The past few weeks have certainly seen many of the mighty fall. Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, Steve McNair, oh yeah…Michael Jackson (could you have missed that one on the news?). While many conversations have taken place around the water coolers and social media sites, most of them I have noticed have not been very redemptive. At times when our heroes fall, there are so many mixed emotions. We think back to a show, a poster, a game, a song, and it brings back so many memories. It also evokes emotions, and emotions can be powerful forces indeed. When emotions are heightened, people are listening. People are more open. And at such times, it would be great if someone could step into the conversation and be redemptive. Bring the Larger Story to bear. Express struggles, confusion, doubts, and listen to others do the same. And NOT have all the answers…especially the nicely packaged religious answers. Usually the right questions will lead people who are not Christ-followers on a journey to answers for themselves. What do you think this guy valued in life? Who do you think was important to him or her? What are you learning from those who are now coping with the loss of this person? What does the loss of this great person show us about our own hopes and desires? Without a lot of work, you’ve even got a great small group meeting in the making. Hey, people are listening already and ready to talk. I can’t think if a better way to honor the memory of our heroes than to allow their lives to be a bridge to redemption for someone who’s still in the battle.
December 11, 2008
…the willingness to openly share our pasts as well as what is continually unfolding in our present spiritual journeys. Small-group members will know they are living lives of authenticity when they are ready for their personal stories to be revealed…the good and the bad, the successes, struggles, and embarrassments.
It occurred to me recently that it wasn’t until I was ready to get real with God that I began to get real with my small groups. When I became desperate enough, through my brokenness, all inhibitions crumbled, and I dared to shake my fist at God and accuse him of abandoning me–when I allowed myself to name what I was feeling–that’s when I finally got real with God. And His response floored me…He spoke tenderly. As I allowed my heart to be heard at last, God initiated me into a healing journey and in the most amazing way, when I got real with God, God became real to me.
How many of our small groups encourage a posture of getting real with God and with each other? Would you feel comfortable with a group member accusing God of being a liar? Would you call that person sacreligious…a heretic? Yet Jeremiah did just that in Jer. 20:7.
O Lord, you deceived me, and I was deceived; you overpowered me and prevailed. I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me.
The level to which group members are able to be authentic or to get real with God, is the level of redemptive community the group will experience. What are some ways you have been able to invite group members into deep authenticity? How have you seen a person be transformed by getting real with God after finally giving up of trying to “defend” Him?
Below is a poll to gauge the level of authenticity in your small group. Answer the question honestly (there’s that idea of being real again) then check back in a week or so and I’ll post the results along with some thoughts on how to invite groups into a deeper level of authenticity.