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What is the Observe, Judge, Act method of missionary discipleship?

CFM members learn and practice is the observe/judge/act method of missionary discipleship, the "Jocist Method," first pioneered by Cardinal Joseph Cardijn, founder of the Young Christian Worker Movement in Belgium. Through the application of this method, CFM families grow in holiness at home and become involved in helping others in such ministries as foster-parenting, prison ministry, refugee sponsorship, religious education and couple counseling.

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 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."

Is CFM just for Catholics?

CFM is a Catholic lay movement. The U.S. Catholic Bishops recommend CFM in their pastoral documents, Follow the Way of Love and Called and Gifted for the Third Millennium. CFM is a member of the National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers, NACFLM. The small-group program materials are Catholic and inclusive of inter-church families, too. 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. Each member is encouraged to deepen his or her relationship with God. The Christian Family Movement is a concrete expression of the family as "domestic church" in which members live their faith actively. 

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. See General Leader Directions -  "How to Start and Lead CFM."

Do we have to join? Could we just buy the materials? CFM_picnic_group_shot_2015_-fagan.jpeg

It is sometimes hard to understand the difference between CFM and the other types of Adult Faith Formation programs that are available. The best way to explain it is that CFM members are part of a larger worldwide organization rather than just purchasers of discussion guides. Since Christian Family Movement is a membership organization and not a publisher, we ask that people join our organization every year (similar to other organizations you might join every year). The discussion materials are provided as a benefit of membership, along with the monthly ACT newsletter. You can elect to receive the weekly Marriage Moments and Parenting Pointers emails (optional). That is why we ask members to complete the renewal form each year, so that we know who our members are and can send them our newsletter and other helpful information for their journey of faith.

What happens at a CFM meeting?

Members gather in each other’s homes, as frequently as weekly or once a month. Some groups meet at the parish. Beginning with prayer and reflection on Scripture, they discuss topics of interest to people committed to Christian family life. Depending on the group’s needs and interests, they have the option of selecting a Program title from CFM’s Program library. After each CFM meeting, the members enjoy social time and follow through on their discussion with some action, as individuals, as families, as groups, or in cooperation with a parish or community organization.

Involving the kids?

Some groups meet only with the adults, and during the meeting the members plan actions that include the whole family at another time. 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. Whether or not children accompany their parents to the CFM meeting, adults learn how to continue the discussion at home and include their children in their actions of education, service, and prayer. 

What makes CFM different from other small faith communities or study groups?

CFM is unique because it is peer ministry – lay men and women invite their friends to join them in a faith building and family enriching experience. The group does not require a parish staff facilitator, but clergy are welcome to participate. CFM involves the whole family. Adults plan ways to include their children in the actions and social events they organize at their meetings. CFM members become part of a network of families all over the world who are living their faith in action. CFM teaches members to see themselves as a vital part of the Body of Christ, engaging them in the mission of Jesus.

The larger vision of CFM is the M part, the movement. CFM at its heart is reaching out to new people, not only staying as a devoted small group of friends. CFM does not necessarily have to be a long-term ongoing commitment. Instead, CFM can be a seasonal or time-limited experience of faith formation that connects families with others in their life-situations and teaches them how to Observe their lives and society, Judge how Christians should respond, and then put their faith into practice. New members can plug into a CFM group. They may be young parents, married couples, families with single parents, or grandparents: CFM has program materials that lend themselves to these kinds of groups. Experienced CFM members facilitate the formation of these new groups as a service to families. After a few years, CFM members who do not move into leadership roles go on to become active in other parish or community ministries. They are launched. Many, many people who are now active in ministry in the Catholic community – both lay and ordained -- got their start in a CFM experience.

Is there a CFM group near me that my family can join?

The CFM office can assist you in connecting with CFMers in your area. Check out Locations of Groups


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