About Us

Facilitator's Guide

Before the Meeting

Read the Facilitator's Guide. Be familiar with our purpose and history so you won't have to read everything word for word.  Arrive by 6:15 pm to get settled and be ready to start at 6:30.


7:00 - 7:05

Welcome everyone.

 State our purpose:

The purpose of the Voluntary Simplicity Group is to touch people's lives with the idea of simple living and to support people in....

·        Living simpler lives

·        Making  intentional choices; and

·        Taking care of the planet.

Voluntary Simplicity is "the examined life". It is looking closely at our lives and asking if we are moving in directions we've consciously chosen. It's asking, "what's really important to me?" We believe that by coming together to ask that question we will learn from one another's experiences.

If you'd like, briefly state what drew you to the group and why you come.

Give a very brief history:

Our group has been meeting since May 1996 and is sponsored by the Social Action Committee of the First Unitarian Universalist Church. This church supports the work of Voluntary Simplicity because Unitarian Universalism supports open and honest inquiry about life values and respect for each other and the environment. If you would like more information about this church you are invited to pick up a brochure from the check in table.

The Voluntary Simplicity Group meets the 2nd Monday of every month. Some of our topics have included balancing different aspects of life, building community, improving our finances, developing personal skills, connecting with the earth, and working for social justice. Members of the group rotate to lead our topic, participate on panels and facilitate our gatherings. Some members meet outside of this group in Simplicity Circles. If you'd like to know more about that, please see one of the co-chairs of this group, Suellen Sorenson or Bridget Hanley.

Welcome newcomers and tell format of meetings.

We especially want to welcome our newcomers. How many of you are here for the first time?     Tonight we will be introducing ourselves, discussing a prearranged topic, sharing resources, doing a brief bit of business, and we will end with a closing.


7:05 - 7:25

Go around the room asking each one to state their name and respond to this month's check-in question.  Explain how long each person should take before you start the process.  If there are many people attending (more than 15) you'll have to limit the amount of time each person takes responding to the question or risk using up nearly half of the meeting time for check-in.  Often we design the question so that people can give a one or two word answer. 

Personal Testimony

7:25 - 7:30

On the agenda is the name of the person who will share his or her personal testimony. Call on the person to share his/her comments about their connection to voluntary simplicity.

Topic and Declaration of Action

7:30 - 8:40

At this point, briefly introduce the topic and turn the meeting over to the topic leader or panel moderator.  We normally allow 60 to 70 minutes for the topic.  If it seems appropriate, be willing to step in and assist, for example, to move things along, to draw people out, etc.

If the topic leader does not ask about personal actions, consider going around the room asking everyone to declare how they will take action to simplify their lives as it relates to the topic. Or, if there is not enough time for everyone to speak, ask who would like to make a declaration and let a few people speak to this.

Review Agenda

(Brief time)

Thank the topic leader.

Make another welcoming comment to newcomers and mention we will be sharing resources and doing a bit of business.

(E.g. Newcomers, we hope that our topic has spoken to you in some way. We are glad you are here. Next, we will be sharing resources and covering some business, and you are welcome to contribute, as you feel comfortable.)

Group Business and Sharing Resources


8:40 - 8:57

Using the agenda, make the appropriate announcements. Include...

  • $2 donation (suggested) for use of the room (mention increase in room cost)
  • Availability of parking stickers
  • Checking off your name on the sign-in sheet
  • Filling out a form for newcomers
  • Announce volunteers for the next meeting or recruit as needed: greeter, personal testimony, facilitator & person to do closing.

Let people know that volunteers will be reminded by email or by phone and provided with materials ahead of time.

At times, other business items are listed on the agenda.

Then, open the floor for sharing and announcements.  Say something like...

This time of the meeting is for sharing or making announcements. You may wish to tell others about an event, an opportunity, or a good resource.  Or, you may be searching for a resource related to living more consciously or simply and you may use this time to ask others for suggestions. Because this is a non-profit facility, the church asks that we not use this time to promote our personal businesses.

You may have to step in and move things along if it seems like this is taking too much time.  Example:  We need to move on now. If you're interesting in finding out more about this, please see John after the meeting.


8:57 - 9:00

The closing is usually a few words of inspiration related to Voluntary Simplicity to remind us why we all come together.   Call on the appropriate person to do closing.


"The skills of group facilitation are no different from those of a good educator or artful discussion leader: an ability to listen and to create an ambiance of group listening; to include all voices; to balance conflicting points of view; and to deal with the occasional loud and disruptive voice."                  --- Author Unknown