Listening Growth Groups

Listening Groups Start in February, 2011

Karen Mains is gathering material to put a book on Listening Groups together and would love to journey from February 2011 through eight months until September with people who wish training as Listening Group leaders. This will keep her mind in the Listening Group mode and in dialogue with people who feel strongly about this spiritual exercise.

Her covenant is to have the first draft of the book written by September, 2011.

As usual, the groups will consist of 3-4 members; we will meet once a month at the Mains’ home in West Chicago, IL. The meetings will last 2 1/2 hours, but will include training and hands-on activity with each participant taking turns leading the group. Karen is a small-group specialist, certified by Riva Institute as a focus group moderator.

We will be looking at the neurobiology of well-being cuased by the listening process, at how to ask good questions, at how to guard the architecture of the listening process, at how to create safety in a group, etc.

The fee for this 8-month journey is $125. If you are interested, contact Susan Hands at Mainstay Ministries at

A History of our Listening Growth Groups

Hungry Souls has been conducting small (3-4 people) listening growth groups for more than five years. The following description may help you understand what it is we do.

In his amazing book A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life, Parker Palmer talks about the paradox of being alone together, of being present to one another as a community of solitudes…

Those phrases sound like contradictions because we think of solitude and community as either-or. But solitude and community, rightly understood, go together as both-and.
To understand true self—which knows who we are in our inwardness and
whose we are in the larger world—we need both the interior intimacy that
comes with solitude and the otherness that comes with community.

Since February 2005, about 240 of us have journeyed together in small growth groups to learn about the practice of listening prayer. Meeting for 2.5 hours once a month, we have begun to discover the amazing power that exists in listening to one another while exercising prayerful silence as a primary key to unlocking mutual self-understanding. We gather, go into silent listening prayer; one person shares, the others keep praying and listening. When the person who has been sharing is done, we go again into silence, which is only broken when that person thinks of something else that needs to be spoken or gives permission for the group to respond. And we do respond, but only with questions. Then we go back into prayer-filled silence and this is broken after a few minutes when the next person begins the cycle again.

One woman wrote, "I just wanted to let you know that I want to continue coming on Thursdays and meeting with a group. It has changed my life. I have experienced the healing powers of God with my relationship with my parents and others. Meeting for two hours once a month is so healing for me." There is something powerful in being heard, in being really listened to, and in being deeply known. Few of us have enough people in our lives who really want to hear us tell them who we think we are, and what we think we are becoming. There is something even more powerful when a handful of other people give us their undivided attention, when they receive what we say, don't lecture or try to fix us, and when the silence of listening is activated by the Holy Spirit and prayer.

"I pin my hopes to quiet processes and small circles,
in which vital and transforming events take place."
— Rufus Jones

Hungry Souls has created a set of white papers that describe more fully the process we have developed, and what we have learned in these last four years. If you are interested in receiving a set to start your own listening growth group, please contact us at .

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