How to run Sycamore 1: Background

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[For an introduction to Sycamore, please see the Welcome page here.]

Sycamore is a tool for primary evangelisation: to share what is at the heart of the Christian faith with those who have not heard it before or with those whose understanding of Christianity is very limited; to invite them to be open to the Christian faith and to respond to it by taking the first steps of faith; to create a space for honest and open discussion about these topics and about life in general.

Sycamore has been inspired by other evangelisation projects that have been used in recent years at  Newman House Catholic Centre, such as the Catholic Faith Exploration (CaFE) video resources, the Alpha Course (in particular the Youth Alpha videos produced by the Canadian Alpha Team), the Why Course from the Catholic Truth Society, Word on Fire’s Catholicism Course, and the Great Adventure Bible Timeline series presented by Jeff Cavins.

Sycamore has been developed by a team at Newman House, which is the main chaplaincy centre for university students in central London. It has grown out of a Catholic context, and will be especially useful in Catholic parishes, chaplaincies, schools and youth groups. But it is meant to be an introduction to the broad Christian tradition, and so the hope is that it will be useful for Christians in other traditions as well.

Sycamore is therefore aimed at non-churchgoers; those with no Christian background, or those who have become very disconnected from their Christian faith. It is designed for real beginners; those who are curious about faith, open, enquiring, hesitant, as yet uncommitted. It hopes to lead them to a point where their curiosity will be aroused and they will be open to taking the first steps in faith.

It is not designed, first of all, as a catechetical tool for use with those who are already committed Christians, or as a complete course of Christian initiation (e.g. as a complete RCIA course). It may, however, be useful as a supplement or resource in some catechetical contexts; e.g. at the early stages of an enquiry programme, or as one part of a refresher course for a confirmation programme.

The current films are BETA versions of the programme. They have been trialled in a university chaplaincy and in two parishes. They are now available for more general use. But they are still draft versions of what we hope will be a more finished programme. Some of the materials work well, but there is still lots to learn, and there are many improvements to make. We value your feedback very much (see the links to our Feedback page). If there is enough interest in the Sycamore project, then we hope to make some new films with improved input and interviews, based on experience and on your feedback.

For more information about how to run Sycamore, see the links below:

How to run Sycamore 1: Background

How to run Sycamore 2: Overview

How to run Sycamore 3: Preparation and planning

How to run Sycamore 4: The structure of each session

How to run Sycamore 5: Group discussions

How to run Sycamore 6: Optional Retreat Day

How to run Sycamore 7: Follow up

How to run Sycamore 8: The prayer team

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