Small group theory and practice

REFLECTION

Prior to beginning this assignment I had a notion about myself regarding the small group theory and practice as displayed in churches I had formally attended. In addition to that, I had previously studied a great deal about small group practice and some of its origins and roots that laid the foundation of what is seen today in churches. Through this background I was curious about how this class would unfold, how the material would align itself with Scripture and/or man, and the outcome of my thought process after completing it. I have held on to some Scriptural truths while going through the prescribed material, such as "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; but the fools despise wisdom and instruction." Another is also found in Proverbs, that being, "A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself." One more is found in 1 Corinthians 3, stating, "Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness." To help in understanding why these specific passages, my life has been a work of whittling away debris from my thought life, beliefs held, and actions taken. God has been and continues to chisel away the rough stone. A.W. Tozer said it best in That Incredible Christian. "A sculptor does not use a manicure set to reduce the rude, unshapely marble to a thing of beauty. The saw, the hammer and the chisel are cruel tools, but without them the rough stone must remain forever formless and unbeautiful. To do His supreme work of grace within you I will take from your heart everything you love most. Everything you trust in will go from you. Piles of ashes will lie where your most precious treasures used to be." He prepares prior to placing in a situation. He did it with David prior to Goliath, among the many examples given in Scripture. As such he prepared me before taking this class, both long ago and more recently. The culmination of this has been an absolute adherence to Scripture in its sufficiency, taking it as the standard of measure to the methods and actions of man. I have found that when leading a class of people in the truths of Scripture, the influence in staying true to God through his Word is pleasing to him. If I were to undercut His authority with faulty, distorted, and biased reasoning based upon man's precepts through psychology, sociology, or anthropology, I would then become the fool teaching others how to become the fool. This class has only strengthened my resolve in God and his Word. In that pressing in, those I teach will not get a curriculum of process, but a lesson in absolute truth. As Proverbs 24 and Malachi 3 states, "...fear the LORD and the king; do not associate with those who are given to change, for their calamity will rise suddenly;" "I the LORD do not change. So you...are not destroyed."

It isn't so much what I learned, but rather the information provided confirmation with what I already knew. The ideal of the group is consensus in action. The expectation which the group is building as to successful group discussion is toward consensus as the only adequate basis for common action. The group in its collective dialogue in critical thinking presents an environment of change. The movement is based on feelings rather than fact, bypassing the wall of intellect to the more base entity of emotion. This level of emotion or feeling is deeper, more pervasive, and more closely related to action through anxieties and fears of a perceived situation than is the level of words can attain. It is drawn out by the leader, who's typically a trained facilitator, using key phrases to get an emotional response. Some of those phrases in leading the discussion begin with I wonder, I feel, It seems to me, etc. This facilitated language of change endeavors to create an appeal for always asking, so what; a pointed question in ideally ascertaining a higher level of understanding through questioning its original purpose. To accomplish this in a group setting, where a mix of people can exist, feelings of not belonging must be forestalled by making everyone feel welcome and wanted. However, when a "we" feeling exists, re-education is at the threshold due the group dynamic involved. No one wants to break from the group, even if the group is wrong. Yet, the phrases mentioned previously are significant as it gives the perception which functions in guiding behavior into a herd mentality. The group is primarily designed to accomplish an initial goal of creating a new synthesis. It takes the thesis of to know (facts divide us) to the antithesis of to feel (feelings change us) to get the resultant synthesis of to reason (felt facts unite us). Most groups are not Christian fellowships in the truest biblical sense. They are groups put together for their resources by the leadership of the church. The lost are encouraged to join these groups where salvation is barely secondary, if it is even broached. The drive to gain members is conducted for any and all so long as they'll be manageable for resources. That is the catalyst behind community outreach projects, and the reason an emphasis is on the surrounding community instead of focusing on the body of Christ as a separate entity. It's true. What's worse, most use the Great Commission as their mantra in doing such a thing thereby placing it ahead of the two greatest commandments. Even still, the Great Commission is a didactic instruction itself. God's position on the matter is that He teaches truth to man and expects man to obey it (a didactic certainty). Satan meanwhile facilitates man to "help" him discover the "truth" (a dialogue uncertainty). Truth cannot be dialogued. It must be presented as fact and obeyed. Satan dialogued with himself and Eve, and tried to dialogue with Jesus yet Christ refused this, by referring with the truth, "It is written..." God is close-minded concerning his point of view of the world and holds man accountable for refusing to accept it. Fallen man is closed minded when he refuses to accept God's point of view as the only true and objective point of view. God's ways and thoughts are established forever; man's values and opinions are not.

There are numerous questions that come to mind regarding small groups. Why are small groups so focused on dialoguing instead of instructing in a rote manner? Why do pastors and leaders concern themselves with implementing such a system that's based upon a Transformational Marxist model? Why is the small group model justified with thinly veiled references to Scripture? Why is there such a level of tolerance of inaccurate opinions concerning biblical issues without correction? There are more but this will suffice. I know the answers. I wonder why so many don't.

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