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Helping Group Members Understand Faith… and Doubt

One of the most awkward moments a small group leader experiences is when a small group member announces that they have doubts. Because the leader is under the assumption that there is no way a believers heart can house faith and doubt at the same time, an honest leader tries to convince the group member that they will have periods of doubt but faith will return, overcome their doubts, and the group member will be back in the saddle again riding the white horse of total faith into the sunset of miraculous answers to prayer.
But faith and doubt are not mutually exclusive. We are human (Psalm 103:14) and so we still have human thoughts, concerns, and doubts about God and His work. But we aren’t the first. Think about it… When Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were before King Nebuchadnezzar responding to his declaration that they’d be thrown into the fiery furnace if they didn’t bow to another god, their response was… “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king.” (Daniel 3:16 – 17) Total faith, huh’? Deliverance for sure… because of their complete, unwavering, doubtless faith, right? You believe there is no doubt in them until you get to verse 18 which reads… “But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up. ”
When we get to the statement, “But even if he does not…” we realize that these were men who believed in God’s power to save them but had hints of doubt concerning whether or not He would. They had doubt, maybe a hint of doubt, maybe overwhelming doubt, but that they also had a measure of faith. Doubt and faith are not mutually exclusive.
Someone once wisely stated that “Faith is Doubt + Belief and acting on the belief part.”
Small group leader, I would suggest you memorize that formula, “Faith is Doubt + Belief and acting on the belief part.” This will serve you well as you lead and counsel small group members.

Remember… Faith is Doubt + Belief and acting on the belief part.

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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.