Sharing God’s Life – a five-session course for the Diocese of Winchester
Originally written as a Lent course, this material is suitable for groups at any time of year.
Click here for details of upcoming Rule of Life workshops.
Sharing God's Life
- Welcome to ‘Sharing God’s Life’, a five-session course for Christian groups, available here and fully downloadable.
- It’s designed to open up the Diocesan Rule of Life for adults at any stage on their Christian journey, so each person can create a simple Rule of Life during Lent.
- Printed copies of the ‘Sharing God’s Life’ leaflet are available from Old Alresford Place, Wolvesey and Bishop's House, Southampton – people will need one each.
- There’s plenty of general information, including some personal examples, on the Rule of Life page of the Diocesan website.
- For more details, please contact the Revd Sally Dakin, Diocesan Spirituality Adviser: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Session 1.Who am I? & Why am I here? (Identity and Vocation)
Session 2. Loving God & self, family & friends (Loving)
Session 3.Living God’s life together (Living)
Session 4.Serving in God’s world (Serving)
Session 5.YES to fruitfulness (A personal Rule of Life)
How the course works
- All the material for all the sessions is available to download from the Diocesan website. Besides the leaders’ notes for each session (available in both Word & pdf format), there is also a Participant’s Guide summarising the whole course (pdf), and various add-ons available as pdfs. If at all possible, groups will be able to watch the short downloadable animations, with optional soundtrack.
- The first session emphasises the importance of establishing who we are by God’s grace, and clarifying our individual calling as Jesus’ disciples. Without this foundation, a Rule of Life may be counteractive, tending towards legalism.
- The middle three sessions closely follow the content of the ‘Sharing God’s Life’ leaflet.
- The last session is more of a workshop, as people move towards their first commitment – which might involve committing as a group to a particular kind of Living or Serving. Again the emphasis is on supporting a growing Relationship with Christ, rather than a Rule of Life as an end in itself: hence the importance of reviewing our Rule regularly in order to ensure that it remains fit for purpose.
- If people are uncomfortable with the word ‘Rule’ (as in ‘Rules & Regulations’), the idea of a ‘Rhythm of Life’ may be more acceptable.
- The course isn’t strongly Lenten in character, and only the first session’s Scripture passage corresponds with the Lectionary (in Year B, it’s the Gospel for Lent 1).
- This course is both for existing groups and for specially-formed Lent groups. It could also work as a large-scale course in a church/hall, with participants seated café-style.
- If people already have a Rule of Life, participating in this course may offer an opportunity to revise it; their experience would be invaluable to the group.
- If groups participated in the 2015 Diocesan Lent course, ‘Called to Contemplative Action’, this would be useful background, but it’s not essential.
- There’s a Reading & Resource List available to download for those who’d like to go deeper.
How each session works
- Each session follows exactly the same format: WORSHIP/WELCOME/WORD/WORK/
WORSHIP, except that the first two components are reversed in Session 1.
- The WORSHIP suggestions take into account the fact that people may have a preference for Visual (Looking), Auditory (Listening) or Kinaesthetic (Doing) approaches.
- The WELCOME section generally involves first recapping on the previous session, then an opening round to encourage everyone to ‘check in’, then an overview of the current session.
- The WORD (Reflection) material incorporates specially-commissioned animations by local artist Matt Lawrence; these are designed to introduce the Bible passage. Groups are invited to engage with Scripture in various ways, recognising members’ varying preferences for what Jung described as Thinking (Head), Feeling (Heart), Sensation (Hands) & Intuition (Hunch). There is always a special colouring sheet, designed as a response to the text.
- The WORK (Action) section includes a memory verse option for the whole group, and ideas for Individuals and for Pairs/Threes.
Practicalities for leaders
- If you possibly can, meet around a table. This might mean relocating from the living room to the dining room, or even the kitchen. And supply lots of paper, pens & pencils. You will find that these two changes make a very significant difference to the relationships and learning in your group.
- If you can’t manage a table, give everyone books (or clipboards) to lean on.
- Bibles will also be useful, along with a concordance and perhaps a commentary or two.
- Everyone will need a copy of the Diocesan leaflet ‘Sharing God’s Life’, available from Old Alresford Place and Wolvesey.
- Lent is a good time to do something a bit different – especially if your group is well established, and perhaps a little set in your ways. So take the opportunity to be adventurous, and experiment where you can.
- There is a lot of downloadable material for group members; you are encouraged to print and photocopy generously. It may be possible to arrange for this to be done centrally, if you have a Church Office/administrator.
- If you have Wi-Fi in the place where you meet, you may be able to watch the video clips without the need to download – they are large files.
- When choosing material for your group, you will need to be very selective – and time-conscious. Ignore the material which you don’t think would work with your group, and try to ensure that you allow plenty of time for the practical application – Work – of what you discover about the Word. A session of about 90 minutes is envisaged, excluding refreshments.
- If you always work together as a whole group, try dividing into twos or threes for this Work section – or use the time to reflect alone, applying the material individually.