I recently ran across a quote by Bonhoeffer: "In confession, the breakthrough to community takes place."
That's a powerful thought, and one worth chewing on. I tweeted that quote yesterday and Dave Treat shot back with "How much confession happens in your small group?"
Great question. In the group in which I am a member, there is a strong level of transparency and honesty, and even more so in the accountability triads that meet between group meetings.
Public confession has never been popular in any culture or at any time in history. Yet we're called to confess our sins one to another. I can clearly see why Bonhoeffer made the connection between confession and community. Without baring one's soul to others, there is a lack of transparency and authenticity which keeps others at a distance.
One observation I would like to make is that the level of community and intimacy in a small group meeting is directly proportionate to the level of transparency that the men or the women have with one another outside the meeting. In other words, don't try to force people to share deep stuff during meetings if they're not already doing it outside the meeting.
I will say this though: if you visit your small groups and the talk is surface or just sharing opinions about the Bible text the group is studying or weighing in with thoughts about the topic at hand and little or no transparent sharing is going on, you should ask the leader of the group if this is normal or if your presence made the group members remain shallow. If he or she states that what you experienced is typical, then more one-on-one or one-on-two accountability between meetings is required.
I'm stunned by how many small group members I visit with in churches across America have never been in accountability. Goes right along with the fact they've never been personally discipled or discipled a new believer.
Thoughts? Comments? Points of disagreement?