The Power of Transparency

Being a leader and being front and center of a group comes with risks.  One of those risks that I believe Sunday school and small group leaders must take is transparency.  Transparency is a risk because it makes us vulnerable.  When you willingly open up to a group about your struggles, whether personal or spiritual, you risk exposure.  It's why many group leaders consider transparency a risk they aren't willing to take.

The truth is that none of us have it all together.  Transparency makes following Christ look real.  When we share our struggles and how God has graciously worked in our lives to conform us to the image of Christ, it makes it easier for others in the class to do so.  As class and group leaders, you can lead the way in making your group a more open and transparent group.  When you do that, I believe your group will be stronger in 3 ways as a result.

1. A Spiritual Force

Satan is a deceiver.  And one of his greatest tactics is getting believers to think that their struggles and temptations are unique to them.  He wants nothing more than to isolate believers and get them to think that no one else struggles the way they do.  This lie causes believers to feel too ashamed to share our deepest needs and temptations with each other.  James 5:16 says that we should "confess our sins to one another, and pray for one another".  Why?  Because, James goes on to say "so that you may be healed.  The prayer of a righteous person is very powerful in its affect".  In other words, the best way to fight Satan's deception is to confess our faults to each other, be open, and pray for each other.  Prayer frightens Satan and makes demons tremble.  Transparency and openness among your group leads to a group that is a spiritual force to be reckoned with.

2. A Relational Force

It is an inevitable fact of life that we are all going to go though times of trial and heartache.  People in church who are not connected to a group often feel like they must face these hard times alone.  For those who are connected to a group, they might often feel this way as well if the group is not open and transparent.  Part of being in fellowship with each other is helping bear one another's burdens.  According to Galatians 6:2, bearing one anther's burdens helps fulfill the law of Christ which is primarily summed up in loving God with all your heart and loving others as yourself.  A group that shares their hurts and bears one another's burdens is a relational force that can go a long way in building community in a church, and group leader take the lead in this by bearing the burdens of your group and allowing them to help you carry yours.

3. An Intellectual Force

Any time a group of people come together to study the Bible questions arise.  As a group leader you constantly have to make sure that you are creating an environment where it is safe to ask questions, share confusions about Scripture, and address doctrinal concerns.  This is how we all grow in Christ.  As a leader you must ask the hard questions and help address some of the confusions your people may have about the Bible.  You don't have to have all the answers, but you do have to allow for an environment where it is safe to have questions and confusions. Being open and honest in this regard creates a group that longs to dive deeper into the truths of God's word.  This creates an intellectual force in your church and can inspire other groups to start doing the same.  True spiritual growth happens when groups are willing to address the tough questions of the Bible and help each other dig in to find answers.  God desires to renew all of us, including our minds (Romans 12:2), and creating an open and transparent group can aid in this.

I hope you as a group leader are willing to try to foster a transparent environment in your groups.  The power of transparency is that it frees people up to pursue Christ without fear and without shame.  It allows people to be open about temptations and sin.  It allows for people to truly pray for the real spiritual needs of each other.  It allows for us to have the privilege of bearing one anther's burdens.  And it allows your group to grow together in Christ.  A transparent group is a group that is not easily shaken when hard times set in.  They pray for each other, care for each other, and ultimately desire for each other's lives to glorify Christ.  I think we would all love to be part of a group like that.


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