Forming a team

If you hope to run Sycamore in your parish or chaplaincy, you will need support! It’s so important that you work with a team, however small, and that you have the support of your parish, even if it is very indirect.

DON’T BE ALONE

If you are thinking about Sycamore on your own, and want to propose it to your parish or chaplaincy, there are two paths you can follow:

  1. You can start by approaching your parish priest or catechetical coordinator or head of evangelisation or chaplain: whoever has responsibility in your community for evangelisation or catechesis. Pray for them and for your conversation before you meet them – that they can be open to what you are suggesting. If they are sympathetic, or at least quietly supportive, then agree what the next steps will be. You don’t need to plan everything together; this is just a first conversation. But if they are open then you can agree, for example, that you might explore things further than come back with more concrete suggestions, or that you might be able to start gathering a team (see below). They might be able to suggest other people in the parish or chaplaincy who might want to collaborate with you and be part of the initial team.
  2. Or you can start by trying to find someone else who shares your passion – a Sycamore buddy or colleague – and try to do this before you approach your parish priest or chaplain. In this way you not approaching the parish alone but you already have some support. You might already have one or two people in mind. You might already have a core “team” of Sycamore enthusiasts even before you have started. But if you are feeling slightly isolated, then pray that the Lord will help you to find some support – one or two people who share your enthusiasm for mission and catechesis, and who will appreciate the vision of Sycamore. Be brave: reach out to one or two people you know; see if the Holy Spirit inspires anyone to come to mind or nudges you to speak to anyone. And if you are really stuck then go back to Point 1 above and start by approaching the parish alone.

GATHER A TEAM

If you have a group of two or three people who are initially interested, you will want to expand this into a slightly larger group who will be the Sycamore core team. It doesn’t have to be large, but it would be great to have between 4 and 10 people to share the mission and divide up the tasks. You need people, above all, who care about their Christian faith, who care about evangelisation, and who have the desire and the time to give to this project. They do not need to be experts or saints or qualified theologians. You might, at this early stage, be wanting to choose people because of the skills they have (organising, leadership, IT, prayer, cooking, welcoming, etc); but you might want to leave this to later, and just focus on choosing people who will be good for the vision of the core team.

How to gather the group? You can either, after prayer, choose people you know who might be interested, and might have the right gifts and skills; this ‘invitation only’ policy gives you more control and allows you to ‘vet’ the team, without excluding the possibility of others joining later. Or you can explain the Sycamore vision to the parish or community and ask for volunteers, trusting that the Holy Spirit will inspire and send those who are meant to come. If you cast the net this wide, it is good to have some way of managing the team, so that people’s gifts are being used wisely, and the wrong person is not put in the wrong position in a way that could become counter-productive. For example, promise people that they can be involved in some way, but keep the final decision about how to be involved in your hands; some people may not be good discussion group leaders, others may not be good cooks! There will usually be space for everyone somewhere.

This is your core team, that will carry everything forward and take responsibility for the programme.

Invite your team members to sign up for the Sycamore newsletter, and to join the Sycamore Leaders’ Forum here if they are on Facebook.

RUNNING A TASTER SESSION

One way to get people interested, and to gather together a group who might want to be part of the team, is to run a very informal taster session. You can do this even before you have decided to run Sycamore. See the How to Run a Taster Session page here.

PLANNING AND TRAINING

What kind of preparation will the team need? Probably to meet for a few sessions, at least two or three months before the programme begins, to get to know each other, to pray together, to plan the programme together, and to have some training or preparation for the various elements of Sycamore.

You can develop your own training, or use the Training Sessions outlines on the Sycamore website here.

Not everyone will be a discussion group leader or a prayer team member or a cook, but it is good if the main preparation is done by the whole core team, to bind them together and give them a common vision of what is happening. The discussion group leaders, especially, will need some kind of training and preparation.

RESPONSIBILITIES AND TASKS

The key areas of responsibility are: Leadership/Coordination; Discussion Group Leaders; Food; Prayer; Welcome; IT; Publicity. If the programme is small-scale (eg just a handful of guests), then the core team might end up getting everything together on the evening, and do the leadership, welcome, discussion groups and IT themselves. But almost certainly you will need leaders and separate teams for Food and Prayer.

The Discussion Group team involves those who will lead the discussion groups, and will introduce and wind up the sessions. The Food Group need to coordinate all the food planning (shopping, cooking, setting up, serving, tidying up and cleaning). The Prayer Group team is praying for the whole project and all the participants through the week, and hopefully they are able to meet and pray at an appropriate venue while the meeting is taking place – e.g. in the local church.

For each sub-team, the core group will probably want to nominate a leader from the core group, and then this leader will probably recruit other volunteers who will join the sub-groups without being fully involved in the core group meetings. E.g. the Food Group might have one leader who gets a cooking team of 8 volunteers together.

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