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Story, Beauty, Pain, and the Heart…Transformation in Small Groups

In western society getting into people’s heads is no problem. We’re all about facts and figures, scientific method, and knowledge gained. In fact, since buying an iPhone I can find an answer to almost any question within seconds… no matter where I am. Knowledge is available ad nausea.
Those who are all about knowledge never know what it means to be made new, only what it means to be made knowledgeable. In order to be transformed we have to sprint right past what many perceive as the finish line, knowledge, and join a community of others on the journey of the heart. Pouring God’s story into an open heart is like doing CPR on a dying swimmer, the individual comes back to life and begins to see the world and the God they serve in a whole new way.
There are two expressions that seem to pry open the lid of the heart… Beauty and Pain. A few things to keep in mind…
1.     Beauty and/or Pain are most often realized in the midst of story.
2.     People acknowledge the beauty of life or the pain life creates through the unveiling of someone else’s story or when they courageously verbalize their own.
3.     Stories are often brought to mind and out into the open when someone sees an image, a film, or hears a song.
4.     The stories found in Scripture often drive group members to tell their own stories.
5.     The stories of others who have already experienced the beauty or the pain someone else is experiencing may very well be the catalyst to someone else realizing and verbalizing their own story.
A few ways to stimulate a stagnant heart:
1.     Use images. a) Find pictures that depict beauty or pain, show them to group members, then ask the group how what they see relates to their own journey. b) find symbolic images that don’t necessarily depict a life experience but create emotion then ask the group what life event that image reminds them of.
2.     Ask a group member to tell her/his own story, the story of a time when life was devastating or when life was wonderful, to the rest of the group.
3.     Watch a film together, a film with a real life message, then ask group members to tell which character they most relate to and why.
4.     Read a passage of Scripture then ask group members which character they most relate to most and why?
5.     Read a journal entry of your own, an entry written when you were going through a difficult or wonderful era in life. Ask the group to tell you when they experienced something similar. Follow up with the question, “How did you feel about God during this time in your life?”
6.     Use music. Play a song that moves your heart (If it touches you it will most likely touch your group members.) for the group then ask them what life experience the lyric brought to mind. Story songs are best in these situations but any song that has lyrics that demand an inner reckoning will be potent.
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Rick has one passion… To see “a biblical small group within walking distance of every person on the planet making disciples that make disciples.” He is presently pursuing this passion as the Small Group and Discipleship Specialist at LifeWay Church Resources. Rick has authored or co-authored multiple books, studies, and leader training resources including A Different Kind of Tribe: Embracing the New Small Group Dynamic, Destination Community: Small Group Ministry Manual, The Gospel and the Truth: Living the Message of Jesus, Small Group Life Ministry Manual: A New Approach to Small Groups, Redeeming the Tears: a Journey Through Grief and Loss, Small Group Life: Kingdom, Small Group Kickoff Retreat: Experiential Training for Small Group Leaders, and Great Beginnings: Your First Small Group Study, Disciples Path: A Practical Guide to Disciple Making. Rick’s varied ministry experiences as an collegiate minister, small group pastor, teaching pastor, elder, full-time trainer and church consultant, as well as having been a successful church planter gives him a perspective of church life that is all-encompassing and multi-dimensional. Rick is a highly sought after communicator and trainer.