Commit to attend all five sessions. The more you are able to attend, the more you will benefit and the more it will maintain the continuity of the group. Give yourself permission to refuse any other engagements or invitations that might arise at your regular study time.
Begin each study with a short time of silence to help centre the group and recall God’s presence, and then pray together the prayer at the beginning of each session.
Commit to sharing honestly and to listening without judgement or trying to ‘fix’ someone else’s life for them. Seek to create a safe atmosphere in which people feel able to share openly. Remember that none of us has all the answers; our aim is to be real, authentic and whole – not perfect!
Acknowledge that everyone’s experience of life and faith is unique and valuable. Seek to accept one another just as we truly are, just as God accepts each one of us.
Give space for everyone to speak, although no-one need feel obliged to speak. If you are someone who tends to share a lot, remember to leave space for others who find it harder to share.
Read the material in advance and spend time allowing the content to sink in – not necessarily needing to find the answers. Note that some of the articles are printed in the original language of the contributor as well as in English translation. This in itself reflects something of the diversity of language within the Anglican Communion. If a member of your group speaks that language please use both languages in the study.
Remember that religious and theological words can mean different things to different people. Share your perspective and allow others to hold different perspectives.
Close each session in prayer. Pray the Lord’s Prayer aloud, inviting each person to choose their preferred language. For some groups this will make for something of a cacophony of language (like in Acts 2); celebrate this diversity, it is reflected across the Anglican Communion! All prayers used in this study course are from the USPG book ‘Praying with the World Church’, and may also be found at www.uspg.org.uk/pray.