SYNOPSIS OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE PROGRAM (CLP)
COUPLES FOR CHRIST
What is the Christian Life Program (CLP)?
The CLP is an integrated course intended to lead the program participants into a renewed understanding of God's call to them as Christian couples or individuals. It runs for a total of 13 separate sessions, usually held once a week. Most sessions consist of three basic ingredients: a teaching, a group discussion, and a time for fellowship. Each session would normally last for about 2 1/2 hours.
What are the goals of the CLP?
The CLP has two basic purposes: evangelism and spiritual renewal.
To evangelize is to take the basic message of Christianity and to proclaim it anew so that those who hear it can make a renewed commitment to the Lord in a way which will allow them to receive a fuller experience of the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
Spiritual renewal works in three ways:
1. For the individual, it brings a person into a stronger relationship with God by discovering and living more fully the power and gifts he or she received through the Holy Spirit.
2. For the family, it brings married couples to a renewed commitment to Christian family Life and it starts to build up a community of committed Christian families.
3. For the Church, it brings people within a particular parish to a fuller experience of life in the Spirit. Consequently, it strengthens and revitalizes community life in the parish.
What is the content of the CLP?
The CLP runs for a total of 13 consecutive sessions usually held weekly, divided into an orientation session and then 3 modules of 4 sessions each. The topics of the 12 sessions are:
Module No. 1: THE BASIC TRUTHS ABOUT CHRISTIANITY
1. God's Love
2. Who is Jesus Christ?
3. What it means to be a Christian
4. Repentance and Faith
Module No. 2: THE AUTHENTIC CHRISTIAN LIFE
5. The Christian Ideal: Loving God
6. Loving Your Neighbor
7. The Christian Family
8. Life in the Holy Spirit
Module No. 3: LIVING A SPIRIT‑FILLED CHRISTIAN LIFE
9. Receiving the Power of the Holy Spirit
10. Growing in the Spirit
11. The Life and Mission of the Couples of Christ
12. Transformation in Christ
What is the content of each of the above teachings?
GOD'S LOVE speaks about God's wanting to bring us out of the confusion and disorder that is being experienced in the modern world, and to bring us all back to Himself, to restore our fellowship and intimacy with Him. There is something seriously wrong with the situation of the world today, and behind most of the disorder and evil is Satan. Only God can bring us out of this, and He has done it by sending His own Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to suffer and die for us. Salvation has come to us in Jesus.
Realizing the absolute importance of this person Jesus Christ in our salvation from sin and Satan and our return to God, we naturally would want to know more about Him. And so we ask the question, "WHO IS JESUS CHRIST?". Being Christians, we just naturally take for granted our conviction that Jesus is the Son of God. But is he really worth paying attention to? Shouldn't he be on the same level as Buddha, Confucius, Mohammed, Socrates, or other wise men or moral teachers? Jesus was unique and has had a greater impact on the course of human events more than any other person. But what really set him apart was his claim to be God, which none of the other founders of great world religions ever claimed. With this claim, we can only look upon him as either a liar, a lunatic or in fact the Lord.
If we come away with the conviction that Jesus is indeed Lord, then we are confronted with his life and his words which demand a response from us. If we as Christians are to carry his name, then we need to live in a way that acknowledges his lordship over us. And so we want to learn WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A CHRISTIAN. This talk first dispels misconceptions or wrong notions about Christianity. It points out what it is not. Then it shows that the essence of Christianity is union with God, made possible through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. What makes us Christian is our loving, personal relationship with God, and our whole life becomes an expression of this relationship.
God has loved us. God sent His Son to die for us. He has gathered us unto Himself as His people. Christianity is something that God has initiated, unilaterally and unreservedly. In the light of all these, our proper response is REPENTANCE AND FAITH. And this is a double‑action response. Repentance and faith go together. Repentance involves a turning away from sin, wrongdoing and running our own lives, and a turning to a life of obedience to God. Faith, in turn, is belief in Jesus as our personal Savior.
The above four talks form the first module of the CLP, and has presented the absolute basics of Christian life. It is basically Christian theology. The next module, consisting of another four sessions, presents the kind of life that God calls us to. It spells out the personal response involved in receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior and helps couples to make a reorientation of their lives around Jesus.
The second module starts out with a talk on THE CHRISTIAN IDEAL: LOVING GOD. It is an explanation of the first and greatest commandment. It explains in detail what it really means to love God above all with all our heart, with all our mind and with all our strength.
The next talk deals with LOVING YOUR NEIGHBOR, which, together with loving God, forms the core of the Christian life. The talk contrasts God's love with the world's idea of love. Love is not only having positive feelings, not always saying "yes", not being defensive, not self‑seeking or manipulative. Rather, Christian love is connected with keeping God's commandments and means a self‑sacrificial love, best exemplified by Jesus himself. On the practical level, Christian love means service love. It is committed service to our fellow men.
Being a family‑oriented ministry, we then have a talk on THE CHRISTIAN FAMILY. Here the importance of the family in God's plan is stressed. The family is intended by God to be the basic unit of society, and as such, it is to be a place for teaching and training children and also the place for training leaders. But God's plan for our families is not happening, because God has lost His central place in the family, because the family itself is losing its importance, because of the fast life, and finally because the family is under attack by evil forces. The talk ends with practical advice on what can be done to build up a strong Christian family.
Finally, after learning what this new life that we are called to really means‑‑love of God, love of neighbor, building a Christian family‑‑we look at the one ingredient that makes it all possible. And that is the power from above which enables us to live a LIFE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT. True Christian living is not just a matter of human will power but a new heart, a new life from God. The Holy Spirit enables us to experience God, a living relationship with Him and His action in our lives. With the Holy Spirit, men again experience union with God and gain a new nature, spiritual power and power to serve.
The third and final module helps the couples to commit their lives in a serious way to Jesus Christ. And first of all this involves RECEIVING THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. This first session of the third module is essentially a prayer session where the participants are prayed with for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Some would term it the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
Then, recognizing that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is only a beginning, there is a need to learn more about how to grow in the life of the Spirit. Thus the participants are taught the basic means for GROWING IN THE SPIRIT. And the four basic tools for growth are prayer, study, service and fellowship.
Fellowship refers to almost everything that Christians do together as a body. It is the concretization of the spiritual reality that we belong to the same family. We do not become complete Christians by ourselves. And here we come to the need for coming together with other committed Christian families for mutual support and encouragement. Here is presented THE LIFE AND MISSION OF ‘COUPLES FOR CHRIST’. It gives the history of CFC, its statements of Mission and Philosophy, and a description of how support for Christian family life is carried out. An invitation to consider and pray about joining CFC is issued.
Finally, the last session wraps up the whole Christian Life Program which has started the process of TRANSFORMATION IN CHRIST. The participants are encouraged to persevere and live out actively the new life in the power of the Holy Spirit. And though the CLP has come to an end, the new life is just beginning. In order to grow, much more is needed. There is a need to learn more about the Christian life. There is a need for the strength and support of others. There is a need for a situation in which the couples can learn how to serve the Lord. Thus the couples are invited to join COUPLES FOR CHRIST. For those who have decided to do so, they make their commitment to CFC and are welcomed into the body.
Couples for Christ is a Vatican recognized international private association of the faithful and is a registered society under the Societies Act in Singapore.