In his book, Destination Community, Rick Howerton describes authenticity in small groups as

…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.