Sunday, December 07, 2008

Facing Shame in Small Groups


Facing Shame Issues in a Small Group
Why some group members don't want to open up, and how to help
Mark Bonham posted 11/17/2008

How people's shame is responded to by a group and its leaders will determine how deep they or others will feel safe to go. What would make it safe to share issues of shame in the first place? Group leaders set the tone. When leadersare in touch with their own brokenness and can talk openly about it because they have received help and healing, they create space for others to do the same. If people are not bringing up realstruggles of the heart, could it bethat they do not feel safe because it has not been modeled in the group?

We have been talking about shame over who I feel I am. But there is also legitimate shame over what I know I've done. It is not the goal of the group to talk people out of either kind of shame. Both expose what I am allowing to define me. In both cases, I have lost awareness of who I really am in Christ. Fortunately, once I have identified what is going on, I have the opportunity to go to the Cross and confess what I have believed. It is a beautiful thing when a group can go there together with one of their members, pour out their heart in confession, and, in exchange, have the righteousness of Christ poured out on them.

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This is especially relevent in Asia where we live in a culture of shame.

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