Self-reliance groups combine practical skills with spiritual principles to help people help themselves. Self-reliance groups are usually small, with fewer than 12 people, and are led by a facilitator, not an expert or teacher. Each self-reliance group focuses on one of four topics: employment, education, small business, or personal finances.
Self-reliance groups help people overcome life’s challenges and strengthen their faith. Group members improve their employment, education, finances, and businesses. Check out these stories to hear some personal experiences.
No. Self-reliance groups are designed to be facilitated, not taught by an expert. The materials provide the expertise, and the Spirit and the power of the group make up any difference. Simply follow the materials and seek the Spirit.
Groups typically meet once a week for 12 weeks. Group meetings are usually between 90 minutes and 2 hours in length. Accelerated option are available for the Find a Better Job group.
When your group forms, you decide as a group when and where to meet.
Group members may be invited to participate, or they can join a group on their own. Groups often form through a devotional, but they can also form without a devotional. Groups should always form under the direction of local leaders. Group members get together to decide when and where to meet. At least one facilitator is paired with each group.
This depends on several things, including how many people choose each group and how your ward or stake decides to pair you up with a group. It is best to work with your specialist to see how this will be done in your stake or ward.
A few weeks before your first group meeting, you will be contacted by your self-reliance specialist or another local leader to attend facilitator training. This will help you understand the role of a facilitator, how to facilitate, and other responsibilities you have. If you’d like to read ahead, you can find the training manual here. You might also want to check out these videos or some of these online trainings.
Self-reliance groups are like a council, not like a class. Don’t set up rows. Instead, try to set up the room so that the group members can see each other and can write easily in their manuals. For example, it would work well to seat the group members around a table. As a facilitator, don’t sit at the head of the table. Just be a part of the group.
Self-reliance groups can meet almost anywhere. Many groups meet in church buildings. Others have met in the homes of the facilitator or group members. You can decide this with your group. It might be helpful to check with your self-reliance specialist. If you meet in a church building, work with your self-reliance specialist to get access to the building.
Review the materials in advance and come prepared with the necessary videos. You don’t need to prepare like you are going to teach a lesson. Just be familiar with the materials. Then, in the group meeting, simply follow the materials as they are written.
You can find electronic versions of the books and links to all of the videos here. It’s a good idea to download the videos for your group meeting ahead of time because wireless networking might not always be reliable. Work with your self-reliance specialist to have enough copies of the manuals for your meetings.
If you notice that someone has missed a group meeting, encourage them to make up the lesson on their own, with an action partner, or with you.
Have someone else facilitate the meeting in your absence (instead of canceling the meeting). Remember, facilitators simply follow the material. You can ask another group member to facilitate, or you might ask your self-reliance specialist to cover for you.
You might need to postpone the meeting. Notify your self-reliance specialist. Under these circumstances, some groups have taken more than 12 weeks to complete their course.
Sometimes this happens. Work together with your group to invite this person to the next meeting. Help the person’s action partner offer support and encouragement. Try to understand what might be going on in this person’s life that could be making it hard for them to participate.
This is discouraged. The length and content of each group course was designed for specific outcomes and groups are encouraged to follow the material as written. However, some of the content relevancy may vary or there may be other compelling local needs. Check with the stake specialist before making changes.
Sharing is a natural part of self-reliance groups, but sometimes someone might talk so much that others seem reluctant to share. It can be helpful to talk with that person one-on-one, outside of a group meeting. Explain what you are observing and how you think it is affecting the group. Ask the person to share any concerns, and see if you can agree on a solution that works better for everyone in the group.
At the final group meeting, group members complete their personal assessments. The facilitator collects this information, and after the group meeting he or she completes the End of Group report at srs.lds.org/report. Completing the report also takes care of requesting certificates. A self-reliance manager will send digital copies of the certificates to the stake self-reliance specialist who will print them, get them signed, and make sure group members get their certificates.
Each week, group members pair up and commit to support and follow up with one another. These pairings are called action partners. Action partners can call or message each other between group meetings. Action partners are typically the same gender and are not family members. Action partners can rotate weekly, but it isn’t required. Check out this video to learn more about action partners.
Everyone is welcome at self-reliance groups. Work with all of your group members to help them feel welcome. Be sensitive to the perspective and understanding of people from different faiths. It might help to explain some scriptures and quotes that are specific to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It may also be necessary to adjust some of the faith-based commitments.