In his book, "Life Together", Dietrich Bonhoeffer addresses the importance of confession of sin to our fellow believers.
"He who is alone with his sin is utterly alone....The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So everybody must conceal his sin from himself and from the fellowship. We dare not be sinners. Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous. So we remain alone with our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy."
"In confession the break-through to community takes place. Sin demands to have a man by himself. It withdraws him from the community. The more isolated a person is, the more destructive will be the power of sin over him, and the more deeply he becomes involved in it, the more disastrous is his isolation. Sin wants to remain unknown. It shuns the light. In the darkness of the unexpressed it poisons the whole being of a person. This can happen even in the midst of a pious community. In confession the light of the Gospel breaks into darkness and seclusion of the heart. The sin must be brought into the light. The unexpressed must be openly spoken and acknowledged. All that is secret and hidden is made manifest. It is a hard struggle until the sin is openly admitted."
This week and next week in groups we are discussing David's sin with Bathsheba, his cover-up, and then his confession and repentance. His story hits us right between the eyes as we consider our own sin and it provides an incredible opportunity for us and our group members to confess our own struggles and temptations.
When we handle Bible passages and ask discussion questions that are pointed and personal, how open should we expect our group members to be?
We know the point of Community Group is to get people to apply the Bible, to provide a context for people to know each other and be known, to share who they really are, and to get encouragement and accountability to grow and change.
We hope that group members will feel safe enough to share what is really happening in their life, but how often is that what we experience?
How much should we really expect our group members to share?
In his sermon "Small Church" at the beginning of the groups year, Drew Karschner shared that most of the relationships we will develop in group will be social or personal, but not intimate. You may experience intimate relationships in group, but you won't have that with everyone.
This should help temper our expectations for how much our group members will share with the group.
In fact, the group environment isn't the primary place for your group members to divulge all of their deepest and darkest sins.
Say what? Isn't that the point of group?
While we want to create a safe space in group for people to share their sin struggles and get accountability, the point isn't that they share everything with the whole group or in group, but that they share everything someone.
So, how can we get our group members to share openly?
1. Set expectations in group.
We should encourage our group members to be honest and open with each other but admit that there may be somethings we don't feel safe sharing with any or all of our group members. That is okay, but its not okay to have no one to share our struggles with.
2. Encourage everyone to find someone.
As group leaders we should encourage all of our group members to have one or two people in their life with which they can share everything. Every sin struggle, every fear, every victory, every failure, everything. That person may or may not be a group member, but there should be someone.
3. Share YOUR struggles with someone.
It starts with you. Who in your life can you share everything with and hold nothing back? Do you have that person? If not, take some time today to identify someone you can begin to deepen your relationship with so you can get to the point where you can share all.
As Bonhoeffer said, "He who is alone with his sin is utterly alone."
Find someone with whom you can share everything and encourage your group members to do the same.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. - James 5:16
In Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, renowned Christian minister, professor, and author of The Cost of Discipleship recounts his unique fellowship in an underground seminary during the Nazi years in Germany. Giving practical advice on how life together in Christ can be sustained in families and groups, Life Together is bread for all who are hungry for the real life of Christian fellowship.
In this podcast, John Piper explains the meaning of James 5:16, and shares why confessing sins to others is essential to the Christian life.
Have you been frustrated with prayer time in your community group? It can be hard as leaders to reign people in and foster God-honoring, sin-stomping, soul-working, growth-producing prayer time. How do we get there? Here is 1 idea.
Community Groups Pastor
Life is better connected!