What is CFM? What makes CFM different from other small faith communities or study groups?
Peer ministry - CFM is a peer ministry that includes the whole family. CFM members share life, faith and best practices, build friendships, and participate in actions together to positively shape the world in which they live. Children are witnesses to multiple families trying to live their faith. CFM takes place in the heart of the domestic Church. The local nature makes it beneficial in every situation.
Formation of families - CFM uses the social inquiry method of observe, judge, act (OJA) as the framework for discussion through which members can grow in virtue and the spiritual life. The training and formation of members occurs through a method by which the group works through life questions, rather than by listening to one speaker. The result is the training/formation of the members in prudence or making wise decisions.
Action - CFM groups are not only discussion groups. They are action groups. The OJA methodology guides members to a way of life that is intentional and proactive, effecting growth and change and not merely discussion. The actions change the families who participate as well as bring Christ into the environments of which they are a part.
- Welcoming accompaniment - CFM builds community and has been helping families to build life-long friendships for over 70 years -- friendships that are welcoming and that inspire an active faith.
Is CFM just for Catholics?
CFM is for Catholics, but not only Catholics. The Christian Family Movement strives to create a welcoming environment for all members to explore and deepen their faith and invite others to do the same. CFM program materials are Catholic and inclusive of interchurch families as well as the unchurched. Each member is encouraged to deepen his or her relationship with God. Since meetings are held in the home environment, CFM is a comfortable setting for mixed faith couples to discover ways to express and act on the values they have in common. Children witness a unity of purpose in their parents. Meetings are written from the lived experience of CFM members and are approved by CFM's national chaplain. (The U.S. Catholic Bishops recommend CFM in their documents, Follow the Way of Love and Called and Gifted for the Third Millennium, as well as in their planning materials for the National Pastoral Initiative on Marriage.)
Is everyone welcome to join?
Yes! CFM recognizes there are many people who would enjoy and benefit from a discussion of current topics through the lens of the family. CFM welcomes the participation of people of all family types (dual parents, single parents, widowed, engaged and married couples), as well as all cultures and races. In CFM, you belong to a family of families!
What happens at a CFM meeting and how often do you meet?
Members gather in each other’s homes (preferred) or in a parish setting for a social inquiry (questions on a topic affecting families in society) and use the Jocist Method (observe, judge, act). Meetings are about 1 1/2-2 hours, including prayer, reflection on the Scriptures and social time. Groups are encouraged to gather twice monthly, once as adults for the meeting and the second time as families for a social, spiritual or service activity. These gatherings might be formally scheduled or more spontaneous, such as celebrating Sacraments or other milestones, or helping one another with projects, etc. Groups often meet formally for the academic year and informally over the summer.
What is the Observe, Judge, Act method of missionary discipleship?
CFM members learn and practice the observe/judge/act (OJA) method of missionary discipleship, the "Jocist Method,” pioneered by Servant of God, Cardinal Joseph Cardijn, founder of the Young Christian Worker Movement in Belgium. In his encyclical, Mater et Magistra, Pope John XXIII affirms the process of observe (see), judge, act as a way of reading and responding to the signs of the times: "There are three stages which should normally be followed in the reduction of social principles into practice. First, one reviews the concrete situation; secondly, one forms a judgement on it in the light of these same principles; thirdly, one decides what in the circumstances can and should be done to implement these principles. These are the three stages that are usually expressed in the three terms: observe, judge, act."
How does CFM include children?
Whether to have children present at the CFM action group meetings is a decision made by each CFM group. Most groups meet for the Social Inquiry only as adults, and during the meeting the members plan social activities and service projects that include the whole family. The adults take what they discussed in their meeting home to their family for further discussion. Some groups have a babysitter present at their meetings to oversee children as they play nearby. Some groups plan activities for children during their meeting that relate to the adult discussion topic. It is appropriate to include children in the Opening and Closing Prayer as well as the social time of the meeting. CFM does have some program guides which incorporate children into the meeting.
What is a movement?
Movements in the Catholic Church are made up of members following a specific way of Christian life. For the CFM member, this entails living the observe, judge, act way of life. CFM is an officially recognized movement in the Catholic Church and is in harmony with the teachings of the Magisterium.
It feels intimidating to “join” a movement. Can I just buy the materials and participate for a limited amount of time?
CFM program materials are not for sale and are free to members. Money received is a person’s investment in exploring or affirming the observe, judge act method/way of life. CFM does not require a long-term commitment, though many people have chosen that and develop life-long friendships and learn a powerful way of life. CFM asks people to renew their membership every year to support and expand the mission of the movement. Joining CFM can be seasonal or a time-limited experience. The introductory book is an 8-meeting inquiry.
How widespread is CFM?
When families join the Christian Family Movement (CFM), they become part of the national lay movement that is CFM-USA, a national network of small groups of Catholics/Christians and their families. CFM-USA is part of an even broader international movement, the International Confederation of Christian Family Movements (ICCFM) which was established in 1966. ICCFM has a membership of over 98,000 families and is present in 37 countries.
How do I start a new group?
Invite some friends to try CFM with you. Dues for new members is just $10/family. Encourage the members to take turns hosting a meeting and sharing the tasks of coordinating. We recommend meeting once or twice a month, more frequently when you are getting organized. See this page for tips for meetings. Here are ideas for social events and service to others. Our goal is to be missionary disciples of Jesus who take concrete action for his mission.
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