There can be no vulnerability without risk; there can be no community without vulnerability;
there can be no peace, and ultimately no life, without community. - M. Scott Peck

Saturday, May 29, 2010

An Invitation is All it Takes

Recent survey: 82% of Nativity members *not* currently in a small group might be willing to join if a friend invited them ... Does this give you any ideas??

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Reducing the "Buzz"

Lots of good stuff in group last night about creation, nature and God. It was interesting that everyone in the group could easily name places in nature where they connect with God. And yet, we all struggled with how so much in our daily lives isolates us from the natural world that so easily and strongly connects us to God. Computers, ipods, tvs, super highways, and on and on. We’ve even come to needing screensavers on our computers that simulate scenes in nature to remind us about nature which is often right outside our window! One of the guys talked about how humans are the only part of God’s creation that can envision new things and create them. It’s funny – or maybe sad – that many of the things that we have created have disconnected us from so much of God’s creation.
My take away – maybe I’m spending too much time worrying about the “forest” and missing the beauty of the individual “trees.” Maybe getting stuck for a little while in the trees wouldn’t be such a bad thing. I need to slow down just a bit in my daily life, turn off some of the electronic “buzz” for a while each day, and hear the voice of God speak to me through the amazing creation God has provided all around me. I’m looking forward to the rest of the series.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Being With

Talking with a few small-group-leader coaches last week, I asked what the ratio of "relationship" vs. "practical discussion" was for them and the leaders they meet with.  As usual, I found my own thoughts clarified as we discussed things, and clarified even more afterward, once I reflected on them.  These posts are usually another clarifying activity for me ... please pardon the self-serving motivations to write.

This is an important issue for me, since I hold the conviction that relationships themselves are of primary importance in any meaningful investment aimed at emotional or spiritual growth.  These coaches all responded that their time was mostly practical (working through questions, problems and possible solutions), which made me think that the relationship side might be suffering, but I later realized (remembered) that practical discussion is often a necessary setting for healthy relational exchange.

I remember talking with a friend about how men like to fish.  Not always for the sport itself (honestly, that takes a special personality), but because the setting provides an excuse to hang out and be together.  Women like to get together to talk about their lives.  Men are often afraid of this kind of vulnerability (requesting assistance is a flag of weakness), so we act tough and find activities to mask our motives, then we spend 80% of that time talking about nothing.  All for a set up for the purpose of just being together.

I had dinner with a few friends last night, and I took away some helpful and practical things to reflect on, but the very simple matter of just being with my friends who know me and give a shit about me is a far more valuable thing.  As you were.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


I was reminded afresh this week of the significant and often lasting impact of rejection.  Especially from a spouse or parent.  We have a strong drive to find people and groups that we can connect and belong to.  Most of us seek a significant other, we keep ties with our immediate and extended family, and we often maintain relationships in clubs, communities of worship, etc.  I'm sure it looks much different than the 1950's, but the drive is still there, even in our often-impersonal technology age: witness social networking.

What became clearer for me in our small group this week is how authentic friendships can become bonds that are unique, and contain elements that sometimes exceed even marriage and family bonds.  I think the latter are significant specifically because of their permanence despite life circumstances.  I suppose this keeps the life of the community ordered.  The former, however, are perpetually and completely voluntary.  It is one thing to be accepted by someone who has made a promise to do so, or by someone who is genetically or legally linked to us.  It is another kind of atmosphere where it is seen as acceptable by the surrounding community to disengage at any time, as in friendships, yet we choose not to.  Long and meaningful friendships are indeed unique.  I am convinced that these relationships should not be seen as ancillary, even if time and commitment priorities go to the more permanent bonds.  They matter immeasurably, and provide a kind of belonging that can be satisfied in no other way.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Being Authentic

"Authentic friendships are more than just superficial, surface level chit-chat. They involve genuine, heart-to-heart, sometimes gut-level, sharing. These friendships develop when we get honest about who we are and what is happening in our lives. They develop when we share our hurts, reveal our feelings, confess our failures, disclose our doubts, admit our fears, acknowledge our weaknesses, and ask for help and prayer." Rick Warren, Pastor, Saddleback Church
"I feel like an authentic friend. I share at a level of depth that I’ve never shared with any of my friends or family. I feel real…no lies or secrets—pretending to be someone I’m not. I don’t try to impress my small group or anyone else for that matter. It has inspired me to live a simple & God-Centered Life." Small Group Leader, Church of the Nativity
I am so blessed to be in a small group where authenticity is what we strive for and often achieve. Last night was another powerful example for us of what authentically telling our stories can do to transform us and those we share our stories with. You can't help but walk away feeling the awesome power of Jesus in our midst.
It's the power of authentic friendships centered in Jesus. The two quotes above say it all for me. This is what I pray my small group will be for me. This is what I pray I will be for my brothers in my group. This is what I pray everyone in a Nativity small group comes to experience. The power of Jesus working through authentic friendships.