COUPLES FOR CHRIST
WHAT IS ‘COUPLES FOR CHRIST’
Couples for Christ (CFC) is a work of Christ which raises up Christian couples and establishes Christian families committed to the work of evangelization and winning the world for Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.
WHERE AND HOW DID COUPLES FOR CHRIST BEGIN?
CFC began in 1981 in Manila when a local Christian community tried out a new approach in evangelizing married couples. The method used consisted of bringing together a small group of prospective couples in a private home. There they were brought to a living relationship with Jesus Christ and to a renewal of the power of the Holy Spirit through a series of weekly informal discussions of the gospel in a social setting. Soon, CFC became a Christian family life renewal programme made available to parishes and groups of married couples who wished to live out their Christian life in an active, supportive relationship with one another. Through the years, CFC has blossomed into a worldwide ministry, becoming a major force for the renewal of Christian family life and also of the church.
WHY IS SUCH A MINISTRY NECESSARY?
It is Gods plan that the family be the basic unit of society, such that the condition of families determines the condition of society. However, there are many forces in the world today that would, wittingly or unwittingly, destroy the very foundations of the family. CFC wants to rise in defense of the family, which is God’s work. CFC wants to bring God’s strength and light to those who are struggling to be truly Christian families in the modern world.
HOW DOES COUPLES FOR CHRIST INTEND TO WORK FOR CHRISTIAN FAMILY RENEWAL?
CFC intends to carry out its work by focusing on three specific objectives:
- Individual renewal Before one can consider the whole family, the husband and wife first need to renew their commitment to God. CFC takes the basic message of Christianity and proclaims it anew so that those who hear it can make a renewed commitment to God, in a way which will allow them to receive a fuller experience of the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
- Family renewal As couples renew their commitment to God, they also renew their commitment to one another and to their Christian family life. Gradually, the new life that they find in the Lord filters down to all their family relationships.
- Church renewal As individual families are renewed, they form a network of equally committed Christian families, which not only support one another but also strengthen the Church of which they are members.
WHO CAN BECOME MEMBERS OF COUPLES FOR CHRIST?
Any validly married Christian couple can become members of CFC. CFC is a Catholic organisation, but is open to membership by Christians of other denominations. Couples need not have any specific religious or spiritual background. In addition, CFC has ministries for every other member of the family: kids, youth, singles, widows / widowers, separated, divorced. CFC draws its membership from all sectors of society – young and old, rich and poor, etc. CFC transcends all cultural, economic, educational, social, and other distinctions. CFC has spread rapidly from the Philippines to 89 countries around the world.
HOW DOES ONE BECOME A MEMBER OF COUPLES FOR CHRIST?
Those who want to join CFC go through a seminar, which is called a Christian Life Program (CLP). The CLP starts with an orientation session, and then goes through 12 weekly meetings, thus involving a total time period of 3 months. The weekly meetings are usually held in the evening and last about 2 ½ hours per session. For the youth, the entry point for membership is a three-day Youth Camp.
WHAT IS THE NATURE OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE PROGRAMME?
The CLP is an integrated course leading into a renewed understanding of God’s call to Christian couples. It is divided into 3 modules of 4 sessions each. Most sessions consist of a talk, group discussion, and some time for fellowship. The different topics of the talks are as follows:
- God’s love
- Who is Jesus Christ?
- What it means to be a Christian
- Repentance and Faith
- The Christian ideal: loving God
- Loving your neighbour
- The Christian Family
- Life in the Holy Spirit
- Receiving the power of the Holy Spirit
- Growing in the Spirit
- The Life and Mission of Couples for Christ
- Transformation in Christ (and Dedication)
The first module (the first 4 talks) presents the absolute basics of Christian life, with emphasis on our hearing it with an adult perspective. The second module (next 4 talks) presents the kind of life that God calls us to. It spells out the personal response involved in receiving Jesus as Lord and Saviour, and helps couples to make a reorientation of their lives around Jesus. The third module (last 4 talks) helps the couples to commit their lives in a serious way to Jesus. It helps them appropriate for their lives the power of the Holy Spirit. It provides the basis for continuing spiritual growth.
IS THERE ANY COST INVOLVED?
There are no fees or any monetary expenses required of participants. The only investment required is their time and their openness.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE CHRISTIAN LIFE PROGRAMME?
After the CLP, those who finish are invited to formally join Couples for Christ. When they do, they are made part of a small cell group called a ‘household’. A cell group, or household, is composed of about 5 to 6 couples that meet weekly for mutual support and encouragement in the Christian life, under the direction of a cell leader-couple.
WHAT IS THE NATURE OF A CELL GROUP OR ‘HOUSEHOLD’?
The purpose of the cell group is to build an environment for the support of the Christian life of couples, and to provide a means for encouraging and hastening spiritual growth. It provides friendship and brotherhood. It helps people to overcome obstacles to growth in the Christian life.
The household meeting is held in the homes of the group members, on rotation basis. A typical meeting would involve some time for prayer, a time for sharing or discussion, and finally some time for fellowship. It would normally last for about 2 ½ hours.
HOW ABOUT CHRISTIAN FORMATION?
Finishing the CLP is just the beginning, of a long process of growth and transformation in Christ. As such, CFC provides a continuing program of formation, which includes teachings, recollections, retreats, etc.
HOW IS COUPLES FOR CHRIST DIFFERENT FROM OTHER MOVEMENTS OR ORGANISATIONS?
CFC differs in a number of ways but the most significant are the following:
- It fosters deep spiritual renewal which involves personal conversion, developing a personal relationship with Jesus, and living in the power of the Holy Spirit.
- It focuses on the couple, with emphasis on husband and wife growing in their Christian lives. In addition, it has something for every member of the family, providing a ‘womb to tomb’ family ministry.
- It provides continuing support and formation, recognising that programmes can only plant a seed, but that growth is a long and difficult process. Indeed, CFC is not just an organisation but also a way of life.
- It concentrates on evangelization, reaching out to more and more couples, in line with the Church’s call for lay people to participate actively in the building of God’s kingdom on earth.
- Its work is wholistic and far-reaching. Territorially it is moving rapidly throughout the world (currently 89 countries) and intends continued expansion to other countries. It is involved in renewing the temporal order for all sectors of society.
IS COUPLES FOR CHRIST RECOGNISED BY THE CATHOLIC CHURCH?
Yes. CFC is a canonically recognised International Association of the Lay Faithful. In all parishes and dioceses and countries where it is established, CFC is fully recognised by and operates under the authority of parish priests and bishops. CFC is also recognised by the Holy See (Vatican) as one of the vibrant new ecclesial movements the Holy Spirit is raising up in the Church today. CFC sits on the Pontifical Council for the Family, and is approved through the Pontifical Council for the Laity.
WHAT BENEFITS CAN A PARISH DERIVE IN HAVING COUPLES FOR CHRIST?
There are a number of benefits:
- Couples are renewed and strengthened in their Christian lives. Strong couples make for strong families, which make for a strong parish.
- A basic CFC objective is to be relevant to the life of the Church, specifically in the parish. CFC members are expected to support their parish priest and be available for parish services.
- CFC provides many services useful for the life of the parish community. For example:
- Pre-marriage counseling
- Education in responsible parenting, including NFP.
- Work in poor areas
- Care for the sick, disabled and imprisoned
- Medical missions
- Work for justice and peace.
- CFC is a working model of the Basic Ecclesial Community (BEC) and can hasten the formation of a strong, vibrant parish community.