I was nervous as I sat in my chair and hovered over the ‘send’ button. The idea of running a book study for the book Divine Mercy for Moms had been a bit spontaneous, and I wasn’t certain the other moms I knew would jump at a chance to dive into reading about God’s mercy, or have the time. I hit ‘send.’ Two years later I find myself in the same situation with a new book: The Friendship Project.
What I didn’t realise two years ago is that when the Spirit inspires, the Spirit provides. I had a great response thanks to a couple friends who got the word out, and we were able to break open the book together, share our lives, and marvel in gratitude for all that God provides.
This time I’m working at preparing space for a few of us women to dig deep into what it means to have spiritual friendships. Emily Jaminet and Michele Faehnle have created another stellar book to help us grow in our spiritual lives: The Friendship Project. I’m excited to share the stories of saint friends and to reflect on how their example can shine a light for us, to help us walk the path to bringing each other closer to Jesus.
Having a perfect situation for running a book study exists to only a select few, I’ve come to believe. When I ran my study for the Divine Mercy for Moms book, it was in fact due to a friend recruiting people she knew that contributed to our numbers (there were 12 of us). I still do not have many friends who can commit to participating in the study, but I am confident that the few who can are ones whom God is calling to hear the message at this time.
I’m excited to see who will respond to the call this time!
5 Tips for a Successful Book Study
Make sure you include the Holy Spirit in your discernment of running a study! A simple prayer asking for guidance and direction helps us to realise that the success of a book study is all up to the Spirit. We are just tools in God’s hand, and we cannot measure the success according to God’s plans. Do not believe for an instant that having just one person in the book club with you is a failure! We are not responsible for how success looks to God — only God can create a truly successful situation, so let’s leave that worry up to the Spirit.
Decide how many people you feel comfortable running the study with, then decide whether you want to just ask friends or if you’d like to reach out and meet new people. Great ways of advertising are: parish bulletin, cork boards in the narthex of the church, your diocesan newsletter, notices in other parishes’ bulletins, social media — does your city or parish have a group on Facebook that you can post in?
3. Decide on a place
Is your group small enough to fit in a house? Will it be your house, or the house of a friend? When I ran the Divine Mercy for Moms book study, we rotated between hosting houses. If that’s not possible, does your church have a room you can commandeer for an hour a week? Or maybe it’s easier to meet at a coffee shop or restaurant.
4. Plan for hospitality in the form of snacks/beverages!
It truly doesn’t have to be much; even a pitcher of water, some apples or oranges! I know I’m always running late in mornings (even when we have appointments at 10 AM!), and having an option of refreshment helps to relieve some of the stress that builds up. Especially when there are kids around (I don’t think I could have a book study without kids around!), snacks often help them to maintain steady energy so that they don’t drop into tantrums (as much!) halfway through discussions of the book. When I ran the last book study, we took turns between hosting and providing snacks.
5. Use the amazing Friendship Project study resources!
I don’t believe it would have been as easily possible to have deep conversations if it hadn’t been for the work and preparation that Emily and Michele have done to help spur great discussions! They offer questions for reflection, they offer short videos (about 10 minutes long, one for each chapter), as well as a journal and other printable resources. They really help to prepare you as best as possible, and they are also reachable through their website for The Friendship Project, and on social media.
With all the support you receive from them, it’s hard not to dig deeper into what it means to have spiritual friendships. It’s all but a guarantee that you have what you need to grow in virtue and walk closer to Jesus.
Join me next month when I share how our group is growing as we discuss the spiritual friendships of the saints!
And don’t forget you can also join up with the virtual Book Club here at CatholicMom.com for The Friendship Project!
What tips do you have for running a great book study?
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Copyright 2017 Jane Korvemaker