On Sunday I had the chance to preach at the ministry I served at for years. Here’s my message on Luke 19:1-10.
For Christmas 2010 my girlfriend Amelia gave me a book on small groups called Missional Small Groups. In one of the Chapters the author (Scott Boren) tells the story of four different small groups. Each one of these small groups represents various models that have been created for small groups. I thought it was very interesting and worth sharing. I would love it if I could get some feedback from ya’ll about what you think.
1-The Personal Improvement Smallgroup
- We get together because life is tough in this world and we need a few friends. It is not always convenient for us to meet every week, but we do meet when we can. Usually we meet in short six or seven week periods or we meet a couple times in a month. We get together talk a bit about God or study the Bible, and share what is going on at work and in our family. I am not sure that we are close, but it is good to have a place where we can share a little about what is going on in our lives. Being in my small group has improved my life.
2-The Lifestyle Adjustment Group
- This group has become a priority to us. We have adjusted our schedules to meet together at least every other week, but usually we meet weekly. In our meetings we either study the sermon preached by our pastor or use a Bible study guide that we all find personally beneficial. We truly enjoy each other’s presence and we put a high priority on the group and the members in the group. We even do something social once each month. We rise to the occasion when someone has a need and there is a sense that we are friends.
3-The Relational Revision Group
- Our group has a weekly meeting but I’m not sure that you would call it a meeting in the formal sense of the word. When we get together it is the culmination of the rest of the week when we have bee in one another’s lives. It is a time of sharing what God has been doing, praying for each other, and talking about how God is using us in our normal lives. Yes we do have a weekly lesson, but the leader usually only asks one or two questions from it. The most important part of our group however is not the meeting; it is how we are connected the other six days. I have never been part of a group in which people are so willing to sacrifice time and energy for each other. And this connectedness actually spills out into our neighborhood. It seems like we are always interacting with, praying for, and serving people who live near us. And in some ways they are just as much part of our group as those of us who call ourselves Christians. Recently we had to wrestle with some relational conflict and hurt feelings. In the past I would have run away from such encounters but not this time. It was not easy but we pressed through. We are still learning what it means to be God’s family.
4-The Missional Group
- We have developed a way of connecting with each other and God that has resulted in some rather unpredictable developments. 2 couples and a single person in our group live within walking distance of each other. So as a group we decided to adopt their neighborhood. We started with a block party. At first it was hard because no one knew us but after the first party we started becoming a presence in the community. Then one person started a summer children’s Bible study and as she got to know the neighbors and their needs we began to pray. Now we have come around a single mom who has 3 kids, and we include her as much as we can in the life of the small group. She has yet to fully understand who Jesus is, but we feel led to embrace her and her kids and see what God does in her life.
- Which one of these best describes the small group that you are in right now?
- Which one of these is the kind of small group that you aim for?
- What is keeping your small group from getting to that “level?”
I would love to hear your feedback or any other comments in general.
In chapter 4 Paul says to the Ephesians: “So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God…” But Paul goes on to say “That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.”
Much like he did in chapter 4, in chapter 5 Paul contrasts a life lived in darkness with a life lived in the light. In verses 8-9 Paul writes “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)”
Notice what Paul doesn’t do, he doesn’t simply give a list of rules and regulations, he does not simply say “do this” or “avoid that” rather Paul instructs the Ephesians to become what they are already in Christ. Paul gives shows us how we actually grow and change; we grow when we become who we already are in Christ. In order to do this we must constantly be reminding ourselves of our truest and deepest identity. Yet this is not something we do once. In 5:1 Paul says “follow,” the Greek word that is translated as “follow” comes from the word ginomai, this word could also be translated as “be” or “become.” (This is a bit complicated but the actual word is a present middle imperative.) It is an imperative that implies a lifelong process. This emphasizes the fact that our transformation is an ongoing process of following in the footsteps of Christ. We imitate Christ because the truth is we are/are being transformed into his likeness.
If we are going to imitate Christ we must learn what Christ is like. We must learn to see life the way he did, we must learn to see others the way he did, we must learn to see the Kingdom the way he did. Where do we learn these things? In the gospels. The gospels show us who Christ is and what Christ was like. The process of becoming Christ-like involves spending time at the feet of Jesus, literally being disciple by him through the gospels. However we must be careful not to think that we are transforming ourselves into being Christ-like. We must never think that out of our own efforts we can “imitate God” or “follow God’s example.” The fact is that a life lived in imitation of God is only made possible because we are God’s children. As children of God there is “family resemblance….”
I have a Golden Retriever named Dallas, he’s a little over three years old now so he is kind of still a puppy. I remember the day that I got him, it was a Wednesday morning and we were getting him from a friend. My family wanted a boy dog and not a girl dog and he was the only one left, so we walked into their backyard to check the puppies out. I remember walking over to the dog run and seeing an explosion of puppies. As soon as the puppies heard me walking they exploded out of the dog house and ran over to the gate. They all seemed pretty excited, then all of a sudden another puppy runs out of the dog house and jumps on top of all the other puppies. He starts climbing all over the other one, even standing on top of them trying to climb over the fence. This was Dallas. Dallas showed his cards before we even took him, he would be trouble. So after playing with the puppies a little bit we took home the only boy puppy, Dallas. We got home set him up in the kitchen, gave him some water, some toys, and a training pad then put a puppy fence around his area. I walk out of the room and 2 minutes later I hear a loud crash. Somehow this little puppy knocked over a fence made for 75-100 pound dogs. I put the fence back up and lo and behold a few minutes later he is climbing it and has gotten stuck, now Dallas is crying. After that incident we decided fences couldn’t contain Dallas. Then we tried to teach him to go on walks… this too was a disaster. Actually it wasn’t a disaster, Dallas ended up taking us for walks instead. To tell you the truth his dad was actually like this. His dad was an outside dog, but when he got in he wrecked the house. His dad would knock over kids and old people. His dad was impossible to walk. All this to say that Dallas much like his dad is a trainwreck. Two rambunctious Golden Retrievers…. like father like son. I guess its family resemblance.
Dallas is much like his father. As sons and daughters of the God we are much like our Father, not because we try to resemble our dad but simply because we are a part of his family. My dog doesn’t try to resemble his dad, he just looks and acts like him. The same holds true for us, if we are really like our Father we will begin to look like him. This resemblance will certainly come out in the way we do community with one another. There won’t be “obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, but rather thanksgiving” within our communities, not because we have rules against these things but simply because these things are not a part of our true identities.
This week consider the following questions:
- In what areas are you growing to resemble your Heavenly Father?
- How are you encouraging others to grow to resemble your Father?
- What is it about a community that resembles God and lives Christ-like that is so attractive to non-believers?
Last time we evaluated where our groups are along the “Changing” pattern. Today we continue this mini-series on spiritual growth in Lifegroups. In this blog we will take a look at some of the things you could be doing for in your Lifegroups to help them move along the change continuum.
Pattern 2: Changing (Steps for Your Group)
So your group wants to change? Or maybe they don’t but you want them to change. Either way God wants them to change and grow, and that is what really matters. If God wants them to grow and become more Christ like then God will make sure it will get done. However this does not mean we sit back lazily and expect God to make us grow. God does the growing in our lives but he calls us to be faithful to that by opening ourselves up to being changed by him.
Lets Make it Grow!
Before we take a look at steps we can take to help our groups move along the various phases of the “change” pattern we need to get one thing VERY clear. There is nothing you can do to make yourself grow. Growth in Christ-likeness is an act (a miracle) of the Holy Spirit. A while ago I had a weird dream about Christian growth. I’m going to throw it out there and hopefully you catch point.
I was out on a huge grass covered field that stretched out as far as the eye could see. And there was a small sapling in the middle of the field. I had a pail and I was watering the tree. As I was watering the tree I was getting frustrated because the stupid sapling wasn’t becoming a tree. And then some guy walks up to me and says: “you can’t make it grow on your own.” And I replied “but this is how you make it grow.” Then I kept watering the tree but once again the guy said “you can’t make it grow on your own.” A little frustrated I told him, “no this is how you make it grow.” I knew in my mind that you make a tree grow by watering it. Thus if I was watering the tree it would grow. And for a third time the guy said “You can’t make it grow on your own.” By now I was pissed off and frustrated so I told the guy “No this is how you make it grow!” Then I woke up.
When I had this dream it was very personal to what I was experiencing in my life and in ministry, however we can extract a truth from it that applies to all Lifegroups and all Christians as they grow. We can know “how to make things grow.” We can know all the right spiritual disciplines or the complexities behind human psychology and human spiritual development, but ultimately its God who creates growth. Without God, growth does not happen. Reading all the right books, spending hours upon hours praying or fasting will not accomplish anything unless God works in you to grow. I’m not saying don’t do those things. After all, we water plants but the growth in the plant is not dependent on us. As Paul says to the Corinthians in his 1st letter: “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.”
So having said that lets move on to how we can be faithful in “watering” and “planting” the seeds of change.
Phase 1 – Learn
- Learn Together: Duh… Here is what I mean though. Pick something to learn about that will get everyone in the group excited. I know we have a set curriculum for our Lifegroups, but there are always things you can add on to help and to encourage your members to grow through learning. For example last quarter Stacey Sturznacker and I added weekly bible reading to our group. Each week we would all read one book of the bible (an epistle) and then we would get together and share what we learned. We chose to do this because it was on everybody’s heart to be in God’s word more consistently. So by choosing something that people were already excited about we were able to learn together.
- Memorize Scripture: This is impossible for me…. But maybe its really easy for you. If any of you did Elevate (our summer discipleship program) you know how beneficial memorizing scripture can be. If you began to memorize scripture your together your group would become much better at speaking truth into one another. Have them memorize scripture and the watch how God will end up using those scriptures in the group!
- Pray Together: At its most basic, prayer is conversation with God. Talking and listening. So what could be better for our growth in Christ than talking to God himself? Here are three quick tips to prayer in groups. Keep it small. You can break of into smaller groups or you can only have a few people pray during prayer times. Either way you don’t want a million people praying. That will take all night. (Unless of course the Spirit prompts your group to spend the night praying instead.) Give it Time. Make sure everyone has enough time to share prayer requests. This means that you will have to keep the clock in mind when leading the discussion but it also means that you will need to keep some loquacious people in check. Don’t let someone dominate this prayer time each week! Guide it well. Cast vision for this time of prayer. Emphasize that God loves to hear our prayers and he desires to answer them for his glory. Emphasize why we pray and how our prayers are effective.
Phase 2 – Growing
- Discuss: Discussion is the crux of our Lifegroups. We center our Lifegroups around the Word because this is where we encounter Christ. Do what you can to keep the discussion flowing. If someone is dominating, help others chime in. If someone is intimidated to share then make sure the group encourages the fact that their opinions are important and valuable. In keeping the discussion flowing make sure you kill tangents. Kill them before they kill your Lifegroup. On another note, allow awkward silences. Silence is not necessarily bad. It might just mean that people are busy thinking. And who knows maybe someone who feels awkward jumping in during the middle of a heated conversation will feel a bit more comfortable sharing during these silences.
- Accountability: A group should feel free to open up and share what is going on in their lives. But first you need to make sure that you stress the importance of confidentiality in Lifegroups. As you stress confidentiality, you will build trust. As you build trust, people in the group will have the confidence that people in the group have eachother’s best interest in mind and are not interested in gossiping. So once trust is build, and the “relational bridge” has a strong foundation. Incorporate a time into your group where people share with one or two individuals (usually of the same gender) the things that God is working on them to grow. We have build this time into our Lifegroups, but you can mix it up and do it in different ways each week. Or else it can easily become a sin pity party. We want to avoid sin pity parties! We want to avoid them because we know that our sins are covered and paid for by the blood of Jesus. Because they are covered we don’t need to live in fear, remorse, condemnation or guilt. We are free to confess sin and expect growth.
Phase 3 – Belong
- Accountability Outside of the Group: One thing that we constantly repeat is that our Lifegroups aren’t meant to be accountability groups, nevertheless our Lifegroups can help us stay accountable. The primary way that we do this is through accountability outside of the group. One of the groups I coached last quarter instituted a system in which each member had another member that they kept accountable and that they prayed for throughout the week. By doing this the group freed up time to spend on discussion, prayer, and worship instead of accountability. So the situation was a win-win. The group had more time to devote to “Lifegroup” activities and everybody received more individualized accountability than would have been offered in the group alone.
- Service:I am firmly believe that the best way to grow is by serving. When you serve you get stretched and put out of your comfort zone. When you serve you often have to learn to rely more on the Spirit and less on yourself. (Of course you could try to do things on your own… good luck with that.) So if you can get your Lifegroup to serve together you will end up seeing growth in the group itself and in the individuals doing the serving.
Hopefully these tips helped! After all it’s our heart that God would create growth in our Lifegroups. I am confident that as we grow deeper in community and as we continue to spur one another towards remembering our identity in Christ we will see growth! And hopefully as you grow closer together and growth happens then the non-Christians in your lives will see the power that God has to change people. As always I’m praying for you, your groups, and the non-Christians around you!
Last time we started the “Changing” pattern. Today we continue this mini-series on spiritual growth in Lifegroups. In this blog we will take a look at some of the various phases that groups find themselves in during this phase.
Pattern 2: Changing (Your Group)
Change… we all aim to change. But stuff so often gets in our way! We might desire to change our health habits but end up getting a Venti Salted Caramel Mocha Latte from Starbucks every day (As I write I am drinking a Venti Salted Caramel Mocha Latte, don’t worry though its non-fat!) Or maybe we decide to change our workout habits, but instead of getting up early to work out before work we end up hitting the snooze button 1 or 2 or 6 times. So what is our problem? Our problem is that change is hard (that’s why I prefer bills to change! Haha I crack myself up!) Anyway change, especially spiritual change is hard, super hard. One of the major (actually it is the major) obstacle to lasting change is a lack of the Holy Spirit’s power in our lives. Another major obstacle to change is a lack of understanding our identity in Christ through the gospel. Lifegroups help us address both of these obstacles. In Lifegroups we give the Holy Spirit free range to help us grow more Christ-like. In Lifegroup we come alongside one another and remind ourselves about our identity in Christ. But there is another obstacle to change. A lack of true community…..
Change or Die
In his book Change or Die journalist Alan Deutschman did some research into how people change. One thing that he found consistently in all people and groups that changed was community. “When people connected with a community that helped them, change was possible. Without community people rarely changed, and when they did, it didn’t last.” By using this book, Bill Search points out that community, especially communities of believers are a major factor in our growth and change process. If its true that community helps us change and grow, how much more will a Christ centered and Spirit led community help us grow?!?!
The Change Continuum
Bill Search likes continuums and I do too. So I think that Bill is right in saying that “just like the relational pattern of connecting, the growth pattern of change is a continuum.” When thinking about the change continuum we must keep two things in mind. First, in defining change we must keep in mind that change does not equal becoming perfect. That is a standard that none of us can attain, nevertheless we remain hopeful that God will one day make us perfect. We remain hopeful that God wants to draw us closer and closer to his son and also that God will make us more and more Christ-like in our spiritual journey. Second, when talking about change we need to know that some people will grow slow and stead, while others will shoot up like weeds. Your Lifegroup will contain both types of people. So you need to be mindful of that. These phases along the change continuum is meant to address the group as a whole, not necessarily individuals.
Phase 1 – Learn
Last time we talked about the notion that growing in knowledge does not equal growing spiritually. However growing in knowledge is a huge part in our process of change. This is a very important stage, especially for people who are new. When you are new, everything you learn can be exciting and awe inspiring. This phase will have people learning new things all the time. They will read the bible and find cool things. They might point out how cool it is that The Lord’s Supper is so similar to Passover or that Jesus was prophesied about in the Old Testament. And as they learn these cool new things they will want to discuss them in Lifegroup. However your job as a Lifegroup leader is to help shift the focus to the question “why does this matter?” (not in a mean and demeaning way) but in a “what does this mean to you?” way. Ask them how this impacts their lives and their view of who God is. Use their eagerness to learn in order to foster spiritual transformation.
How can you tell that you are in this phase? Ask yourself the following questions:
- Is most of your group time spent during the “Word” portion of the night?
- Do most of your members enjoy the “Word” part of the night over the other parts?
Phase 2 – Grow
The growing phase is visible when the emphasis shifts from learning truths to applying them. This group will be more concerned about applying what God is showing them than merely learning more things. A group in this phase helps each person grow by challenging and encouraging one another to apply truth and they build that person up when they see that person living out the truths they are learning. For example someone in your group has been sharing that they are beginning to see the theme of patience running through the Bible. If you are in this stage you will ask the person: Who do you need to be patient with in your circle of influence? Is it your roommates? Your parents? Your girlfriend? When they come back and share the next week and they say that they failed at being patient, encourage them! If they say they were successful celebrate the fact that God is transforming them!
How can you tell that you are in this phase? Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do your group members openly discuss areas in which they need to personally grow?
- Do people in your group share testimonies of the things God is doing in their lives?
- Do they ask to be held accountable for their actions?
- Do they confess their sins to one another?
Phase 3 – Transform
We can hope for and expect transformation to happen now through the power of the Holy Spirit. Although there are some sins that we seem to be captive to, the truth is that Jesus has defeated sin and has set us free. We just need to allow his reign to take over these parts of our lives. I want you to stop for a minute and think… in the last few months where have you been transformed? How has Christ been growing you? Ask yourself the question: “Who am I becoming in Christ?” These are the same questions you need to be asking your group if they are in this stage. Always remember though that in this stage you want to build up, not tear down. Because it is love and kindness that lead to repentance and growth not condemnation.
How can you tell that you are in this phase? Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do group members point to areas where they feel they have experienced victory?
- Can the group affirm one another in the areas of change they are seeing?
- Do group members discuss what they are doing in order to grow in a certain area?
Evaluating Your Group
Next time we will be taking a look at how we can move up on the continuum of changing phases. But for now I leave you with a couple of questions and some food for thought. First go ahead and Read Colossians 3:1-17. How does this passage image impact your understanding about growth for your Lifegroup? Then ask yourself the following questions:
- What is the basis for our change?
- What are we to put to death?
- What are we supposed to put on?
- How is your Lifegroup doing in these areas (v. 12-17)
- Do the members of your Lifegroup understand the point or the goal of change?
I hope that these questions help you think through some key issues in our pattern of changing, and that you are led to pray for God to show up in your group to create the change He wants to see. I know I’m praying that for my own group and I’m praying that for yours as well.
Back to more Simple Smallgroups! Last time we finished the “Connecting” pattern. Today we start up our new pattern “Changing.” Changing is just the word Bill Search uses for spiritual growth/sanctification. So lets take a look at what this pattern is and how Lifegroups can help us change.
Pattern 2: Changing
So over the last few studies we have been taking an in depth look at the pattern Bill Search calls connecting and Soma calls community. Now we move on to the second pattern: Changing. Now we know that Changing (growing, becoming spiritually mature, etc.) is not the point. Encountering Christ is the point. As we encounter Christ and fall more in love with him we change, grow, become mature, etc. So lets take a look at the “Changing” pattern.
You Can Change! (But its not easy…)
All of you know how hard change can be. Whether its changing schools, changing jobs, moving, or getting married. Change is not easy. Sometimes we desperately avoid change but other times we really want to change. But that change doesn’t come about easily. Think back to your spiritual journey. Have there been things that you wanted to change? I’m sure there have been. There are certainly things in my own journey that I have wanted to change. In fact we are actually called to change. We are called to hear God and what he is calling us to change and join the journey with him as he changes us from the inside out…. But once again this is NOT easy.
Change…. It’s a process
We call change a lot of things…. Discipleship, transformation, spiritual formation. And if we want to get really technical and sound like a theology nerd we can call it sanctification. Whatever you want to call it though… there is one aim “to become more like Jesus.” Afterall this is what “Christian” means.
Since change is a core part of our Christian journey it seems natural that our Lifegroups will speak into this pattern in some way or another. For instance in a Lifegroup we might challenge one another to grow in knowledge and to put that knowledge into practice. We might point people to the Grace of God and speak truths into them. This too can lead to change. When we tell people that they are holy and dearly loved by God, that their sins are forgiven, that God is faithful, and that he hears their prayers internal change occurs. These are all steps and tools we have to help other Christians in our Lifegroups grow BUT change is a process. Usually it takes time. Sure there are times when people do a complete 180. I have seen this in groups! But the majority of the time it will be a slow gradual process that might not even be noticeable until you step back and take a bird’s eye view of the situation. So just as we talked about their being a continuum for connecting, its helpful to think of change along a continuum as well. With the ultimate goal being sanctification (which we know WILL NOT happen fully until the end of time where Jesus makes us perfect).
Knowledge ≠ Change
I don’t think that I really need to explain this too much but I will give it a shot. An increased level of knowledge does not equal change. You can know a ton and still not be spiritually mature. For instance there is this one guy, E.P. Sanders who is one of the most respected and influential biblical scholars today. He wrote a book several decades ago called Paul and Palestinian Judaism. This book revolutionized the field of biblical studies. It changed the way we looked at Judaism in Paul’s day. And ever since he wrote this book it has been impossible to write something scholarly about Paul without at least engaging with E.P. Sanders ideas. So hopefully you are getting the point. This guy has a lot of knowledge. However his spiritual walk is not so healthy…. In fact he refers to himself as a “secularized protestant.” (Sad.) On the other hand another thing we need to remember is that growing in knowledge also does not equal growing in spiritual maturity. So why does this matter? It matters because your Lifegroup is not primarily a place to come receive knowledge. Your Lifegroup should not digress into a discussion about predestination or the new perspective on Paul or the best interpretation of Revelation. That is not the point….
(Note: I am not saying that knowledge is unnecessary to spiritual growth. I firmly believe that God calls us to know more about him and his actions in the past through the Bible. God also calls us to know more about him and how he works in this world, through church history. God also calls us to know about him and what his people have said about him, through historical theology. All of these fields of study are extremely important because in studying them we have the potential of encountering the God that we worship. Personally I have had some of my greatest “God Times” reading theologians like N.T. Wright, Karl Barth, and Augustine.)
How can I help you change?
Or better yet, how can we help you change. A healthy group helps us grow spiritually. Bill Search in Simple Smallgroups list out three ways that Lifegroups help people change: 1-When we are honest, 2-when we apply Scriptures, and 3-when we listen to other believers.
- Honesty: If we want to become more like Jesus you have to be honest about where you are at. If we want to change a particular sin in our life we need to be able to talk about that sin, and you won’t talk about that sin unless you are honest with your group. If you want to grow you have to open up and share. If we live in a community of people who hides and covers up their faults, we won’t be able to help one another. So we should invite our fellow group members to be honest about who they really are and what things they are struggling with. However in being honest we must remember that we are working along a continuum. You cannot expect people to be completely open and honest the first week of Lifegroup. (If they are then there likely is something wrong with them. Either that or you have an EGR on your hands.) Nevertheless you should see growth in honesty as your group progresses.
- Applying Scriptures:A few weeks ago when I preached on Colossians 3:12-17 I said that “Out of our identity as God’s sons and daughters words of encouragement should flow to our fellow brothers and sisters.” We should be encouraging one another that in Christ we are holy and dearly loved. And we should be encouraging one another with the Word of Christ, which is the scriptures, the gospel, and the promised work of Jesus in our life. Sure it will involve exhorting one another to follow the commadments of Scripture, but above all we should “apply the scriptures” by reminding one another of the truths that scripture tells us about our position in Christ. I firmly believe that as we do this we will be more ready and willing to follow the commands of scripture. (Because doing flows from being!)
- Listening: “Listening to one another is one of the greatest ways we can help each other change.” Have you ever been in a situation where you felt like you weren’t being heard? Like your feelings and your opinions didn’t matter? Like you were underappreciated or not appreciated at all? If you have ever felt that way you know how exhausting it can be. However you probably know that the opposite of those things can be very life giving and energizing. So listening and listening attentively can foster an environment that gives life rather than drains it. As your group listens to one another you can encourage one another and affirm (or correct) them. I think that most importantly, listening shows that we care, and when we know people care about our spiritual growth we are more likely to want to change.
Change – It’s a Continuum
Bill Search gives a great metaphor for the change continuum. He uses the metaphor of a bridge and says that “You’ve got to build the relational bridge strong enough to hold the weight of truth.” I believe he is right. Have you ever received a challenging word or a rebuke from someone you barely knew? How did you take it? Probably not so well. Now what if someone you knew loved and cared for you said those same things? Would that be radically different? I think so. What this shows is that if we are going to have the authority to speak into people’s lives and help them become more Christ-like then we need to build the relational bridge strong enough to handle the tension of confrontation and challenge. This begins with building the bridge between the leader and the members then building the bridge between all of the members of the group to one another. So in order to embark upon this journey of becoming more Christ-like we need to build strong relational bridges. There are also some other things we can be doing, but we will take a look at those next time.