I often tell the story of Dora, a young woman in our cell group in Ecuador, who often shared with the group her doubts about religion. In fact, she didn’t believe in the church, but liked going to our cell group because she could freely talk about her struggles and unbelief. We as a cell decided to show a part of the Jesus video for our Christmas outreach and Dora, like always, was with us.
After showing the presentation, Dora cried out, “I’m confused.” Everyone in the cell came to her rescue. Everyone wanted to love her and share their experience. Her presence stirred each person in the group to share their faith and use their gifts. My wife eventually led Dora to Jesus and I had the privilege of baptizing her six months later.
Often non-Christians are looking for a community of honest people who are willing to share their struggles with sin and their dependence of a living God. This type of authenticity is attractive to the non-believer and makes a lot of sense. Many non-Christians have known Christians who failed to live up to biblical standards and they think the church is phony and hypocritical (people who try to act like perfect saints but come across as prideful).
They long to know, see, and hear people who are on a journey, wrestling with God each day, not afraid to talk about marriage conflicts, struggles with anger, and victories through the power of the Holy Spirit on a daily basis.
Not only does authentic sharing help the non-Christian believe the truth of the gospel, but it also helps the believer to become more like Jesus. Authentic sharing in the small group atmosphere helps each member grow in their walk with Jesus as they resist the tendency to hide in the dark corners of perfectionism. Rather, they open heart and soul and allow others to see who they really are. They don’t hide behind outward appearances and trumped-up images.
They realize by sharing weaknesses they actually gain strength. They create entryways that lead to more intimate group communion. We’ve all experienced “fellowship” times when everybody tried to impress each other. You feel pressure to perform. True Christian fellowship, on the other hand, is transparent and honest. John says, “. . . if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
And it’s this type of honest fellowship that grows disciples and attracts non-Christians to Jesus.