Even faithful members of a small group struggle with sin. Maybe it is the constant urging to spend money we don't have. Or, gossiping, lying, or stretching a plain story to make a fantastic one. Perhaps it is the lure of sexual indiscretion, or marital unfaithfulness. The temptation of sin menacingly threatens to destroy every Christian. The wonderful thing about small group ministry is that we are there for each other; accepting each member despite our differences, encouraging one another and praying that sin's hold may be loosed. How can we know if someone in our group is struggling and what should we do? The following are some clues to look for if you suspect a small group member is in the heat of a spiritual battle:
- He will arrive late and leave early more frequently. Often times the most intimate sharing takes place before or after the meeting. By being late or leaving early he avoids being a part of accountable fellowship.
- A lack of group participation. She won't discuss the lesson and passes if asked to share.
- Prayer time is a struggle. Watch body language, fidgeting, getting up to go to the bathroom, or nodding off to sleep.
- Defensive body language and tone. If the study calls for too much self revelation or personal challenge you may hear, "This is stupid." or, "I don't appreciate this author's assumption." Look for crossed arms, lack of eye contact, yawning, an air of boredom.
- Informal group gatherings are avoided. She is distancing herself from the group. Christian friends may remind her of her sin. Perhaps new friends are pulling her away or she doesn't want to risk the chance of being confronted by a group member.
When you observe these signs of a spiritual conflict you can:
- Model vulnerability and transparency. Be open about your own struggle with sin.