While we sit in rows in traditional church settings, it’s in circles that we grow as disciples. All the evidence from around the world demonstrates that we move closer to God and deeper in our relationship with Jesus as members of welcoming, inclusive, energised small groups. In fact, there is a rich tradition of such a style of learning, with Torah observant Jews seldom studying their sacred texts alone but rather with peers in social or communal gatherings known as havruta (fellowship). In havruta, a group of peers wrestle to understand the meaning of passages and concepts and discuss how to apply this knowledge to their own lives.
Faith Circles are small groups. They might meet in someone’s home, a coffee shop, a pub, a community hall, in the park while the kids play. The setting isn’t important, so much as disciples listening attentively to each other and feeling able to express themselves openly. The focus here is not to show others how much you know, but rather to grow in God and to journey with others as they do the same.
Faith Circles are distinct from many faith formation activities in that they are organic, dynamic and group lead. They usually have a coordinator that pulls the Circle together but not a single teacher or authority or leader. Disciples participate openly and equally, learning from the experiences of others as much as the group’s resources. This takes patience, an open heart and an open mind. Settling into a group norm can take time, but the benefits are well worth the effort.
Vision 2022 has sparked within our parish a renewed focus on discipleship and mission. Faith Circles are integral to the future vitality of our community of faith.