Guidelines for Faithfulness Groups (also known as Peer Groups and Spiritual Accountability Groups)
Faithfulness Group participants provide each other holy accompaniment and mutual accountability in being faithful.
• The purpose of the Faithfulness Group meetings is to help pay attention to God’s presence and activity in the life of Friends who are attempting to be faithful in service, witness, daily life, following a leading, or carrying out a ministry. The Faithfulness Group practices provide mutual ongoing support and help with discernment for the members of the group.
• During a typical two-hour session, two people will each have the focus of the group for about one hour. Each focus person presents something about her/his experience in their efforts to be faithful.
• The role of the group is to prayerfully listen and, as prompted by the Spirit, to ask questions after each presentation that can help presenters explore more deeply their relationship to, awareness of, and response to God in carrying out service, ministry, or witness.
• Ideally, the group meets on an ongoing basis; in rotation, each member of the group will have a regular opportunity to be the focus of the group’s prayerful attention.
Attached is a pdf file of the guidelines used for faithfulness groups: Faithfulness Group guidelines 17d
Here is a link to a one-hour audio recording of an actual faithfulness group session. It can be helpful for people new to the faithfulness group process to listen to this session to get a sense of the atmosphere of holy accompaniment. It is best to listen to this when you will have a quiet, uninterrupted hour.
A Guide to Faithfulness Groups, by Marcelle Martin, was published by Inner Light Books in 2019. It describes the Quaker experience of being led by the Spirit to particular tasks, calls, and ministries. It also describes a range of practices we can use to help one another notice the movements of the Spirit within us and our lives; discern the leadings of the Spirit; discover what might cause us to resist; and open ourselves to the inner and outer support we need to live faithful lives. Deep listening is one of the foundational practices. Others include Evoking Questions, Mirroring, Using Images, and more. Gathering on a regular basis in Faithfulness Groups is a wonderful way to use these practices with one another in service to Spirit-filled living.
To “listen” another’s soul into a condition of disclosure and discovery may be almost the greatest service that any human being ever performs for another.–Douglas Steere