Whether your group meets for Bible study on Sunday mornings or during the week, it’s important to establish and encourage authentic relationships within the group. Authentic relationships are key to dwelling in the Word together, as they promote more engaging conversations and application of Scripture to the context of group members’ individual lives. The following excerpt from Context: Engaging the Young Adults of Your Community sheds light on the importance of encouraging authentic relationships within your group.
HOW CAN I ENCOURAGE AUTHENTIC RELATIONSHIPS WITHIN MY GROUP?
Young adults can spot a fake from a mile away, and they’re hungry to be in a place where they’re free to be themselves–their broken selves. From day one, you need to create an atmosphere that says, “It’s OK if you don’t have it all together.” Here are some tips for creating that type of environment.
Don’t take yourself too seriously. Life is too short and you have a limited time to journey with your group. Make your time meaningful while realizing the last thing your group members want is an extension of the draining meetings they’ve been in all week at work.
Be yourself. It’s a common misconception that in order to take a group to a level that is functioning with authentic community, you have to reinvent yourself. In all honesty, you are much more likely to experience a fantastic group when you are just yourself.
Take personal responsibility for your group. Your group consists of people God has entrusted you with, so both the group meetings that go exceptionally well and the group meetings that go exceptionally bad are your responsibility.
Lead by example. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge your own brokenness. It may seem counter-intuitive, but that weakness actually will make you a more credible leader in the eyes of young adults. The temptation in leadership is to try and have everything about your life perfect, but the best thing you can do is be yourself. Be strong where you’re strong, and acknowledge your own questions. Nothing brings about authenticity like authenticity.
Be sensitive to the hurt and broken people in your group. There are a few things that will rally and bond a group quicker than when you mobilize the group to minister to another group member who is hurting. Being aware of those hurting within your group and calling up the group to help are very positive steps in achieving true community.