Article written by Alex Pankiw

What is a Faith Sharing Group?

  • Simply put, a faith-sharing group is a group of individuals who are seeking to enter deeper into their faith while focusing on a particular text or theme.
    • Examples might include:
      • A women’s faith sharing group on the Holy Rosary
      • A men’s faith sharing group on “The Imitation of Christ”
      • A young adult faith sharing group on Christus Vivit
    • More than a prayer, service, or bible study group, a faith-sharing group is like the church — it is all of the above.

Why Faith Sharing Groups?

  • Faith sharing groups offer the faithful an opportunity to explore the treasures of the faith, while also facilitating ways to share their spiritual lives and hopes.
  • Whether faith sharing takes place in a parish, school, or over Zoom, it creates a sense of belonging for the participants. Similarly, it offers participants a chance to slow down, recall the day or week in quiet time, as well as share and listen to the sharing of others.
  • Faith-sharing groups are also an excellent way to ‘dip your toe in the water’. They have the potential to be a wonderful tool for evangelization, offering a setting for friends and family who may not be involved in the Church to find a place to feel welcome and begin (or resume) their faith journey.

What Happens at Faith Sharing Groups?

  • There are a number of things one can expect from a faith sharing group.
    • Prayer: We begin and conclude faith sharing with prayer, recognizing that God is present with us.
    • Sharing: One of the most powerful experiences that comes from a faith sharing group is the actual sharing. Do not be afraid to share, but do not feel pressured to share either. This is an opportunity to deepen our faith, while also understanding God’s love for each of us.
    • Mutual Support: Despite sometimes feeling alone in our struggles, a faith sharing group reminds us that we are not alone, and that we can count on one another to help us live holy lives.
    • Continued Learning: We seek to learn more about God through Sacred Scripture, Magisterial (Church) teaching, Patristics (Church Mothers and Fathers), and the Liturgy.
    • Outreach: We are called by God to live in communion with one another. By reaching out to others, we express God’s love to others, and share in the mission of Jesus.


Faith Sharing vs. Faith Teaching – What’s the Difference?

  • It is a well-known principle in education: people remember the things they discover for themselves far longer than the things they are taught.
  • What does this mean for facilitators? It means our goal should be to build a community and help people truly grow in their faith. We need to create an environment which group members aren’t fed facts but are encouraged to discover deep truths for themselves.
  • This also means that as a facilitator, we don’t need to be Scripture scholars, or to have an education degree. Rather, it is important to journey with participants, expressing a willingness to learn and grow deeper in our faith together.

Norms and Guidelines for Faith Sharing Groups

    • What is the role of a facilitator?
      • Encourage participation and the sharing
      • Encourage prayer
      • Create an atmosphere of hospitality and trust among the participants
      • Logistics – reminders of dates and locations, start and stop meeting on time.
      • Keep the group on topic if there is one, (unless the Holy Spirit is leading the group elsewhere).
    • What is not the role of the facilitator?
      • Theologian: While participants in faith sharing groups may have a background in theology, or you yourself may have a background in theology, it is best to direct theological questions outside of the group (e.g. parish priest, Catechism (Catholic or Christ our Pascha), Vatican resources, etc.).
      • Counsellor: A faith sharing group is not an appropriate place to handle emotionally intense feelings such as depression, anxiety, or extreme anger. If a participant moves in this direction, the facilitator should bring the discussion back to faith-sharing. Privately one might recommend further counselling. It is a good idea to know about services that are available locally.
    • What are some guidelines for a faith sharing group?
      • Often at the beginning of each session, it is a good idea to reiterate the guidelines for the faith sharing group:
        • Observe confidentiality – what is said in the group stays in the group.
        • We will respect the definite beginning and end time that we have set.
        • Everyone has something important to say. We will remember not to dominate the sharing time.
        • Use faith sharing questions to keep sharing on track.
        • Members of the group do not need to respond to another person’s sharing/lived experience.
        • Do not interrupt one another.
        • Silence is a vital part of faith-sharing. Be comfortable with it. It leaves room for the Holy Spirit to enter the conversation.
        • It is okay for participants to pass on certain questions or discussions. While everyone is encouraged to participate and respond, it is by no means obligatory.
      • The following is a general format for small faith sharing groups.
        • Opening Prayer
        • Introduction – check in – how was your week? How did you find the reading? Did anything jump out at you or speak to you?
        • Read and Share – focus on the reflection questions
        • Living Our Faith – discuss ways to bring the new insights we have gained into our daily lives in the coming weeks – journaling exercise – action oriented
        • Closing Prayer – you may want to include intentions of the group in this prayer
      • Ultimately what is important is finding an overall structure that suits the needs of the group