Vulnerability precedes spiritual growth

Are people in your group vulnerable with one another?

Pastor Bob recently preached that, “if people in our small groups are not being vulnerable and being real with one another, then they ought to disband” (paraphrased).

His point is not that we should dissolve all our groups, but that our groups should be communities where shallowness and masks dissolve away. Masks don’t dissolve on their own, though.

I remember leading a group that seemed shallow, as if no one had any problems, and everyone was already sanctified. I wondered why our relationships were not growing much and why I felt like I really didn’t know them very well, even though we met together weekly. I searched for the problem and realized…it was me.

My pride, my fear to confess sins, my messiah complex, my mask. All of these were keeping me from being vulnerable with the rest of my group and relating to them authentically. Maybe you can relate?

I know vulnerability is scary, and we fear that people will not respect us if they really knew us.
But every time I am vulnerable or confess a sin in my small group, I’ve seen others pull down their “Zorro” masks just far enough to reveal they are not superheros either. Vulnerability liberates us from the snare of performance. In other words, it keeps us from thinking we have to keep up appearances and live up to everyone else’s expectations. We are all on a journey of sanctification (becoming more like Christ and less like our worldly selves), which requires us to be real and honest with each other. It requires vulnerability.

To be clear, being vulnerable as a leader does not mean vomitting all your worst sins upon an unsuspecting group of people. Nor is it using the group members for your personal therapy session.

Vulnerability is being willing to pull down the protective mask we wear, at the risk of being hurt, for the sake of growth in others. It is creating a safe and caring culture in our groups that in turn provide the right environments for others to be vulnerable too.
Our groups need to be growing into transparent communities if we want to see people growing into mature disciples. Transparency precedes spiritual growth. People can’t grow to look more like Jesus while still wearing a mask, and they will not pull down their masks until we remove ours. And I’ve found that I will not be vulnerable with others until I am unreservedly vulnerable before the God who sees through all my masks.

So… how are you doing at modeling vulnerability and creating a transparent community in your group?

Below are a few helpful pointers.

  1. Be vulnerable first.
  2. Talk to your group about where the Spirit of God is convicting you through the Bible.
  3. Discuss James 5:16 together as a group.
  4. Expect messy people. 
  5. Keep perspective…growth is not microwaved

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