The Rescue Project focuses on preaching the gospel, with a provocative and compelling approach that integrates several unique elements:
- A four-word story, making the gospel repeatable: Created, Captured, Rescued, Response
- Calling out the enemy, looking at the one and only enemy of the entire human race, the one Jesus calls “the ruler of this world.”
- An image of Jesus that is not just kind, but also utterly unconquerable.
- Discusses the Mass and Eucharist in the context of the gospel
- Features baptism prominently
- Communicates clarity about our mission
The easy answer is simply, the content. To be clear, we’re huge fans of Alpha. That said, the Rescue Project is a deeper dive in the gospel, whereas Alpha is more of a basic introduction to Christianity. Like Alpha and many other experiences, The Rescue Project’s format emphasizes small groups and a retreat.
This pastoral question has no programmatic answer. To best answer this question, leaders are encouraged to learn how to prayerfully discern God’s plan. We have a series of videos we will be filming to help equip leaders in the way the Lord has shown us to pastorally discern.
We are fans of The Chosen and encourage others to watch the series. We wouldn’t recommend, however, integrating the series into the Rescue Project experience. The Chosen may be an experience the small group could enjoy together after The Rescue Project concludes.
This pastoral question has no programmatic answer. To best answer this question, pastors and leaders are encouraged to learn to prayerfully discern God’s plan. We have a series of videos we will be filming to help equip leaders in the way the Lord has shown us to pastorally discern and to answer the perennial question typically asked, “What’s next?”
Preparing to Run Rescue
The best preparation is prayer. We would also recommend that you watch the series and read through the Running Rescue Guide prior to beginning and to invest in equipping your leaders. From a content perspective, it’s important to be aware of the pastoral challenges, especially associated with Chapters 3 and 4. It’s also helpful to plan for and have clarity on the retreat during week 7. From a hospitality and accompaniment perspective, you will benefit from planning how to best host the weekly sessions.
The Rescue Project is intended to be experienced through a weekly cadence and we would discourage any variance to this rhythm, particularly because of the accompaniment component between sessions. Any variation could result in a loss of momentum and people dropping from the small group.
Meals are an essential ingredient in the experience. The meal may be either breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Snacks are not considered a meal, but may be offered at some point if necessary during the retreat in addition to the meals.
The Rescue Project is for everyone. We might suggest you can best prayerfully discern who to invite after watching the series yourself. Among those the Lord might bring to mind may well be someone who has fallen away from the faith, those who have no faith or perhaps it may be someone you sit next to every week at Mass. In other words,the gospel is for everyone and all are welcome.
Run Small Groups
The ideal size for a small group is 8 participants plus 2 facilitators. This configuration protects an effective small group dynamic by making sure the group isn’t too large nor too small.
Establishing a set of guidelines with everyone in the small group will help maintain a healthy and respectful conversation. In the Running Rescue Guide, you will find helpful hints on pages 20 – 22. Simple guidelines like these are helpful:
- Remind everyone that the small group is holy ground and therefore trust and confidentiality are very important.
- Love everyone and be kind, meeting them right where they are.
- Have mutual respect for everyone.
- Avoid interrupting others and having side conversations.
- Encourage everyone to stay on topic.
- No one should call on anyone to speak.
- All questions are welcome.
- Begin and end on time
In any small group experience, we will encounter a variety of situations: people who perhaps don’t yet think with the mind of the Church. Others may come from different faith backgrounds or have no faith at all. Some may be struggling with significant trauma and wounds and there may be some who are not fully engaged in the experience. What’s important to keep in mind is to see everyone in the small group as God sees them and to respond in love. When possible, encourage ongoing conversations outside the small group as needed. This is where accompaniment between the weeks can be a significant pastoral support..
Run Prayer, Retreats & Worship
When we speak of worship, we’re speaking about honoring and praising God. We worship God in prayer, music and ultimately in the liturgy. When we speak of worship in the context of the weekly experience, we’re talking about prayer and worship music. The style of worship music you decide upon is up to you. Whether you choose traditional or contemporary worship music, we suggest keeping in mind that it’s helpful to have lyrics available in some format to encourage everyone to participate and that the music fits with the content of the episode for that particular week. Chant is certainly a beautiful choice on the retreat day as background music during prayer ministry or during adoration before the Blessed Sacrament.
When the retreat is offered in a parish setting, we’d recommend that the day begin with Mass if possible and include adoration as well after Chapter 7. Obviously, if the retreat is held in a home or other context, Mass and adoration are not a part of the retreat experience, unless the group were able to attend Mass together at a local parish and then proceed with the retreat in the home.
The retreat is the summit of The Rescue Project. If someone in the group is unable to attend the retreat due to illness, travel or other reason, the retreat is still offered. For those who miss the retreat, we offer a couple suggestions: 1) Invite the person(s) to attend the next retreat if in a parish context or 2) the small group leaders may consider individually accompanying those who missed the retreat.
Absolutely. When participants on the retreat receive prayer ministry, we simply pray with and for our friends, rather than pray over them. As brothers and sisters, we stand alongside one another before God and bring their needs before Him. For further clarity, you may reference the Prayer Ministry guide that is available on our resource page.
Rescue at Home
They would have been more deliberate with their pre-session huddle and the post-session debrief. Often, the meal and home preparations ended up taking over and sprinkled themselves into the pre-session huddle which in turn created some distraction or hurry. The huddle needed to be a more deliberate and intentional experience for them. Why? Because as hosts our hearts benefit by being open to the love, peace and healing that comes from immersing ourselves in prayer and worship, as the facilitator guide suggests. Additionally, as hosts in the home, their role is to “welcome and love our guests” as the ACTS XXIX leadership team has exhorted. They noticed that, on a personal level, when they were distracted or preoccupied during the huddle it took them longer to be as authentically present as they otherwise knew they could be. By the same token, during the course of the evening, they would have taken more notes in order to make the debrief more meaningful and efficient. It was often the case that they were tired at the end of the night and still had cleaning up to do. It would have been more beneficial for each of them to have taken 5 quiet minutes, review their notes, and jot down bullet points for a debrief discussion the following day when we were more refreshed.
They would also have carved out specific time as a couple to watch the videos and go through the questions together each week. Although they facilitated conversation in the group and therefore didn’t speak very much, they remarked that it’s a great opportunity to grow as a couple.
At the beginning and in their enthusiasm, they tried to make every meal a full banquet experience. By the third week, out of sheer necessity, they started figuring out how to balance their efforts realistically with their life obligations and over the course of the following weeks found an ideal balance in preparation for the home group. By the end, they realized that it’s not the quantity of love, attention, and details you pour into hosting, but rather the quality in each of those areas. Sometimes a little less genuinely gives you a lot more in return.
Rescue in Parishes
The Rescue Project is intended for use everywhere, including parishes. However, parishioners should only seek to implement a parish-wide effort under the leadership and direction of the pastor and his leadership team. Regardless of that support, we encourage people to offer the experience in other contexts such as homes, workplaces, universities, schools and more.
We would suggest that parish leadership watch the series before launching The Rescue Project. Additionally, we recommend the small group leaders view the video prior to each session in order to prayerfully prepare. We would, however, suggest that the participants not watch the video on their own prior to the session.
Nothing! By not charging you eliminate any barrier to someone’s ability to attend the 8-week series. The costs incurred are around the companion resources in book form and the meals. The parish leadership will want to prayerfully discern how to manage these costs. We would recommend any cost not be passed on to the participants. There are ways to navigate meals in a cost-effective manner. Something to consider once there is buy-in from the participants after the initial weeks is to make available a free-will offering basket at the sessions. This may help defray some expenses.
In larger contexts like the parish, the Coordinator/Administrator for The Rescue Project is responsible for marketing and promotion.
Yes. We learn best by doing. Role playing allows for an opportunity to encounter different scenarios, to understand behaviors and personalities, and builds confidence and skill in leading small groups.
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