Small Groups: "Faith Circles" - Small Christian Communities
Piloted by St Raphael Catholic Church
St Petersburg, FL
5-2-17 Tom Andry/jkm
Our parish uses the term “Faith Circles” to describe our Small Groups/Small Christian Communities. Our Faith Circles gather 4-10 people to regularly pray together and study together. The goal in joining a Faith Circle is to develop friendships and to understand, live and share our Catholic faith.
Our Faith Circles were an outgrowth of our Bible Study Community that has been in existence for many years. In our Bible study community we break out into small groups of about 6-9 at the same table for discussions. Some of these table groups wanted to continue meeting after the official Bible study ended. They began using video-based study programs listed below. Most of the faith circles meet in individual members’ homes, some meet in classrooms at the parish. Some faith circles also used remote meeting capability using video conferencing applications like “ZOOM.”
The Bible Study has a “core team.” consisting of those who help facilitate small group sharing at individual tables. At the same time other groups in the parish had been doing devotions like the Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary. Some of the Bible study tables decided to do the Consecration together. Thus began what would later be called “Faith Circles”.
Many Faith Circles use the Augustine Institute’s FORMED (www.formed.org) as the catalyst and focus material for their circles.
Below are some of the video-based study programs the Faith Circles used (ALL ARE ON FORMED). Although a Faith Circle could use other content from FORMED, this order was found to be very beneficial to help small group members improve their spiritual life, develop a sense of community and encourage further evangelization.
- 33 Days to Morning Glory - Fr. Michael Gaitley
- Consoling the Heart of Jesus - Fr. Michael Gaitley
- Divine Mercy in the Second Greatest Story Ever Told - Fr. Michael Gaitley
- Wisdom and Works of Mercy - Fr. Michael Gaitley
- The Wild Goose - 4PM Media featuring F. Dave Pivonka
- Opening the Word - Various presenters coincides with the weekly Gospels
Tips for Great Faith Circles:
- Get pastoral approval and support.
- Prayer is the most important ingredient. Pray as you are discerning to start Faith Circles. Pray for those who you will ask to lead or facilitate. Pray as your circles form. Have masses said for the intention of your community or group.
- Develop or plug in to the committed parish members that are available to be faith circle “leaders” - NOTE - leaders basically have to be able to push the “play” button on the computer or DVD player. They are facilitators of the small group. Many Faith Circles have 2 leaders/facilitators.
- Offer Faith Circles seasonally. A six week Faith Circle over the summer, during fall/advent, winter, Lent or Spring makes it easy for people to join and commit. Taking a break of a week or two before the next circle is advised.
- Subscribe to FORMED. Learn more or subscribe to FORMED at www.formed.org Individual DVD series are also available if your parish does not subscribe to FORMED.
- Faith Circle “leaders” meet regularly (suggest monthly) to pray together (attending daily mass and adoration, praying rosary and or chaplet together are suggestions), select study topics, and handle any issues or questions.
- Invite, Invite, Invite. A personal invitation to family, friends, fellow parishioners and neighbors is the best way to bring people into a Faith Circle. When Faith Circles grow to more than 12 people, split the group in two so that new people can always be joining.
- Other various Faith Circles on different days and times so many in the parish can join in.
- Have fun! Trust in the Holy Spirit to lead the whole process.
We would be happy to speak with you about starting Faith Circles at your parish:
Emissary Service Team:
Marybeth Finster “Finster” firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Fay email@example.com 727-259-5080
Tom & Deborah Andry firstname.lastname@example.org 727-488-8439
Kristin Leary email@example.com 727-667-0616
Barbara Alderfer, Prayer support firstname.lastname@example.org 260-580-0484