Sample Small Group Topics

What follows are some samples of small group topics. Most of these have been developed by the Rev. Calvin Dame by the small groups in his congregation, UUCCA (UU Community Church, Augusta)

More topics
   Created by UUCPA members
   First Unitarian Society of Newton
   San Jose UU Church

Number 1: Community

Topic: "A community is made up of people who enjoy and are ready to participate in mutual helpfulness. Not that they are busybodies always prying into one another's affairs. They are not conscious "do-gooders," but they know how to be helpful without making a big thing of it." -- Harry Meserve

Questions: How do we want to be in community? How do we want others to be? What do we experience as helpful? What do you need to know about me; and what do I need to know about you?

Number 2: Timelines

Topic/Activity: Create a religious time line. Divide a line into sections, one for each of your decades of life, plus the decades you expect to live. Draw pictures for each decade representing how you understood God or felt about religion during each of those periods, plus how you hope to experience your religious life in the decades to come (20 minutes). Then share. (Materials: appropriate paper & crayons or colored pencils)

Number 3: Worship

Discussion: This session is on the experience of worship. These are questions you might use:

  • What kinds of worship can you think of? (newsprint might be helpful)
  • What is worship for?
  • Share an experience of memorable or moving worship.
  • What makes worship meaningful for you?
  • How do you prepare yourself for worship?

Number 4: The Sense of Gratitude

Topic: There are things in life that just sort of hang there: like free floating guilt and angst. But, what about a sense of gratitude? Doesn't that well up at times and demand expression? A blessing, a song of praise, a shout, a loud HURRAH! I'm talking about a sense of gratitude that goes beyond just what another person does for you. I'm talking about the fiery sunset, the smell of the rose, the very existence of the artichoke and the giraffe. It should take our breath away. And our breath, oxygen - yes, thank you!

Questions we should answer:

  • How do you cultivate a thankful heart?
  • How do we stay aware of that in Life which is sheer blessing?

Number 5: Living Through Loss

Discussion: Ask the members of your group to share an experience of loss that has been a significant part of their life journey.

Some questions to ask:

  • Was your journey a meandering route or a straight line?
  • Where were the dark places?
  • Where were you lonely?
  • Where did you have a companion?
  • How has it shaped you? Your faith?
  • What strength has it given you?

Number 6: Forgiveness

"We cannot let the world's wounds destroy our spirits. We cannot let our hurts and betrayals destroy our capacity for growth and caring. That there will be judgment and, perhaps, justice, is necessary. That the violence be confronted and, if possible, contained is essential. But, most important is our capacity to nurture a loving heart, to affirm and not to curse, to forgive even when we cannot completely forget." - Glenn H. Turner

Some Questions to ask:

  • How do you respond when you are wounded?
  • How do you feel toward the person who has hurt you?
  • How long do you carry your anger and how does that re-sentment (feeling it again and again) continue to hurt you?
  • Can you forgive and break the cycle? Can you understand the other?
  • What does forgiveness mean to you?

Number 7: Living Simply

Topic/Activity (materials: pen and paper) Many of us would like to live more simply, to simplify our lives. But not many of us are likely to follow Thoreau's example and build a cabin in the woods. Take ten minutes to answer these questions: What are the demands in my life that keep me too busy? What needs or forces in me keep me busy? What do I push aside? What would I be willing to give up? Take time to share. Ending question: What one thing are you willing to try in the next weeks (until the group meets again) that will move your life closer to your goals for a simpler and more meaningful life?

Number 8: What We Love

Topic/Activity: Mary Oliver says, "You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves." What do you love? Tell a story of when you first encountered one of your loves. How does it feel: doing or being with the thing you love? How do you feel when your are apart from it or unable to do it? Are you at peace with the things that you love to do or be? What would you have to do to "let" yourself love what you love? How could we help each other achieve that?

Number 9: Learning from Failure

Topic: "Whether or not we soften the sense of "sinners" to what Eugene Kennedy calls "mistake makers", the fact remains we are not and never can be perfect. This is not to say we are condemned to making the same mistakes over and over. If we learn from past mistakes, we shall have the joy and sorrow of making some entirely new ones and learning from them as well. That is learning. That is growth. That is what being alive is all about." - Glenn Turner

Possible Questions:

  • What have we learned from our mistakes or our failures?
  • How do we make imperfection a wise teacher?

Number 10: Preparing for Christmas

  • What are you feeling as we move into another Christmas season?
  • What do you dread?
  • What do you look forward to?
  • What rituals keep you focused?
  • If your tradition is not Christian (i.e. being Jewish, Muslim....) how do you experience this season?



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