Small groups are often fun and engaging, but how does a group help us change in ways that really matter? I want to suggest that God typically uses three things in a healthy group to facilitate our spiritual development. A healthy group helps each person change when we are honest, when we apply the Scriptures, and when we listen to other believers.
We need to be real and be honest if we want to become more like Christ. If we want the group to help us with a particular sin habit, we should be able to talk about that. If we want the group to help us understand the Bible, we should be honest that we aren't biblically literate. If we are having a hard time establishing spiritual disciplines like prayer and personal Bible reading, we should ask others in the group for help.
We should be honest with ourselves and with others if we want them to help us change. If we live in a community of people who hide and cover their faults, we won't be able to help them. We should invite our fellow group members to show us who they really are. From financial problems to sexual addictions to an insatiable need to gossip to a burning resentment toward an ex-spouse, most of us have issues that we would be horrified if others knew. But as long as we hide our real issues, we probably won't change much.
Garry Poole, author of Seeker Small Groups, likes to start new groups by asking the participants, "If you could ask God one question, what would it be?" He hands out slips of paper and asks each group member to write down the question, then he spends the next several weeks working through those questions. That's one way to communicate that we are serious about talking about what's really on our minds.
I wonder how many ...