Catholic men's groups are gatherings of men, usually from the same parish, who get together to discuss their lives in the light of their Catholic faith and to share their faith and experiences through friendship, prayer, and fraternity.
Most groups generally meet for ninety minutes to pray, socialize, discuss their faith and the issues they are grappling with in their lives. They meet on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis (we recommend at least bi-weekly). They support, affirm, and share insights about the difficulties men encounter in both their home and work lives. They also seek God's help in dealing with the issues they confront every day. Members strive to reinforce Christian values in their home, reach out to share those values with others in their group, and support other men who are struggling to do the same.
Why join a men's group?
Most men who have attended a men's fellowship group quickly discover the benefits they offer. Men participating in such groups cultivate friendships among their fellow parishioners, have fun, and learn from one another how to be a better husband, father, son, employee, Christian man, and Catholic parishioner. Many men say they have grown by this experience, which has helped them to form stronger and happier families and to cope better with the stresses they encounter at work. Another reason for belonging to a small group of men is that the men in the group can support each other in their quest for living a Christian life (Proverbs 27:17).
It is confusing to be a man today, particularly a Christian man. There is a natural tension between the stereotypical male-the one many of us were taught to be, the male of the media-and the male that God calls men to be. Men are expected to play a variety of roles and to know how to bounce from one role to the other as the wind blows. The man of today is expected to be protective and hard working on the one hand, and gentle and supportive on the other. What is a man to do?
To further complicate matters, many sincere men are trying to reclaim aspects of their lives that in the past have been abdicated: spiritual leadership of the family; the ability to express love and emotion; and relationships with other men that don't have to flow from a mutual love for sports, work, or other "men stuff."
Just imagine what God can do with a group of men who will follow the Lord Jesus and take the risk of laying down their lives for one another in healthy Christian relationships.
What goes on in a men's group?
The format of a men's fellowship group needs to be tailored to the preferences and needs of the group. The following format is suggested, but each group should adapt it to be comfortable and workable for its group.
Music: This can be a recording or a shared song. Some groups may prefer not to start with music. Others may want to have 2-3 songs.
Opening Prayer: The prayer can be a brief prayer service planned by one of the men, a spontaneous prayer, or any form suitable to the group. The format doesn't matter as long as it is heartfelt and the meeting is started with prayer.
Scripture: Short passages in support of the discussion theme can be read by different men and comments on the readings are encouraged.
Review of previous week: Prior to beginning the discussion of the theme for this week, it is suggested that a few minutes be devoted to sharing how well each man did during the previous week, especially in following up on the key discussion points from the previous time together. Members are encouraged to describe the Lord's action in their lives through family, friends, and work, as well as answers to prayers. If any of the men are struggling with an issue, they may want to ask for the prayers of the group.
Discussion: If you are using a resource designed for discussions by faith groups, such as Signposts, How To Be a Catholic Man in the World Today, then you can use the discussion questions or plans outlined in the resource. Comments are "drawn out" relating to the theme for the week.
At the end of the discussion period, each man is encouraged to develop a plan of action for the coming week to follow-up on any aspects of the discussion that could be applied to his life. Keep it simple; one or two action steps are probably sufficient to address some area of weakness or some area that needs to be improved in your life.
Concluding Prayer: The meetings should always be closed with a prayer in which the participants may lift up their own needs. This would be a good time to pray for any of the men who need God's grace in an area. You may also want to close the meeting with the "Lord's Prayer".
Does a men's group need a facilitator?
A facilitator is of great value in leading a Catholic men's fellowship group. He need not be an expert in scripture or church doctrine, although some knowledge of both will be helpful. The facilitator does not function as a teacher. His primary responsibilities are to keep the group focused on the particular subject, to see that each man in the group has an opportunity to participate, and to keep the group discussions moving.
If the group is newly organized, we suggest that one person serve as facilitator. After the group has bonded and the men have become comfortable with each other, the facilitator's role may be rotated among the men who are interested in leading the discussions. This will prepare men to lead another group when the current group grows beyond say eight or ten men.
Tips for having a successful men's group
- Form teams of two who will call each other during the week to encourage one another.
- Using multiple translations of the Bible can sometimes be confusing. Discuss the desirability of using a standard Catholic translation such as the New American Bible.
- Encourage personal witnessing and "testimonies" to build faith among the men.
- While a predictable and comfortable format is helpful, flexibility is also necessary at times to adjust to an individual's needs.
- Start with a few moments of socializing and stop on time.
- Be ready to welcome new members to the group, and to break up into two groups if the original group grows too large.
*Note: Much of the material used above was adapted from the Introduction to Signposts, How To Be a Catholic Man in the World Today by Bill Bawdin and Tim Sullivan. A special thanks to The Word Among Us Press for allowing us to use this material.
You'll be surprised at what God will do through a small group of men who love him and one another.
I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourself to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2)
We are about to join a Catholic men's faith group already in progress. The men have warmly greeted one another and have had a brief period of fellowship. They are about to begin the meeting together with a prayer.
Each man decides for himself whether to pray aloud or in silence.
"Lord Jesus, I thank you for these men here tonight with me. They have inspired me to draw closer to you. I ask a special blessing on each of them and their families. I ask you to lead and guide each of us tonight as we share our lives together as brothers in Christ."
Brief Scripture readings are an important element of each meeting. Scripture readings are selected to support the topic or a theme being discussed.
"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witness in
During the discussion segment, the theme or meeting topic is presented. Some men participate verbally while others choose not to. Audiotapes, books, articles, and outside speakers enhance the discussion. Let's listen in on one of the sharings:
"I believe the power the Lord wants to give us is the power to live the abundant life. I gave my company to the Lord in December of 92. I just felt this needed to be done. I'd had been through a terrible year. People were unhappy. We walked and lived in defeat. If a little lie would get the order, we told a lie. And likewise, as we dedicated ourselves to the truth, the truth has spread throughout everything we do and throughout our lives. From a disparate group of people who were in competition with one another and treated one another with contentiousness all the time to a unified group that works together and looks out for one another. Our company has grown 6 fold since I gave it to the Lord. If you take a small risk for the Lord Jesus, He will take a big risk with you."
The meeting is closed with a prayer and possibly further intercession for specific needs of the men.
"...and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory now and forever. Amen."
How do I find a group to join?
There are many Catholic Men's Fellowships (CMF) throughout the
Excerpts from an Actual Men's Faith Group Meeting
Thousands of Catholic men are participating in men's faith groups all across the country. These groups offer men the opportunity to come together to socialize, build friendships, pray, share, and support one another.