We attend church services and small group meetings with masks on, concealing our sinfulness from ourselves and the rest of the group. The church, the one place where we should be able to admit our imperfections, is the place we feel we must act perfect. But "all are sinners." A hidden sinful life-style poisons a person from within. Unexpressed sin holds the person in bondage to it. Confession may be the key to taking off the masks.
Does the word confession make you uncomfortable? Do you think only of priests in small, dark booths? True, we evangelical Christians are not "into" confession. But there it is, in James 5:16: "Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed." Scripture emphasizes confession in other places as well, from Adam to the Levitical priests to the psalmist to the prophets to the New Testament church.
The best setting for learning about and eventually practicing Christian confession is in the small group. People are more likely to confess their sins among just a few people whom they trust, who can hold them accountable, and who can be held accountable.
This isn't going to happen in your first meeting, and maybe not even in your twenty-first. Accountability and trust, the prerequisites to confession, take time.
With these things in mind, here are five things you can do to make confession a natural part of your small group.
1. Know one another. Community-building is an essential part of your meeting. Icebreaker questions help. So do application questions in the Bible study that ask people their opinions and feelings. As people get to know each other, they will be more comfortable with one another. Then they will begin to trust one another.
2. Be transparent. Usually the ...