WEEK 4 - Entry Gates
A couple years ago I met a friend for coffee. He had wanted to discuss his struggle with anger and how it was affecting his marriage. As he confessed details of his experience I listened and could tell that he was remorseful for his actions. But, it seemed like he didn't understand why he kept responding the same way.
Throughout the conversation, I heard multiple reasons why he was angry; long hours at work, financial struggles, hard situations within the family. He also, at one point, mentioned that he felt unlovable. In other moments I heard his desire to honor God and how much he wanted to change. He just didn't know how.
Often, when someone shares a struggle like this our default is to focus on circumstance rather than the heart. We want to relieve the hurt or explain away the sin rather than pursuing them further. We can often just want to "fix the problem" by handing out platitudes. Or possibly we don't even know how to engage.
This week in our groups we will take the next step forward in the skill of listening. We will be learning how to identify entry gates in conversation. These are small steps in vulnerability that people make as they share. It's a movement toward deeper openness that allows us to pursue others further.
It is risky though. For the one sharing, there is a risk of what it might mean to be open with someone else. To be truly known. For the listener, it's risky because of what it might mean to really know another person. This definitely will challenge our fears and insecurities. Those in your group may be tempted to stay at safe distance. That's ok. Encourage them to step out of their comfort zone. Invite them to take the risk because we have a God who loves and pursues us. Who desires to hear from us. Who examines our hearts, knows our every thought and yet still chose to die for us.
One of the entry gates that stood out in the conversation with my friend that day was him saying he felt unlovable. As I dove further in I asked him to explain that thought. It turned out, under it all, he doubted God's love for him. He understood it theologically but at the core of his heart didn't believe it applied to him personally. There was a gap. By listening closely I was able to hear that and speak truth into his life.
Family, this week, we conclude our training on the skill of listening. We will close out these sessions by listening for entry gates in our conversations and growing in our ability to incarnate love through listening.
MEDIA + LITURGY
Below is a guideline for your time together this week:
Vision Cast - 1 Thessalonians 5:9–11
For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
Consider how you can encourage your group this week. How have they been growing in love for each other? How have you grown in love for them? Most importantly, how have they been growing in Christlike character?
Training (video) - This week's video is just under 8 minutes. Throughout this series, it will be beneficial to break into subgroups for greater focus and depth of conversation. Especially if you have more than six adults in attendance.
Apprenticeship - As Pastor Joel mentions in the video we are looking for the following four types of phrases as people share. This is a skill to develop and takes practice but is an opportunity to grow in loving one another well;
Emotional words (e.g. "I'm afraid")
Interpretive words (e.g. "This shouldn't be happening")
Self-talk (e.g. "This always happens to me")
God talk (e.g. "I thought I was doing what God wanted")
Immersion - Again, spend 5 minutes or so briefly going through the questions. How has it been going? Are people participating? If not, why not? The skills we are learning and growing in are meant to be lived out. The experience in our gatherings is just one aspect of what it means to have holistic friendships.
Serve opportunity: We are still needing help with providing and serving food for Jobs for Life on the night of November 7th. Please contact me if you would like more information.