Theme: Becoming a Group
The times suggested for each activity are highly tentative. Feel free to change the timing to suit your group. If you do not have time to complete activity number 3, save it for your next meeting.
The group decides what its purpose as a group is. A statement is crafted that all members agree to.
Begin by having each member of the group write the purpose statement they developed before this meeting on a piece of flipchart, large and legible enough so that everyone can read it. Put all these up where they can all be seen. Once on the wall, these statements stop belonging to individuals and become group property. This should not be a competition between different member's statements.
Now, find a way to integrate these various statements. It may be that one statement captures the group's common intent perfectly - choose that one. It may be that a few statements only need to be combined or slightly altered. Or an entirely new statement might need to be devised that captures the significant similarities among members.
It may be that there are some real differences in what people want the group to be about. It is better in the long run to get these differences very clearly on the table and decide whether it would be better to form different groups, or that all purposes can be accommodated, or that some possible purposes won't be acted on. Now is the time to make clear decisions.
The result of this activity should be that group members have a very clear sense of what you generally want to do together.
If you generated groundrules during week 2 take this list out. Give all members an opportunity to add any other groundrules they think should be considered, without any discussion of their merits. If you don't have a list of possible groundrules, generate one now. To do this, have members call out any groundrule they want considered and keep a list. During this part of the process do not discuss what people offer, simply keep a list. Hold off all discussion until everyone has stated all the groundrules they want considered.
Once all possible groundrules are out, go through the list as a group and note any groundrules that any member does not feel should stand as a groundrule. Just note this. Do not discuss these until you have gone through all the possible groundrules.
Now you have a set of groundrules that everyone buys into and a set of contentious groundrules. Go back through the contentious ones and discuss these. Either accept, modify or reject the contentious ones.
Now is the time for members to individually stand and be counted as members of this group and to be initiated into the group. Now is the time for those who don't feel they really are willing to commit to this group to say so and leave. Commitment means that members buy into the group's purpose, its groundrules, and are willing to put energy into making this a successful group. Anyone who does not feel they can commit to being a member of this group should say their goodbyes and leave at this point.
Make a copy of your final set of groundrules. These, along with your purpose, should be typed up and distributed to members at your next meeting.
(THIS ACTIVITY MAY BE HELD OVER FOR THE NEXT MEETING)
What you need to do now is to create a name for the group and a symbolic process of initiation that captures something significant about the group.
The group's name should be meaningful to group members. It might somehow capture a significant event in the group's life, or the group's purpose, or symbolize what the group is to become. Come to agreement now on a name for the group.
A ritual is a set of behaviours that symbolize something significant. Rituals do little for the conscious mind, but they are very important to the unconscious mind. One thing rituals are very useful for is making a boundary or doorway between different places and states of mind. In order to make your group meetings something special, different from the everyday, mundane gatherings of people, you need to begin each meeting with a ritual. This ritual will help to create "sacred space" for your time together. The power and utility of your ritual will grow as you use it. You will find, over time, that the ritual helps to clear the unconscious mind of noise and focus its attention on the work of the group.
A ritual can be anything as long as it involves some behaviour(s) that you will do each time you begin your group meetings. It does not have to be elaborate and full of props (though that's great if you want to do it that way). The behaviour(s) should, however, symbolize something important about this group, its purpose, and/or its members.
Once the ritual is created, it should be kept secret and known only to the members of the group. The rule of secrecy is to maintain the integrity of the vessel you are building (see the introductory section on vessels, containment and sacred space) and it helps support the unconscious mind in taking the ritual seriously.
Once you have created the ritual, try it out on yourselves. See if it needs any fine tuning. If so, fine tune and do it again.
CONGRATULATIONS! YOU ARE NOW A FULLY INITIATED MEN'S GROUP. GOOD HUNTING!
Decide when and where you'll next meet.
At your next meeting you will have to start running yourselves. You may want to spend some time before the next meeting thinking about what would be good for the group to do.
One member should take primary responsibility for organizing and facilitating the next meeting. Decide who that will be. You'll need to do this at the end of each meeting.
You may also want to consider creating a very brief ending ritual to close the container after each meeting. This could be as simple as a group hug (like a football huddle) or as elaborate as you want to make it.