Facilitator's major tasks

 

·       Pass onto a newcomer the method of Centering Prayer.

v                 Welcome them into the group,

v                 At some convenient time and place which may be either during the group time or at a different time, perhaps for coffee, introduce them to the method of Centering Prayer

v                 Instruct a newcomer in the basic method of Centering Prayer and,

v                 Give them the Method brochure and,

v                 Inform them of the next introductory workshop in the area and encourage them to attend,

v                 Recommend they read Open Mind, Open Heart, and

v                 Give name to coordinator for inclusion in the mailing list. 

 

·       Structure & facilitate a weekly group

 

·                    Pre-meeting tasks:

v                 Prepare the environment:

·                    Check with facility office to make sure there’s no conflict

·                    Room open,  and clean, quiet as possible

·                    Chairs in a circle or other welcoming format

·                    If needed, prepare VCR (working), tv monitor and video tape (cue it)

 

v                 Create a vestibule – a way to transition from activity to silence

·                    Without a vestibule, people will socialize.  Examples of a way to transition into centering prayer space include:

  • Music.

  • Silence.

  • Short Reading.

  • Stretching.

  • An agreement to start in silence.

  • An agreement to start on time. 

 

·                    During meeting tasks:

·                    Gently and firmly keep group on the agreed structure. 

·                    Remind group of the agreed structure for the group whenever a new member joins the group.  Distribute to the new member at the beginning of the meeting the written agreement and verbally summarize it as well with all members present.  This is a brief reminder to all.  

 

·                    Follow-up

·        On newcomers to teach them the method and to refer to a full intro to Centering Prayer

·        If questions or problems in the group have arisen, consult with coordinator, another group facilitator or commissioned presenter. 

·        Follow up on group business items.  (tapes, books, retreats, the curriculum choice) 

·        Think about what happened in the group.

·        Keep a notebook of difficult questions

·        Give a report occasionally to the host church’s pastoral leadership and stay in touch with the coordinator and attend chapter meetings. 

·        Check in with group members occasionally to see how the group is for them. 

·        Pray for group members daily and encourage members to do the same. 

 

Group Formats

 

There are several formats generally used.    What is common to all group formats is:

Ø      Experience

Ø      Understand

Ø      Share

 

EXPERIENCE:

1)      The experience of Centering Prayer as currently taught by Contemplative Outreach is the basis of all groups in affiliation with Contemplative Outreach.

2)      Review the guidelines with attendees occasionally, especially when there are new persons to be joined to the group.

3)      Vestibule for the prayer could be a very short reading. 

4)      Begin perhaps with a brief intentional prayer.  A prayer to bless and strengthen the intention of all members to consent to God’s presence and action.  Not necessarily devotional prayer.

5)      The prayer period may become so soothing & habitual that a reminder as to why we are here helps to set the right tone.  EG: We’re here to practice Centering Prayer.  Here to consent together to the presence and action of God within each of us. 

6)      Announce start of prayer by saying ‘let us pray’ or ‘we’ll now begin the prayer period’ or ring a bell. 

7)      End with bell, or Our Father or another appropriate prayer.  Allow for a gentle transition. 

8)      Possibly end the meeting period with a short prayer of dismissal.  One beautiful and simple prayer is “May the help of God be always with us.”  and the answer is "And with our absent brothers and sisters." 

 

UNDERSTANDING

1)      Deepen each member's understanding of the conceptual background of the prayer and by doing so, nourish their practice of the prayer and God's action in life. 

1)      Sources include Father Thomas' videotapes and books and articles.

4)      Brevity helps.  Many tapes are too long -- perhaps 25- 30 minutes is better in most cases. 

 

 

SHARING

1)      Keep the sharing on experience in Centering Prayer, or on the effects of Centering Prayer in daily life or on the conceptual background material

2)      Keep the sharing brief and non-argumentative and pertinent to Centering Prayer. 

3)      Refer to the consensus to keep the conversation non-argmentative.  The purpose is fundamentally to share with others what God is doing in their lives. 

 

 

v     SHARING – An introduction

 

1)      One phrase that can help set the tone.  "If you had an experience of God's activity in your life, something that actually happened to you not something you read about or heard about or saw in a movie but something that actually happened to you, perhaps during a prayer period or when you were doing something else, now is the time to share it, if you like.   Please share this experience briefly.   We also welcome your silence as God speaks to us in the silence also." 

2)      Go around room, one by one.  Then open discussion. 

3)      Personal faith sharing comes from one’s own experience not abstract ideas. 

4)      Personal experience is most effectively expressed in the first person, i.e. using ‘I’ statements rather than ‘you’ or ‘we’ or ‘they’. 

5)      Sharing implies acceptance and not judgement. 

6)      Any rebuttal, evaluation or judgement about a person’s sharing should be avoided.

7)      Advice is generally not really needed. 

8)      The atmosphere during a sharing should be non-judgmental accepting with support whatever a person offers. 

9)      A group should cultivate the conviction that faith sharing helps to identify God’s presence in our active lives and helps strengthen each other’s faith. 

10)  This form of group spiritual conversation is not meant to replace personal direction or counseling psychotherapy or other means of personal growth and support.

11)  The meetings are not normally problem solving sessions, Bible study, doctrinal discussion theological study, or group psychotherapy. 

12)  If a person is compelled to share some difficulty, accept and support it as an issue of faith and love.  Our fellowship grows with regular expressions of love on e member to another.

13)  Respect everyone’s sharing as confidential and do not repeat it outside a group.