If you’ve been around here any length of time, then you know I love a good book club. I think books (fiction and non-fiction) can help us understand ourselves and others better. When we understand each other, we can establish stronger relationships with fellow parishioners, neighbors, friends, and the Lord. That’s why I’m so excited to share with you about the New Hope Book Club from OSV.
The above is a small selection of what our team has curated for your parish with additional categories for Women’s Groups, Men’s Groups, and Bible Studies. Here’s a pamphlet of books and categories!
Now that you have a book picked out, it’s time to decide how you’ll conduct your book club. I want to present a few options for you, including virtual, in person, and online chat groups that might work.
In Person: You could host your book clubs in person, outside, socially distant. It’s almost summer, so this might be an option. You might even have some families who live in the same neighborhood who might want to meet together. It’s an option.
Small Virtual Groups: You can have people sign up for a day of the week and time with a system like SignUp Genius or SignUp.com and have each small group leader set up their own virtual meeting. Zoom or even Google Meet are great options. This very closely mimics having people sign up for an in-person group, but meeting virtually instead of in-person. They can also go from virtual to in-person and back again as necessary.
Large Group with Small Group Breakouts: One of my favorite online meeting experiences has been a large group meeting with breakout rooms. You can accomplish this on Zoom with a standard meeting account (also with the free meeting account if your meeting is less than 40 minutes). You’ll begin your meeting with a large group discussion or presentation, then split your participants into small groups to have a discussion. One of the hard things about virtual meetings is not everyone being able to participate to share, so that’s why I love the breakout room options. I found this video that explains the feature, including how to set it up.
Facebook Groups: A Facebook group is a great way for you to create some discussion virtually without having a meeting or a meeting time. Everyone gets a book, you create a private Facebook Group (meaning people have to request to join) and have a few leaders pose questions for discussion. Then your participants can use the comments to chat. You can do a Facebook Live with your group where you have someone leading the discussion taking questions or comments in the chat.
Hosting small groups is a great way to make big parishes, smaller communities where we can get to know people and develop relationships with a solid foundation in the faith. I hope you’ll plan to do some book clubs this coming fall and winter as a way to keep parishioners connected to one another and the parish.
If navigating the online signups or the digital meetings I’ve described sounds overwhelming, I’d encourage you to ask some parishioners to help who might not typically be involved. These past 12 weeks have pushed many people into the virtual working and remote learning space in new ways, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of experts in your virtual pews right now!