Basic Strategies for Authentic Christian Community

Tips that can improve the atmosphere of new and veteran small groups
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Prayer Guidelines

Prayer allotment and patterns at times become the nemesis of group life. The allotted time for prayer is often consumed by a prayer concern discussion, not allowing proper time for prayer itself. How you as a group desire to use prayer time should be part of your covenant design. Will you include praying for the world, church, neighborhood, friends, or relatives? Or will your prayer time be spent focusing on each member's individual spiritual journey? From experience over the years, the group that focuses on prayer just for one another develops an incredible sense of accountability, authenticity, and celebration as members notice God working in their lives. Explore different prayer patterns that allow each person to pray often and not one person dominating. Using the ACTS (adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication) format, conversational prayer, and prayer partners are worth implementing.

Unless your purpose for gathering as a group is for connection and fellowship only, these are tools that are important to consider as a leader begins a new group. Getting to know one another's story, designing a covenant, listening attentively, asking appropriate questions, and praying intentionally allow groups to bond faster, develop increasing trust levels, and create accountability and authenticity. When this environment is experienced, members grow spiritually and mature in their Christian faith, which should be at some level, the goal of every group!

—Dianna Bennett; copyright 2010 by the author and Christianity Today International.

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