Every year about this time I get a number of inquiries about women’s groups. Summer is winding down and the anticipation of autumn stirs a woman’s spirit towards a more contemplative time of year.
I love hearing that women want to start study groups or book clubs; and so I always try to post an article on how to get something like this started. (And I’m always available at [email protected] to answer questions!)
I was recently invited on Brian Patrick’s EWTN Sonrise Morning Show to talk about the great value Catholic fiction in our faith walk so it made sense to also get this post going about starting a women’s book club—to sort of go hand-in-hand with that guest spot.
Starting a book club is so much easier than you may think and if you’ve been toying with the idea, I’m hoping this will give you the courage to go for it!
First: Pick your book.
Decide if you want to read fiction or non-fiction. Since I’ll be talking with Brian about fiction books, my passion is to invite Catholic women to see how fun it is to read Catholic fiction. At Bezalel Books we’ve put together packages specifically for women’s clubs and of course I think it is a great place to start your search. Our packages do include some non-fiction as well.
Find our packages here.
Second: Get the group together.
You really only need two or three women to have a great time (am I right?) and so you shouldn’t feel like this has to be a big production—although if you know you have the leadership and hostess gifts (charisms), by all means, gather as many women as your heart desires!
Consider extending an invitation or two to women with whom you don’t necessarily know very well. This is a nice time to establish new friendships and since it is confined to specific dates and times, it doesn’t require you become best friends nor does it make all kinds of demands on you.
Maybe someone in the carpool lane at the kid’s school that you’ve always smiled at and said hello but never struck up a conversation; or it might be a neighbor with whom you’ve chatted over the mailbox but it never became more. You get the idea.
On the other hand, feel free to use it as a reason for you and your closest friends to stay connected as well.
No matter what, ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in selecting the women.
Third: Establish meeting dates and times (and location).
When you know who you are inviting, your best bet is to look at your own schedule and offer a couple of options for getting together. I would suggest an hour and a half to two hours, once a week. So, for example if Tuesdays from 9 to 10:30 a.m. or Wednesdays from 6:30 to 8 p.m. work best for you, offer those dates and times to the women.
I do have a friend who finds that twice a month commitments work best. For her it is always the first and third Thursdays.
Ultimately go with the most popular choice for the group. Too many options will muddy the waters; just a couple to put out there is fine.
Chances are you will open your home to the group but you may decide that the parish center or some other location works better. Just make sure that you coordinate the days and times you offer with the location availability. All this, along with the book title, should be part of the invitation you extend.
Make sure to give a tentative start and end date as well. Decide if you are purchasing the books and the women will reimburse you or if you are asking that each purchase her own book.
Fourth: Have fun!
Determine if your first meeting is just a chance to set the stage or if you will dive right into the book which means that a chapter had to have been read before the gathering.
For your first meeting you might provide a light snack and beverages and have a signup sheet for the following three of four get-togethers. If you try to sign up too far into the future, women might not be able to commit because schedules change.
I have found that a reminder email is helpful as we all get caught up in our schedules and sometimes forget these things that nourish our souls! Something that goes out to everyone a day or two before the meeting and is a simple message; "Blessings…I just wanted to remind everyone of Tuesday’s book club…we will be discussing chapter 3 and that we are looking forward to Sue’s snacks…"
These wonderful get-togethers make for great times! They provide opportunities for personal relationships to take root and grow; they allow you to journey with others in anointed ways.
And remember I’m here to answer questions to help get you on your way!
* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.