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Using We Make the Road by Walking in 2015-2016

We're just wrapping up a "boot camp" for people who plan to lead groups using We Make the Road by Walking. It has been a delightful time.

My strong recommendation for groups using the book is to keep it super simple and super participatory. Here's how:

1. Have the group seated in a circle or gathered around a table. (If the group is too large, invite 6 or 8 people to the front and they'll model participation for the larger group.)
2. Identify someone to begin reading the first Scripture reading. It's best if they read a paragraph or so of the text (about 3 to 5 verses). It helps to be sure everyone has the same translation - whether NRSV, CEV, or whatever.
3. Then someone continues with the next paragraph, and so on, through the Scripture readings. It's good to keep things moving at a good pace.
4. The same pattern continues for the chapter, with each person reading a paragraph. If people don't want to read aloud, of course they can just pass. If kids are present, I encourage you to include them in the readings and Engage questions.
5. When the chapter is complete, the next person can read the first Engage question, and so on.
The group really runs itself. The leader doesn't need to do any preparation; the hour is really self-contained.

A few observations from our time together:

1. By involving everyone with reading, attention levels stay high.
2. By everyone having a Bible and copy of the book, they can follow along as others read, thus taking in the content both orally and visually.
3. The experience of listening to others read aloud may seem unfamiliar at first, but it quickly becomes natural and very enjoyable.
4. When you move from the chapter to discussion, it's important to let people know that it is perfectly acceptable to express disagreement or discomfort with the readings, which the first Engage question invites people to do. Differences of viewpoint don't need to be resolved - simply respectfully expressed, listened to, and understood. (See #8)
5. If there is a large group, it's easy to break into groups of four. Four people can engage deeply with a chapter in an hour.
6. Engaging with the material over a meal works really well too.
7. If you want to add liturgical elements from Appendix 1, of course you can do so before and after the readings, chapter, and engagement questions.
8. At your first gathering, the leader/host should read the 5 guidelines (Appendix II). It's good to get everyone to verbally agree to assist in following these guidelines (like sitting on an exit row in a plane). The leader/host should promise to remind the group of the guidelines if problems come up, and review them from time to time.
9. If problems do come up - someone is argumentative or over-participates, for example - remind everyone of the 5 guidelines (Appendix II). Because the approach I'm recommending is so highly participatory, I think groups will get in the groove quickly and problems will be rare.

If you want to begin using the book for your curriculum/lectionary in 2015-2016, you'll see how you would sync up chapters with the calendar and holidays below.

You can also use the book for a quarter or season together, and have folks use it on their own thereafter.

Date/Chapter
First Quarter
Aug 30 - 1
Sep 6 - 2
Sep 13 - 3
Sep 20 - 4
Sep 27 - 5
Oct 4 - 6
Oct 11 - 7
Oct 18 - 8
Oct 25 - 9
Nov 1 - 10
Nov 8 - 11
Nov 15 - 12
Nov 22 - 13

Date/Chapter
Second Quarter
Nov 29 - 14 (Advent Begins)
Dec 6 - 15
Dec 13 -16
Dec 20 - 17
Dec 24 - 17A (Christmas Eve)
Dec 25 - 18 (Christmas)
Jan 3 - 19
Jan 10 - 20
Jan 17 - 21
Jan 24 - 22
Jan 31 - 23
Feb 7 - 24
Feb 14 - 25
Feb 21 - 26
Date/Chapter
Third Quarter:
Feb 28 - 27
Mar 6 - 28
Mar 13 - 29, 30, 31 (*see Aug 14, 21)
Mar 20 - 32 (Palm Sunday)
Mar 24 - 32A (Maundy Thursday)
Mar 25 - 32B (Good Friday)
Mar 26 - 32C (Holy Saturday)
Mar 27 - 33 (Easter)
Apr 3 - 34
Apr 10 - 35
Apr 17 - 36
Apr 24 - 37
May 1 - 38
May 8 - 39
Date/Chapter
Fourth Quarter
May 15 - 40 (Pentecost)
May 22 - 41
May 29 - 42
Jun 5 - 43
Jun 12 - 44
Jun 19 - 45
Jun 26 - 46
Jul 3 - 47
Jul 10 - 48
Jul 17 - 49
Jul 24 - 50
Jul 31 - 51
Aug 7 -52
Aug 14, 21 - *Chapters 30 and 31 can be added here.

If that sounds confusing, don't worry. Once you get the group going, you'll be surprised how easily things flow, how quickly community begins to happen, how refreshing the whole experience is, and how effectively it can contribute to spiritual formation, reorientation, and activation.