I don’t know about you, but there’s this near paralyzing fear comes when I think about true authenticity. You know those thoughts that bombard us when we start to grow in relationships with others. If people only knew the things I’ve done in my past, my shortcomings as a spouse or my failure as a parent, my sin based in my insecurities, but the Christian community has a unique answer to all of these hesitations. As Christians, we have the opportunity to present not a persona but our authentic selves to others in our small group, but we can only be truly authentic with each other and even the outside world through a deep belief in the Gospel because the Gospel reminds us that Jesus is fully and completely bore our sin because Jesus bore our sin, we can live in the freedom of being in right standing with God.
We can day by day live with the full knowledge that we are the righteousness of Christ untainted by sin and welcomed into the family of God and amazingly even today when you and I sin and we will, we can know that Jesus bore that sin as well. The Bible has a picture of this authentic transparency. It’s found in James 5:16 where he says, therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed and this verse is transparency at its best. It’s the picture of someone who convinced the limitless grace and promise forgiveness of Jesus confesses their sin. They lay themselves open and bear before others. Not expecting shame and guilt, but expecting healing. Our naturally reaction to sin is to run and hide in the darkness, but the power of the gospel frees us to come out into the light.
The work of Jesus makes confession and repentance more beautiful than burdensome. We can truly share that below the line of shame because we already know that we are so broken that Jesus had to die for us, but we also know that were so loved that he was willing to die for us. So how do we do this with our small group? Let me give you five tips for being truly authentic with your small group.
First, be willing to go first. You know, a good practice of facilitation is usually ask a question and then wait for others to jump in before you give the answer, but there may be times where you want to go first, share something from your life and set the example for others in your group.
Two, be prepared before the group meeting. Go through the study know the question so you can know those opportunities where you might be able to share something from your life and kind of help set that example for the rest of the group to follow.
Number three, know you should ease into the personal questions. Sometimes we can go there too fast, especially if this is a new group. It’s going to take some time for them to jail before they’re ready to completely open, open themselves up to the people around them.
Number four, keep the focus on Jesus and grace. Continue to point the group back to the message of the cross. Authenticity will come when we think about that amazing love that Christ has for us by laying down his life for our sin. So always point the group back to Jesus and grace.
And then number five, make prayer integral part of the group experience. You know, sometimes we can forget about the prayer time or kind of rushed through it, but really prayer sets the stage for true authenticity and healing in our group. So following those five practices will lead to the kind of authenticity that brings healing and grace to your group members.