Small group Resources
CLS wants to help you bring students into community as you regularly meet together. The act of meeting, in and of itself, is an encouragement to our brothers and sisters on the law school campus.
We believe that we are better fit for our callings in the law when we engage one another, and that God’s call into law is not merely a call to the individual lawyer or law student. In short, there is something important to the mission of the Church that is served when vocation-centered groups convene.
We hope that these tips and tools will help you fulfill the vision God has given you for your campus.
SOME TIPS FOR GATHERING LAW STUDENTS
- Meet regularly, rather than ad hoc. Even if your fellowship gathers only once a quarter, make it actually happen quarterly, come rain or shine.
- An invitation is almost as important as the gathering itself. Those who receive an invitation to join you are themselves identified with your group, and regular invitations and updates are meaningful, even if the organizer never knows how much.
- Many law students long for fellowship and feel isolated. For them, gathering meets a real need. Provide opportunities for introductions and interaction at every meeting, if possible.
- Be creative in your invitations. Local pastors, lawyers, professors, campus ministers, and others will be interested. Cast a broad invitatory net.
Meeting, in and of itself, is important and worthwhile. But your group should aspire to a mission beyond mere fellowship.
The purpose of this page is to give your small group tools to fulfill your mission of encouraging your classmates in spiritual growth and vocational stewardship. You might begin by thinking through these goals:
One reason we gather on campus is to encourage one another as we seek to become more Christ-like in the context of preparation for the legal profession.
Spiritual formation happens primarily in the context of the local church, our families, and accountability groups, but much of our ethical and personal formation happens through our law school training—and the habits we develop thereby. So our counter-formation, including habits that fight conformity to the “pattern of the (law) world,” is often best developed in a community of Jesus-loving lawyers or law classmates.
As you think about what that might look like on your campus, consider the following:
- Many students enjoy a good Bible study, but there are ample opportunities to study Scripture. What is rare, however, is the opportunity to apply Scripture to the everyday challenges of lawyers and law students.
- Formation often involves reflection and self-awareness, two things that take time and quiet space, which are in short supply for most law students. Consider providing time for reflection, evaluation, and discussion in meetings when meaty topics are presented.
- Perhaps a one- or two-day retreat with lots of space for individual group reflection is a possibility.
- The annual CLS National Conference and various regional retreats are designed to foster thoughtful training and interaction with lawyers and law students in the context of faithful spirituality. Consider making the time to promote and attend these types of events.
- A good practice in your community of law students is to ask—out loud—what barriers folks are experiencing to spiritual growth. If we are honest and intentional about our challenges, regardless of whether they are inherent in legal training and practice, we will be able to face them together.
The tools that are linked below will help you do some of these things. As you develop your own materials that you find useful, please let us know so that we can share them with others. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We want to help law students and lawyers develop a well-defined understanding of Christian vocation and how it works itself out in law study and practice. This should be one of the key goals of law student fellowship groups.
Many law students, like many Christians, have a dualistic view of life and work: our spiritual lives are private matters, having to do with worship and church life and little to do with our law study. On the other hand, our secular lives are public, having to do with business and commerce and centered on our daily jobs. Sure, our devotional lives teach us not to lie, cheat, or steal, but beyond that, business is business.
This approach is a harmful lie. If we don’t understand that all of life should be rooted in worship and that our ordinary work is a way to both worship our Creator and love our neighbors, we are living spiritually impoverished lives. Our life in the church flows into and informs our daily work, our family life, our recreation, and our public witness.
Lawyers and law students who submit every aspect of their calling to the Lord are a part of God’s redemptive work in the world. This redemptive work of lawyers, shaped by their citizenship in the kingdom, gives glory to God and furthers His kingdom. This work has the potential to do justice, reform the profession, free the oppressed, reconcile those at odds, vindicate the rights of those who suffer, or simply give wise counsel to those in need, to name just a few possibilities. (For more on this, see our White Paper on Vocation).
The gifts that God gives us, including our gifts for law study and practice, are given for the benefit of our neighbors as instruments of God’s grace:
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 4:10-11)
Here are some ideas on how we might help each other apply these theological truths to the specific gifts and practices in law school:
- We might study the topic of Christian “vocation” or “calling” together;
- We should intentionally discuss the gospel of the kingdom as it relates to law practice and study when we gather;
- We should challenge one another to talk about how our daily law-related tasks are centered in loving our neighbors in specific ways, and we should encourage one another to tell stories of the redemptive work, especially in the more mundane areas of practice;
- We ought to remind each other of the reasons we went to law school in the first place;
- We should talk about our work in real terms of justice, freedom, reconciliation, process, vindication, right, and service, among the other foundations of legal work;
- We can offer guest speakers and panels to our law school community that model the exploration of vocational stewardship and ministry in the law;
- Participate in mentorship programs, where we are mentored by a lawyer or we mentor a younger law student, with an eye toward talking on purpose about Christian calling.
We pray that these tools will assist you as you consider these ideas.