Starting a Local Spiritual Naturalist Group
Starting a local Spiritual Naturalist group where none existed before can be both challenging and rewarding. Your primary motivation should be to learn from the other attendees as a fellow student and practitioner rather than being any kind of authority. It is mainly by facilitating interaction among all participants, that you can help organize a community so they can support one another in practice.
The Society is here to help you in your efforts, whether you aim to:
- Form a club within an already existing congregation or organization that will focus on naturalistic contemplative ideas and practices.
- Form an independent local Spiritual Naturalist or Religious Naturalist group.
- Form a chapter of the Spiritual Naturalist Society in your area.
In the first two cases, we help by providing moral support, a sounding board, tips, contact with other local group leaders, and resources as provided on this site. In the third case of forming a Society chapter we offer all of this, plus the possibility of helping in more material ways such as setting up web pages and possibly paying some operating expenses (depending on several things like population, means, and your activities).
The first thing you’ll want to do is check out the current list of local groups. We are still in the process of growing this list so you’ll also want to do your own research to make sure there are not already local like-minded groups in your area that could use your participation.
Assuming you continue, you would next want to create some tools and methods of outreach to begin building your group. Ideas include:
- Create a Facebook group
- Create a Google Group
- Use Meetup.com
- Tell other local groups which may not be spiritual naturalist but might likely have interested members (Humanist groups, Unitarian churches, spirituality shops, meditation centers, etc)
- Contact us to get listed on our local groups page!
These methods will not grow the group on their own. It will then take work doing networking (perhaps in person and online) to make contacts. Mainly, it will take patience and persistence (keeping a regular schedule that is predictable and happens whether anyone shows or not).
Your format could include a number of approaches, such as:
- Casual meet & greets at a local pub, coffee shop, etc.
- Discussion groups in a library or community center
- Bowling, board game, movie nights or other regular social events
- Services with ritual and/or meditation
This depends a lot on the comfort level you have, and the interests of some of your first members. It is best to start simple with one core ‘backbone’ event which is regular. Then you can build other events (whether regular or ad hoc) as membership numbers and interests grow. Once you get a group format established, be sure to read the tips and materials available on our Resources & Materials for Local Groups page.
Lastly, you should join our SNS Local Group Leadership Network to share questions, ideas, and experiences with people doing (or trying to do) the same in other areas. Leaders of all Spiritual Naturalist and Religious Naturalist groups are welcome, whether they are independent, part of another organization, or a chapter of the Society.
If you would like your group to be an official chapter of the Society, see:
Becoming a Chapter of the Spiritual Naturalist Society