Study Group Tips

  1. Have a structure to the meeting, but don't be welded to it. Go with the flow. Go with Spirit.
  2. Encourage sharing of experience(s) in practical application of the principles in the Course. The group should not be the facilitator’s theory on ACIM or all theory.
  3. Truly go by Holy Spirit in guiding the group discussion, readings, and response to questions.
  4. Encourage input from all participants and respect everyone's input. Embrace the philosophy: We are all teachers and students to one another.
  5. Do not use a study group as a format for debate! That only increases the sense of separation. Differences in interpretation should be accepted and discussed to help others better understand the Course.
  6. Keep the meeting one focused on love, sharing and being helpful to one another. Gratitude is also vitally important.
  7. Allow for silence in the group. The facilitator should not feel compelled to fill silent time with additional comments to keep the discussion going. Silence allows for more quiet attendees to speak up and it also allows for Holy Spirit to enter the group mind.
  8. For newcomers to established study groups, be sure to make them feel welcome. Do introductions and explain the group format. If the newcomer is also new to ACIM, then suggest they consider reading the Course in this order: The Preface (How It Came, What It Is, What is Says) and the Introduction. Then read the Clarification of Terms and the Manual for Teachers. (in the back of the book) This provides a good foundation of understanding for reading the Text.
  9. Most of all, when tapping into Holy Spirit to guide the meeting, one doesn’t have to worry. Relax, be spiritually confident and know from the ACIM prayer on page 28 of the text, "I donot have to worry about what to say or what to do, because He who sent me will direct me."

 

Sample Meeting Format
(1 ½ - 2 hours)

 

  1. Welcome, introductions for any new people, announcements for ACIM or spiritual events in the area that would be of interest to ACIM students. At this time, some people are already moved to share an experience they had with ACIM-an experiential situation. Some reminders to people before going into meditation are: *Quiet your mind. Leave whatever you were thinking about before you walked into here at the door. And leave whatever you are thinking you need to tend to when you depart tonight. Just be, and be fully present. Ask for guidance from Spirit in our sharing, caring and support of one another. Remember, we are teachers and students to one another. Take a deep breath. Breathe in Spirit. Breathe out ego, fear, doubt.
  2. Group reads in unison the prayer from Page 28 of the Text, "I'm here only to be truly helpful..." Then transition to a meditation time. It can be silent or with music. Conclude with ringing of a bell/gong/chime.
  3. Read from the ACIM Text. Each person’s reading is optional. If someone doesn’t want to read, they can say “pass.” Some groups use a recording of the ACIM text and participants just listen. With a small group, it works well to have each person read two paragraphs. With a larger group, one paragraph each suffices. Sentences or sections that are in italics can be read in unison. Discussion can occur at anytime. Some groups pause after a complete section, others pause during the reading or after each paragraph. More often than not, the answer to someone’s question is found in the next paragraph to be read or the next section.
  4. Allow time for clarification and sharing. Facilitate so all can share and no one person monopolizes the discussion. Remember to use "I" statements, not "You" statements. It should all be based on your personal experience. i.e. “For me, when I hear the word guilt, I think it means...."
  5. Allow 15 minutes at the end for review of one of the lessons in the Workbook. Use Holy Spirit’s guidance as to what lesson will be most helpful. It never fails to be the “perfect” lesson.
  6. Close with a closing meditation, prayer, holding of hands, or whatever is comfortable for the group.
  7. Have an e-mail distribution list. A Facebook page can also be a helpful communication tool for the group. It can be used for sharing inspiration and ACIM events.
  8. Have on hand other ACIM resources, including the blue book, "An Introduction to A Course in Miracles." It cost $4 and is available through the Miracle Distribution Center www.miraclecenter.org. Consider giving this booklet to anyone who is new to ACIM. Also, it is helpful to have a few extra copies of the Course for those who have not purchased the book yet.
  9. Refer people to ACIM resource information on Internet. The St. Louis ACIM website: www.acimstlouis.org contains links to many ACIM resources.