are bonded through matrimony. This unity can be strengthened through Mass and Communion. If at least some of the community could go to Mass and Communion together daily or as often as possible, their growth in Christian love will be greatly accelerated.

 

SEMINAR 9 — PREPARING TO JOIN A COMMUNITY

GOAL

To show that a few basic agreements are necessary to focus and make practical our baptismal covenant our brothers and sisters in Christian community.

ORDER OF THE SEMINAR

  1. Opening prayer
  2. Praising the Lord
  3. The teaching and personal witness
  4. Small groups with praying over the participants
  5. Concluding praises

COMMENTS ON THE ORDER

The small groups will need an extra 5-10 minutes so that the leaders can lay hands on the people in their group, and pray for them to be open to join a community in another month. They should use Acts 2:42 as the Biblical basis for this prayer. For Catholics, the celebration of Mass is the ideal context in which to pray in preparing to join a community. The leaders should speak individually to the members of their groups and ask if they have any questions about joining a community in the next month.

Prayers for healing often should precede the prayer in preparation for joining a community. Most people have been hurt and are therefore afraid of deep, Christian relationships. Because this ninth seminar is so important, the leaders should ask several people to intercede before, during, and after this seminar.

BIBLICAL REFERENCES FOR THE TEACHING

See the ninth week of the guidebook.

COMMENTS ON THE TEACHING

Focusing and making practical our baptismal covenant is a logical implication of the depth of Christian community taught in the second seminar. The teacher should review some of the Scriptures from the second seminar. He should give examples of basic agreements made among the members of communities. (See the supplement for further details.)

SUPPLEMENT TO SEMINAR 9

WHY BASIC AGREEMENTS?

  1. To live out our baptismal covenant in reality (1 Jn 3:18).
  2. The depth of Biblical community demands some basic agreements (Jn 17:21).
  3. For discipline (Heb 12:5). When we formally commit ourselves to one another, we enter the school of unconditional love.
  4. For affirmation of those in the community. Spending time with them is a priority.
  5. For clarity in knowing whom we're responsible to and what we're responsible for.
  6. For stability. When we make some basic agreements in the communities, members will not be prone to drop out of the community.

EXAMPLES OF BASIC AGREEMENTS

At first, the agreements among those in a community should be minimal and measurable. Since agreements are usually written and signed in our culture, we should do this when we make community agreements. The following basic agreements are customary in small communities:

  1. To pray daily for the other members of the community.
  2. To celebrate Mass with the community regularly.
  3. To attend the community's meetings.
  4. To share meals with the community regularly.
  5. To share in the community's ministry.
  6. To celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation monthly.
  7. To participate in the community's fast days.

 

SEMINAR 10 — THE LARGER CHURCH AND THE HOME-BASED COMMUNITY

GOALS

To show that the home-based community is the building block for the local church.

To show how the home-based community and the local church must interrelate.

ORDER OF THE SEMINAR

  1. Opening prayer
  2. Praising the Lord
  3. The teaching and personal witness
  4. Small groups
  5. Concluding praises

COMMENTS ON THE ORDER

Small group leaders should remind those in their groups to persevere in praying and studying the guidebook daily.

BIBLICAL REFERENCES FOR THE TEACHING

See the tenth week of the guidebook.

COMMENTS ON THE TEACHING

The most helpful resource on this subject is a section from Pope Paul VI's document on evangelization. This should be made available and incorporated into the teaching. (See the supplement.)

SUPPLEMENT TO SEMINAR 10

GUIDELINES FOR THE HOME-BASED COMMUNITY

Communautes de base (basic communities) "will be a hope for the universal Church to the extent:

  • that they seek their nourishment in the word of God and do not allow themselves to be ensnared by political polarization or fashionable ideologies, which are ready to exploit their immense human potential;
  • that they avoid the ever present temptation of systematic protest and a hypercritical attitude, under the pretext of authenticity and a spirit of collaboration;
  • that they remain firmly attached to the local Church in which they are inserted, and to the universal Church, thus avoiding the very real danger of becoming isolated within themselves, then of believing themselves to be the only authentic Church of Christ, and hence of condemning the other ecclesial communities;
  • that they maintain a sincere communion with the pastors whom the Lord gives to His Church, and with the magisterium which the Spirit of Christ has entrusted to these pastors;
  • that they never look on themselves as the sole beneficiaries or sole agents of evangelization — or even the only depositories of the Gospel — but, being aware that the Church is much more vast and diversified, accept the fact that this Church becomes incarnate in other ways than through themselves;
  • that they constantly grow in missionary consciousness, fervor, commitment and zeal;
  • that they show themselves to be universal in all things and never sectarian.

"On these conditions, which are certainly demanding but also uplifting, the ecclesial communautes de base will correspond to their most fundamental vocation; as hearers of the Gospel which is proclaimed to them and privileged beneficiaries of evangelization, they will soon become proclaimers of the Gospel themselves" (Pope Paul VI, On Evangelization, 58).

"These communities decentralize and organize the parish community, to which they always remain united" (Pope John Paul II, Mission of the Redeemer, 51).

"Because the Church is communion, the new 'basic communities,' if they truly live in unity with the Church, are a true expression of communion and a means for the construction of a more profound communion. They are thus cause for great hope for the life of the Church" (Pope John Paul II, Mission of the Redeemer, 51).

"So that all parishes of this kind may be truly communities of Christians, local ecclesial authorities ought to foster the following: a) adaptation of parish structures according to the full flexibility granted by canon law, especially in promoting participation of the lay faithful in pastoral responsibilities; b) small, basic or so-called 'living' communities, where the faithful can communicate the word of God and express it in service and love to one another. These communities are true expressions of ecclesial communion and centers of evangelization, in communion with their pastors" (Pope John Paul II, The Lay Members of Christ's Faithful People, 26).

"Internal to the parish, especially if vast and territorially extensive, small Church communities, where present, can be notable help in the formation of Christians by providing a consciousness and an experience of ecclesial communion and mission which are more extensive and incisive" (Pope John Paul II, The Lay Members of Christ's Faithful People, 61).

 

SEMINAR 11 — NETWORKING HOME-BASED COMMUNITIES

GOAL

To help the participants see the wisdom of networking home-based communities, for communities, like individuals, also need community.

ORDER OF THE SEMINAR

  1. Opening prayer
  2. Praising the Lord
  3. The teaching and personal witness
  4. Small groups
  5. Concluding praises

COMMENTS ON THE ORDER

The leaders should mention to the members of the small groups next week's special prayer based on John 2:5.

BIBLICAL REFERENCES FOR THE TEACHING

See the eleventh week of the guidebook.

COMMENTS ON THE TEACHING

Home-based communities are not another program but a way of life. They need to be networked for their own protection and to insure long-term stability (see the 1st supplement of this seminar).

Seeing the need for networking home-based communities depends on two insights. We must recognize how challenging deep Christian relationships are and how weak is our human nature. We definitely need help from the Lord as He works through other HBCs.

The difficulty with this teaching on networking is that home-based communities usually have no network available. Therefore, Presentation Communities provides BASIC, a national network for home-based communities. See the second supplement to this seminar and contact us for more information.

This teaching should end with a clear statement that each participant, if they have not already stated their intentions, will be contacted in the next week about joining a home-based community.

1st SUPPLEMENT TO SEMINAR 11

WHY NETWORK HOME-BASED COVENANT COMMUNITIES?

BIBLE

1. Biblical model of 72 or 120 disciples (Lk 10:1; Acts 1:15).

EVANGELIZATION

2. Greater evangelistic impact if communities are networked (Jn 17:21).

MINISTRY

3. Greater outreach in ministry when several HBCs link together.

FORMATION (GROWTH)

4. To learn from other communities and receive support (Rm 16:4).

LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT

5. Leadership training provided by the leaders of the network.

SPIRITUAL WARFARE

6. Protection from making bad decisions (Prv 11:14).
7. Recourse for those in disagreement (Acts 15:2).
8. Defense against isolation (see supplement to seminar 10, Pope Paul VI, On Evangelization, 58).
9. Assistance in appointing and changing leaders (see Ti 1:5).
10. Better protection against the influences of secular humanism.

2nd SUPPLEMENT TO SEMINAR 11

BASIC COMMUNITIES (BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN CHRIST)

What is BASIC?

A national network of home-based Christian communities.

Who are in BASIC?

Committed Spirit-filled Christians who are willing to lay down their lives for each other in a real way (1 Jn 3:16-18).

Why are these communities networked?

For more powerful evangelization, better leadership development, and greater strength in spiritual warfare.

Will these communities interfere with my local church?

No, the relationship between these communities and the local church will conform to the guidelines expressed in Pope Paul VI's document on evangelization.

How can I find out more?

Write or call:

Presentation Ministries
3230 McHenry Ave
Cincinnati, OH 45211
(513) 662-JESU

 

SEMINAR 12 — THE LEADERSHIP OF THE HOME-BASED COMMUNITY

GOAL

To prepare leaders for the home-based communities which will be formed when the seminars conclude.

ORDER OF THE SEMINAR

  1. Opening prayer
  2. Praising the Lord
  3. The teaching and personal witness
  4. Small groups with praying over the participants
  5. Concluding praises

COMMENTS ON THE ORDER

Because this is the final seminar, it is even more important for the participants to be strong in praise, deep in love, and committed to obey the Lord. The leaders should encourage a spirit of thanksgiving to the Lord, for the leaders, and for every participant for the privilege of sharing these twelve seminars.

For the third time in the seminars, the leaders of the small groups lay hands on and pray over the people of their groups. This prayer is based on John 2:5 and simply asks that each one do God's will. Ten minutes extra should be allowed for this prayer. For Catholics, the prayer is ideally placed in the context of the Mass, if so, a longer time must be allotted for this seminar.

Within a week the leaders of each small group should meet personally with their members to discuss joining a home-based community. The participants should pray about making a three-month commitment. After the three months, they can renew their commitment for a longer period of time.

BIBLICAL REFERENCES FOR THE TEACHING

See the twelfth week of the guidebook.

COMMENTS ON THE TEACHING

If we have everything but the leaders of the HBCs, we have nothing for the future. If we have nothing but the leaders, the Lord will provide everything else. The Lord will equip His leaders with everything necessary to form and develop Christian community. Forming HBCs hinges on raising up and empowering leaders.

Presentation Communities (or whoever is networking your home-based community) should work with the seminar-team in the process of proposing leaders to the participants of the seminar. It's very important to recognize the leaders whom the Lord has chosen for the first three months of the home-based communities. These leaders are usually members of the team, although some participants in the seminars may be raised up as leaders.

If possible, there should be twice as many people in leadership than what seems necessary, although one person should be the main leader and have the final word. This additional leadership makes the community stronger and prepares it to branch off and multiply.

The leaders of the small groups should directly ask the members of their groups if they will accept as leaders those proposed by the team for the first three months of the home-based community. If anyone has any difficulties, the leader of the small group should address these by meeting with the person later in the week. If there is not unanimous or almost unanimous acceptance of the proposed leaders, the team should consider other leaders for the first three months.

In the beginning of the teaching, the proposed leaders for the home-based communities should be asked to stand up and introduce themselves. This helps the participants realize that these seminars are actually going to result in the formation of home-based communities. This will help them prepare for the decision that they will make about becoming members of a home-based community.

 

CONCLUDING TEAM MEETING

GOAL

To determine the members of the home-based communities for three months.

ORDER OF THE MEETING

  1. Prayer and praise
  2. Prophecy
  3. Intercessions and petitions for each participant by name
  4. Determining the members of the home-based communities
  5. Concluding praises

COMMENTS ON THE ORDER

Those who will be leading the home-based communities should discern the membership of these communities. They should choose their members based on the members' openness to and availability for sharing daily Christian life with the other members of the community. For example, people should probably not join a community if they have very little opportunity of seeing the other members outside the formal meeting time. If both spouses are not joining a community together, one spouse may participate in the life of the community, but should not make a formal commitment to the community.
The leaders of the communities should resolve as many details as possible as far as scheduling the home meetings and networking with other communities. They should gather the members of their home-based communities within two weeks after the last seminar. At that meeting, they should make a few simple agreements to further the sharing of daily Christian life by the brothers and sisters of the HBC. All agreements should last three months, and then be renewed for three, six, or twelve months. The networking group can assist with the making of these agreements.
The development of the home-based communities depends primarily on the leaders following the lead of the Spirit (Gal 5:25). Although the community leaders may feel inadequate, they have reason to be confident. The Lord continues to raise up hundreds of thousands of home-based communities throughout the world. "He Who calls us is trustworthy, therefore He will do it" (1 Thes 5:24). Alleluia!

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES FROM PRESENTATION MINISTRIES

VHS Video tapes

Each of these three tapes contain four 30-minute teachings.

V-40A

  1. Christian Community
  2. Biblical Brotherhood & Sisterhood
  3. Crucified To The World
  4. There's No Place Like Home

V-40B

  1. Evangelization
  2. Sanctity & Service
  3. Spiritual Gifts In The Home Meeting
  4. Everyday Life In The Home-based Community

V-40C

  1. Covenanting
  2. The Larger Church & The Home-based Community
  3. Leadership In The Home-based Community
  4. Networking Communities

V-76 - Program #2 is entitled: "What Is Christian Community?"

Audio Tapes

BI91-01 Christian Community in the Acts of the Apostles

BI91-12 Why Covenant?

BI91-13 Leadership in the Home-based Community

 

Nihil obstat: Rev. Robert J. Buschmiller, July 19, 1991
Imprimatur: † Most Rev. James H. Garland, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, July 23, 1991

Excerpts from Scripture are taken from The New American Bible, copyright 1970 by the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C., and are used by permission of the copyright holder. All rights reserved.

The Nihil obstat and Imprimatur are a declaration that a book or pamphlet is considered to be free from doctrinal or moral error. It is not implied that those who have granted the Nihil obstat and Imprimatur agree with the contents, opinions, or statements expressed.

The cost of this publication is a donation. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit what amount He would have you contribute.

Copyright 2014 Presentation Ministries
3230 McHenry
Cincinnati, Ohio 45211
Phone: (513) 662-5378
www.presentationministries.com

 

 
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