Restructuring a parish into Small Christian Communities (SCC) is not a program for individual growth only, but a deliberate planning by the pastor, staff, and key lay leaders, for a parish where ordinary parishioners evangelize each other on a regular basis. SCC is a way of life rather than a program.
The basis for SCC is the conviction that for Christians, God is revealed in all human life formed by Church Scripture/Traditions. The Holy Spirit empowers people in communities to connect life and faith, and to evangelize each other in the process of the reflection.
How are they formed?
A small group (8-12) of people come together to share faith, value each other, build trust and develop a sense of belonging to Church. They support each other in a commitment to pray alone and together. Prayer being the art of listening and responding to God revealing God’s self, moment by moment, noticing and valuing God’s communication and one’s response in daily events.
Becoming Church the SCC continues to grow by learning the larger story and connecting with it by reflecting and comparing it with one’s own story. Focusing on the Sunday gospels, they reach out in service.
A SCC perhaps, after prayer, the most effective way in which spiritual renewal actually takes place in an individual’s life and then in the parish as a whole. It is somewhat difficult to describe since it is primarily an experience that must be shared. Each meeting is about an hour to two hours in length. Its purpose is to help the group reflect together on what it means to be invited by the Lord to be Christian, a follower of Jesus as it applies in the connection of family, parish, and neighborhood. It provides an opportunity to learn to make prayer a two-way conversation with God in which we not only talk to God, but more importantly, learn to listen to what God is saying to us through the Scripture.
We can be sure God is very present in the SCC and is rejoicing that we have come together in His name. After all, Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them.”
Each SCC is different from another because of the individuals in the group. However, we can make some generalizations about what they are not. They are not intended to be Bible study or discussion groups, charismatic or other types of prayer groups, although you wil certainly learn about the Bible, and prayer will fill the meetings.
What happens during a SCC gathering?
When a SCC comes togehter the members pray, read the Sunday Scriptures, reflect, and share faith using the materials and questions provided. Music, silence, prayer, the developing of an appropriate action response, and hospitality are all part of it. when all of this takes place, their relationship with the Lord, with each other, and with the community will deepen and grow. A genuine feeling of support and friendship emerge. No pressure is ever exerted on any member to share at a meeting. One speaks only if and when moved to speak through the grace of the Spirit.