1. Likely your group hasn't been meeting regularly or in the usual manner over the summer. Take a minute to catch up. How is everybody--really? Did anything hard or sad or wonderful happen while you were apart?
2. This week we're talking about authenticity. Let's practice being real! Go around the group and have each member share one weakness and one strength, one thing they're bad at and one thing they're great at.
What does it mean to be authentic? Think of a thing (not a person) you might describe as authentic. Make a list of things (examples: Chinese food, antiques, baseball cards). What do you mean when you call those things authentic?
Now think of a person you'd describe as "authentic" (or full of integrity). What about that person makes him or her authentic?
Do you personally struggle with authenticity? Is it hard to be your full, real, self? If so, what do you think makes that kind of vulnerability/integrity hard? What are the potential negative consequences of being authentic?
Share a time when a person was vulnerable with you. Did that moment of shared vulnerability change your relationship in any way? What about you? Have you ever been courageously vulnerable with someone? How'd it go?
Read Genesis 2:25. "Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame."
- Vulnerability often brings shame. Do you feel embarrassed when you imagine telling people private things about yourself?
- Why didn't Adam and Eve feel any shame? What does it take to be your full, "naked" self in a relationship? What needs to exist within that relationship?
Do you have people in your life who you've known for years but feel like you don't really know? Why do you think that is? What behaviors and/or attitudes are keeping you from getting close?
Make a list of reasons why authenticity is good for relationships.
Think of practical steps toward being more authentic. What can you do tomorrow to pursue more authenticity, vulnerability and integrity in your relationships? What will you do differently?
James 5:16 // Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
- What is the consequence of confessing our sins to one another and praying for each other?
- Have you ever experienced physical, emotional, or relational healing after confession? Tell the group about it.
- What's required in order for you to feel comfortable confessing to a friend? How should we respond when someone confesses to us?
Group prayer depends upon members being vulnerable with one another. Tonight as you take prayer requests, encourage members to be transparent. Remember, in order for members to feel safe sharing their full selves, you'll need to handle their requests with gentleness, compassion, and grace.
FOR DIGGING DEEPER
Consider doing one of these three things as a group:
2. Read and discuss the following quote from The Velveteen Rabbit. What does it mean? What wisdom does it offer for us in our pursuit of real-ness?
“Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.'
'Does it hurt?' asked the Rabbit.
'Sometimes,' said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. 'When you are Real you don't mind being hurt.'
'Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,' he asked, 'or bit by bit?'
'It doesn't happen all at once,' said the Skin Horse. 'You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.”
― Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit
3. Play a round of Holy Truth or Dare (but without the dare). "Holy" means all the questions have the best interests of the people playing in mind. :) Ask questions like these: What kind of person do you want to be, but know you aren't yet? Which fruit of the Spirit is God growing most in you right now? Do you want to be an elder one day? Why or why not? How do you think you're actually doing as a parent? What relationship in your life needs the most work?