Today is day three in a series of blog posts that was motivated by the reading of Brad Waggoner’s book, The Shape of Faith to Come. This book is based on research done by Brad and his team. The research included a sampling of 2500 Protestants who consider themselves regular church attenders. Attendance was determined as at least attending one worship service per month. This means that it is very possible that a majority of those polled are attending a Sunday School class or small group.
The outcome of the third startling and stunning statistic simply reads…
How much do you agree/disagree: I tend to accept the constructive criticism and correction of other Christians?
A mere 17% “agreed strongly.”
41% “agreed somewhat.”
I think it is fair to say that when someone agrees “somewhat” with a statement of this nature that these individuals lean much more toward not embracing guidance given by other believers that tilting toward hearing from and accepting constructive criticism from other followers of Christ.
What does this mean to we small group leaders? Because accepting guidance from other believers is so vital to the transformational process, it is essential that a group leader establish with the group early in the group’s life that group members will be speaking into one another’s lives and continues to establish this as important to each person’s transformation and to the group’s health.
How do we go about making sure this aspect of group life is firmly established?
1. Make it part of the group covenant.
2. Model this early in the group’s life. Instead of telling someone else what they need to consider ask the group to give you constructive criticism. Thank them for it and remind them that this is important to their journey too.
3. Remind the group often that each of us has blind spots and that those who love us and are on the journey with us can help us see the things we are unable to see ourselves.
4. Tell stories of your own journey and how someone pointed out some weakness in your life and how you are better for it now.
5. When someone gives a word of wisdom to another group member, points out a blind spot, or graciously gives great advice to someone else, thank them for doing so and take that moment to remind the group that this is very important. Don’t hesitate to point out that, because this is so unusual in many groups it may feel awkward at first but in time it will be a comfortable and normal aspect of group life.
6. Make these agreements when it comes to constructive criticism… It can only be given if requested and that it is okay for one group member to say to another, “Would you give me permission to help you on your journey? There’s something that I’ve noticed that you may be missing.” The individual has now established the right environment for this important moment.