Walking The Small Group TIGHTROPE
March 6, 2012
These are my “book notes” from reading Walking the Small Group TIGHTROPE, by Bill Donahue and Russ Robinson.
When do people usually learn? When they fail. All learning comes from failed experience. When experience fails to match expectations, the dissonance produces the energy for learning, discovery & change.
Polarity Management suggests that in every area of life, we must learn to manage the tension between two good things rather than choose one thing over another.
Business – profit & please customers. Churches must evangelize & disciple. We must do both.
Ex: Ephesians 4:4-7 (NIV) There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.
* managing tension keeps things in balance
6 CHALLENGES – 6 TENSIONS
1. Learning Challenge
2. Development Challenge
3. Relational Challenge
4. Reconciliation Challenge
5. Impact Challenge
6. Connection challenge
Chapter 1: A Change Will Do You Good
Meeting the Learning Challenge by Balancing Truth & Life
– the challenge is to avoid drifting too far for too long toward one end of the continuum
– Psalm 119:89 (NIV) Your word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.
– Isaiah 55:11 (NIV) …so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
– Make it clear that truth is central to community
– an emphasis on truth apart from life will turn you into a Pharisee. A life that’s not informed by truth will make you a Relativist “blown here & there by every wind of teaching” (Ephesians 4:14)
Goodness, Righteousness, & Truth
– Ephesians 5:8-9 (NIV) For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth).
– Truth does matter & according to Paul, it must connect with life.
– acquisition of knowledge becomes an end in itself
– the most dangerous truths is a half truth. God wants a heart to work with, or truth has no effect
– “Truth will set you free, but not all truth, just applied truth.”
– Life groups are rooted in experience rather than in an outside source of objective reality
– spiritual transformation occurs when truth meets life & must be the outcome of any group
A. Connecting Scripture with Story
– Story: Luggage lost. It’s great to find something of value that you have lost. Your current version acts as a bridge.
– Jesus didn’t say “Lost people are important to me & should be important to you as well.”
– Rather he talked about lost coins, lost sheep, lost son, prodigal son
– Groups grow when Scripture & story collide with member’s lives
B. Turning Questions into Discussions
– the purpose of asking questions in a small group is to create a discussion & not just find an answer
– closed-ended questions are questions designed to elicit data. Once you get the facts, end of discussion
– in a small group, fear of being wrong kills a discussion every time
– 1st begin with open-ended questions that invite insight, opinions, & personal reflection.
– Ex: What would it look like to really love our neighbor the way Jesus has taught?
– 2nd Make sure that your questions become focused & personal
– Ex: 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV) No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
– When have you felt most trapped, like there’s no way of escape from a temptation?
– It’s best to state the obvious truth or necessary facts before asking your question.
– for truth to meet life, the small group has to Move from general content to more personal questions.
– 3rd Make your discussion more interactive & creative
– create armor of God out of newspapers, jeopardy, family feud, wheel of fortune.
C. Practicing Active Listening
– a change in d mood f d group.
– body language & facial reactions.
– tone f voice.
– change in habits & behavior.
D. Varying Learning Styles
– readers, listeners, doers, watchers.
Chapter 2: Meeting the Development Challenge by Balancing Care & Discipleship
Are we treating wounds or training soldiers?
– groups that focus on only the disciplines of discipleship tend to attract the strong & prepare soldiers for battle. Groups that spend an inordinate amount of energy on caregiving tend to focus on the needs of the weak & hurting, providing a strong sense of family for them. We need both armies & families.
5 G’s of Spiritual Development
5. Good Stewardship
4 Steps in Intentional Shepherding
1. Building Relationships
– members need someone to take a personal interest in them & their lives.
Ex: Paul did this with Priscilla & Aquilla, whom he met in Corinth while making tents with them.
– Acts 18:1-4 (NIV) After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them. Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greek.
– later as they grew in faith, he modeled ministry before them & took them with him to Syria & Ephesus
– Acts 18:18-20 (NIV) Paul stayed on in Corinth for some time. Then he left the brothers and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila. Before he sailed, he had his hair cut off at Cenchrea because of a vow he had taken. They arrived at Ephesus, where Paul left Priscilla and Aquila. He himself went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. When they asked him to spend more time with them, he declined.
– Then he left them in Ephesus as church leaders.
– There they mentored Apollos
– Acts 18:26-19:1 (NIV) He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately. When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. On arriving, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed. 28For he vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ. While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus & sent him to Corinth (where they previously served) to encourage the believers there. They later also helped the church in Rome & risked their lives for Paul.
– Romans 16:3 (NIV) Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus.
2. Assessing Needs
3. Developing a plan together
4. Monitoring Progress
Chapter 3: Meeting the Relational Challenge by balancing Friendship & Accountability
“I’d like to get to know you… I think.”
Illustration: Refrigerator Rights. According to therapist Will Miller & communications professor Glenn Sparks.
Illustration: 44 million Americans move in any given year, roughly 17% of the population.
– it has been known for a decade now that social ties reduce the risk of disease by lowering heart rate, blood pressure, & cholesterol. Those who have the most friends over a 9-year period time cut their risk of early death by 60%.
– pursuing friendship can help us break through barriers to true community.
– (Abraham God’s friend) James 2:23 (NIV) And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend.
– We sometimes turn the business of being righteous into something deep & theological, but in the end its about being God’s friend.
– (Jesus called his disciples friends) John 15:15 (NIV) I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
– but the Bible warns of the peril of keeping things too casual for too long.
– Proverbs 18:24 (NIV) A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
– Proverbs 27:17 (NRSV) Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens the wits of another.
A. To know & be known
B. To love & be loved
C. To serve & be served
D. To admonish & be admonished
E. To celebrate & be celebrated
1. Self-Disclosure – it gives us the right, earns us the right, to speak truth into each other’s lives.
A. Relational risk-taking- it means taking the risk of telling secrets
B. Confidentiality- a key group outline is: what we talk about in the group stays in the group, unless permission is granted otherwise
D. Storytelling- it reveals their past
2. Acceptance & Belief
– “Even if this is true and even if this never changes, I will still be with you.”
3. Mutual Support
– community building may reach its zenith when crisis strikes. That’s right—when, not if.
– Altruism says that 2 things are certain in the world: death and taxes. There is a 3rd trouble.
– Story: Jesus’ friends failed him.
– people then don’t wait for a crisis to serve
4. Truth Telling
– 2 Timothy 4:2 (NIV) Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.
– Admonition to be rooted in truth feels like criticism or faultfinding
– Ephesians 4:15 (NIV) Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.
– Other Points
– Lead the way
– Focus on friendship- the best time to build friendships is between meetings. There are 168 hrs in a week. After eating, sleeping, and working there are still about 40-50 hours in which to connect as members.