The Value and Richness of Small Groups

Community is essential to our happiness and flourishing and ultimately our holiness. We at Endow believe this wholeheartedly and our core mission is to promote community development through small groups. Women have always played an integral role as the backbone and fabric of society, connecting people and providing a unique warmth, hospitality and care for the vulnerable and weak.

Today more than ever, this call to women to gather together, over a shared experience, and set aside time for intentional friendship and faith formation is needed for women of all ages and backgrounds. At Endow, we have seen 40,000 women experience the joy of being a part of one of our small groups.

What is a small group?

At Endow, a small group, or an Endow group, is an intentional community of 5-12 women that have decided to set aside 8-12 weeks to gather and read aloud and discuss one of the Endow study guides. These groups are led by an Endow host, who is not an expert, but simply a woman who wants to guide her group members through the eight chapters of an Endow study, learning, questioning and discussing the topics right alongside her group members. The women who host an Endow group feel compelled to create an opportunity for other women to be renewed in their faith.

The goal of each Endow study and each Endow group is to equip women to better be able to articulate the Faith for themselves and for their community. The Endow studies seek to make the richness of the Catholic intellectual inheritance accessible without overly simplifying it. There are many hard and challenging teachings of the faith and things that a 12 week study cannot solve. The Endow small group model allows for ample time for discussion and equips women to have engaging and thought-provoking conversations about important and essentials topics. Endow groups gather in homes, at parishes, in the neighborhood coffee shop or workplaces.

Why do small groups work?

This desire for community – and for real friendship over real things – can be found in an Endow group.  Fundamentally as humans, we are all seeking community and connection. Our world is more connected than ever – news from around the world gets shared in a millisecond and shows up in your pocket. There is so much connectedness online, and even our great aunts have Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat. Because of this new moment in time with the pervasiveness the digital world, we are all looking for an opportunity to experience real in person community and a shared wisdom. Endow groups provide the opportunity to share a common experience with other women who have had many different life experiences from you.

How do small groups bring about transformation?

One of the beautiful truths of the Catholic Faith is that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Regardless of anything else, it is Christ who unites all people. Whether we are new in our faith, seasoned and our rosary beads well-worn, or a new mother too tired for questions, or a teenager budding with ideas and enthusiasm, Jesus calls all of us into a relationship with Him and into a relationship with our brothers and sisters in Christ in his Church.

The early Church started as small group communities and throughout the history of the Church, we see small group communities from families to monasteries uniting together and becoming holy through their common pursuit of holiness and their relationship to Christ. There is a great gift in the Church’s inheritance in the saints and in the teaching documents of the Church.

Studying these riches together — whether it’d be the life of Catherine of Siena or the teaching of Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium — women from very different backgrounds have the opportunity to read alongside each other and learn together. Endow small groups are transformative because they provide a common experience for us in a time that is particularly disjointed and fragmented.  This common life experience is so very uncommon today. There is no longer even a shared cultural imagination (let alone an shared theological imagination) such as how many TV options there are now — you cannot assume everyone is watching what you are watching. This fragmentation leads to a lack of cultural closeness and can disrupt our sense of belonging and common life.

The plethora of TV options is just one example of this fragmentation. But, the beauty of an Endow group is that it is reclaiming a common experience and not just a cultural one, but an experience that is essentially philosophical and theological in nature. We are giving women a language and a framework to understand their faith and their everyday experience in a new light.

Why Endow?

Endow brings women into small group communities that transmit the depth of our Catholic faith to awaken each participant’s particular feminine genius and ignite them as luminaries who heal, mother and prepare families and the world for the love of Christ. We have seen the experience of an Endow group change and transform our members. The common experience of reading and discussing the study together allows them to see a new depth and beauty to the joys, sufferings, and questions of common everyday life. The role of living and transmitting this love and truth falls in particular to women as we are at the very heart of society.

Women who have discovered their identity in Christ have the power to change culture.  Endow comes to the scene after generations of promoting a distorted understanding of true feminism and the role of women.

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Katherine Meeks is the Executive Director of Endow, an organization creating opportunities for Catholic women to meet in community.

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