Group Study Guide for
Living More with Less
Living More with Less: 30th Anniversary Edition is a great resource for Christian education classes and small groups! For best results, each member of the class (or each household), including the leader, should have a copy of the book. The leader needs the following:
- The session guides, one for each session, which you can print out and use as a basis for leading your discussions. (Links to each session below.) The book has been split into twelve sessions; sessions can be combined if the group is meeting for less time than that. Sessions can also be extended over more gatherings if you have more time.
- A calendar (link below) to print out to help group members know what the readings are for the coming weeks (feel free to modify and adjust this for your timetable).
- More resources, tips and ideas are also available for further discussion and reading.
These session guides are meant to be just that: guides. You will not be able to get through all the discussion questions and activity options listed, especially if you spend some of the session in quiet reflection and prayer. Pick and choose the pieces of each session guide that fit the nature, size, personalities, and purpose of your group.
And as with many areas of life, less might be more—that is, trying to get through fewer discussion questions and activities might result in greater depth and focus for your group. Also, be aware that arranging the elements of a session in a different order might work better for your group.
Each session also contains a worship/prayer element called "More of the Spirit," written by Carol Penner, pastor of First Mennonite Church in Vineland, Ontario, and contributor to the 30th anniversary edition of the book. (To find more of Carol's worship resources, go to her blog.)
You can use these prayer and reflection guides in a variety of ways: at the beginning of each session, during a session, or to close a session. You may also want to offer these litanies, prayers, and reflections to your pastor for use during worship services. They would create a nice connection between worship services and this study.
Sessions 6–12 suggest spending some time talking about "Experiments in Living More with Less." This time encourages people to try out ideas that they encounter in Part Three of the book and to share with the group how their experiments are going. This gives people the opportunity to experiment with new life choices without committing to them for an extended period of time.
Several suggestions for larger group activities are also contained in the "Activity Options" section of each lesson. Prayerfully consider what your group might feel prompted to do as a group with regard to simple and sustainable living.
To emphasize the richness of the testimonies, stories, and information shared in your group throughout the quarter, you may want to bring a laptop or pad of paper along to each session and have someone record the more-with-less ideas and resources that emerge from your group.
You could edit and collate these contributions and then make a copy at the end of the study to give to each participant. People could keep this list of ideas with their copy of Living More with Less as your group's addendum, of sorts, to the book.
Some of the books and curricula in the online resource list might be helpful as you lead your group through the book. Or, if there is a lot of energy around these topics even after your group is finished studying Living More with Less, you might consider going deeper into one of the topics by next studying one of these resources together.
Some churches have formed sustainability circles, which would be another thing to consider as your study of Living More with Less comes to an end. Is there desire among the group to continue meeting in some way in order to share ideas, hold each other accountable, and work on issues of sustainability and simplicity together?
Blessings as you plan and implement ideas with your group. May you find much strength and joy and peace as you prayerfully read, discuss, and experiment with Living More with Less.
Editor, Living More with Less: 30th Anniversary Edition
Study Guide Session Links (Word Documents)
Study Guide Calendar
Session 1: The Legacy Of Living More With Less
Session 2: The Legacy Of Living More With Less
Session 3: Intro To Life Standards And Life Standard #1, Do Justice
Session 4: Life Standard #2, Learn From The World Community, And #3, Nurture People
Session 5: Life Standard #4, Cherish The Natural Order, And #5, Nonconform Freely
Session 6: Money And Stewardhip
Session 7: Homes, Homekeeping
Session 8: Gardens, Farms, And Markets & Cooking And Eating
Session 9: Clothes And Bodies, Transportation And Travel
Session 10: Recreation And Schedules, Celebrations And Life Passages
Session 11: Technology And Media
Session 12: Meetinghouses & Churches, Strengthening Each Other And Organizing Communities