"The more amazed we are at our salvation, the more we will foster a culture of honest, grace-filled conversation about sin."
- Mark Dever and Jamie Dunlop, The Compelling Community, pp. 182
Confession and communion
One great benefit of being committed to other Christians in community is the ability to live out the exhortation of James 5:16, “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed.”
For Christians, confession of sin in the presence of others is a tangible way in which we apply and celebrate the gospel together. Communal confession is humbly admitting our sins, weaknesses and needs (before others) and acknowledging that God alone is our strength, refuge, and salvation (Ps 28:6-9).
1 John 1:6-9 says, "If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This is both a warning and a promise. The warning is against hardness of heart that seeks to avoid confession and stay in the dark. The promise is that when we bring our sins into the light through confession, God is faithful to forgive us and cleanse us. The beauty of confession is that it builds community by encouraging each of us to walk in the light of God as the family of God.
In his book, Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes that "In confession there takes place a breakthrough to community. Sin wants to be alone with people… In confession the light of the gospel breaks into the darkness and closed isolation of the heart… Sin that has been spoken and confessed has lost all of its power. It has been revealed and judged as sin. It can no longer tear apart the community.’ (p.110)”
This week in your gatherings you will be practicing communal confession, in response to the forgiveness we have received in Jesus. Then you, as a leader, will get the opportunity to serve communion to your group. It's important to note that communion is only for those who are professing Christians. As disciples, we are instructed by Jesus (Lk. 20:19-20; 1 Cor. 11:23-26) to take communion in remembrance of the sacrifice He made on our behalf. His broken body and shed blood for the forgiveness of our sins.
Here is a guideline for your gatherings:
• VISION CAST - Setup the time for the evening. Remind the group about the commitment to safety and confidentiality before moving into a time of confession.
• ACTIVITY - Spend time in confession with one another. This can be done in Subgroups or as a large group. Consider reading or having someone read one or more of these Corporate Confessions listed on Monergism.com. You might even reference the examples in scripture of God's people collectively confessing given at the bottom of the page (e.g., Neh. 9 - The people of Israel corporately "made confession and worshipped the LORD their God.").
Afterward, then move into a time of response by taking communion together. The elements should be served by you. Here is some guidance for that time together by SmallGroups.com: Build Community Through Communion. As per our normal Sunday practice I would suggest having the participants dip the bread into the wine or juice. However, the most important part is identifying the significance of each element (bread and wine/juice). Allow enough time for people to reflect and pray.
• CLOSE - Cast vision for the weeks to come. What will you be doing together after the sermon series ends? Identify your goals for your group throughout the Summer Social time (June 17th - August 5th). This is when our groups gather in parks, create parties and events or do service projects together - all with the focus of building relationship with each other and non-Christians. This is a great time to team up with other DGs in your area as well. Close your time in prayer.
Coming up next week: we will covering the topic of worship. In your gatherings you will be sharing a meal, singing Doxology, reading scripture aloud, praying and sharing evidence of God's grace with one another.
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