Do the people in your group really know each other? Do they laugh together and cry together? Do they share their inner thoughts and feelings in an atmosphere of reciprocal transparency? Intimacy doesn't come easy these days. People hide behind perfectly flawless exteriors, vocational accomplishment, and popular plaudits. Beneath the purposefully placed masks, all of us long to know each other and to be known. We, as leaders of small groups, have a perfect opportunity to open that door of inclusive intimacy.
Sometimes, as leaders of a Bible study, we are so focused on the Scripture lesson we forget to give people a chance to share their life stories. Often people will not contribute to the Bible study portion of a group meeting because they are afraid of having the wrong answer and looking stupid. Consequently, there are people in all of our groups who rarely say a word, and the barriers hindering open-hearted intimacy still stand between us. Nothing will enhance deep friendship and, in turn, spiritual growth more than the sharing of our stories, little by little. Every time our group meets we should consciously provide each person an opportunity to talk about himself or herself in a nonthreatening way.
Here are six questions you can use as springboards for beginning to breakdown the barriers of alienation and building bridges of friendship:
- What was the best gift you ever gave? received?
- How would you describe your present family life? Unsolved Mysteries, Days of Our Lives, Touched by An Angel, 60 Minutes, ER. Explain your answer.
- Tell of a time when you directly, with absolute knowledge, disobeyed your parents. What happened as a result of your disobedience?
- What has brought you the most joy in the last five years? the most grief?