Questions of self-disclosure and accountability
We talk about the community of faith – the "one another" verses express something of what that community is like, and its richest expression is perhaps in housegroups. One of the values we hold dear is “To know and be known” in a group. Transparency, Removal of masks, fellowship, community, intimacy, accountability: these are all about self-disclosure.
Where do you want your discussions to go? If you have given some teaching input then help group members to ask themselves “So what?” Where might this connect to their everyday lives?
So how do you encourage that in a group?
• Tell stories about yourself – model vulnerability/reality/unanswered questions.
• Ask the open questions of accountability – see suggestions below
• Encourage storytelling. Listen well and encourage the group to listen actively. Ask people more about the story they shared on another occasion.
• Not counselling – so it is appropriate for others to tell parallel stories (after listening). Some people need more listening than a group can handle – pastoral backup needed.
• Pray for people, Vineyard-style – stand up, lay on hands, bless what God is doing, expect words from God, pray them.
As a group leader how do you facilitate that kind of sharing - without forcing. Here is a list of questions you might find useful - though answering one question and praying through what comes up could easily take a whole evening once people feel able to share. Please add your own suggestions using the comment facility at the bottom of the page.
The questions can also be used in the context of a mentoring relationship or a prayer partnership.
The Bible and me
The idea is that a verse plus comment and question leads into each person sharing how they relate to the topic, then praying for each other. These questions can be used as the conclusion of a bible study or talk, or simply used as they stand.
“Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you....”
What fears do you have?
“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked
What are your greatest confusions about relating to God?
“Give thanks in all circumstances...”
What three things are you most thankful for?
“All things are permissable but not everything is beneficial”
What habits do you wrestle with?
“To those who received him, who believed on his name, he gave the right to become children of God”
How is your relationship with God now?
“The word of God is living and active...”
What have you read in the Bible recently? What did God say?
“But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind” Luke 14:13
Christ challenges our social behaviour: Do we surround ourselves with people whose position and reputation will somehow make us more significant? Or do we develop a strategy by which we can share what we are and have in gracious and generous friendship?
How is your relationship with those who have less than you?
“And we who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory”
Think of a person who has shown you by his or her life something of what Jesus is like. Tell the group about that person.
“Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs”
Share with the group any songs or scriptures that have been meaningful to you recently.
“Do not grumble against each other”
In what areas to you tend to wallow in self-pity or grumble?
Questions of accountability
• How is your relationship with God right now?
• What have you read in the Bible in the past week?
• What has God said to you recently?
• Where do you find yourself resisting him these days?
• What specific things are you praying for in regard to others?
• What specific things are you praying for in regard to yourself?
• What are the specific tasks facing you right now that you consider incomplete?
• What habits form patterns in your behaviour?
• What have you read in the secular press this week?
• What general reading are you doing?
• What have you done to play?
• How are you doing with your spouse? Children?
• If I were to ask your spouse about your state of mind, state of spirit, energy level, what would the response be?
• Are you sensing any spiritual attacks from the enemy right now?
• If Satan were to try to invalidate or discredit you as a person or as a servant of the Lord, how might he do it?
• What is the state of your sexual perspective? Tempted? Dealing with fantasies? Entertainment?
• When was the last time you spent time with a good friend of the same gender?
• What kind of time have you spent with anyone who is not Christian in the past month?
• What would you say are your fears at this present time?
• Are you sleeping well?
• What websites do you visit most?
• What three things are you most thankful for?
• Do you like yourself at this point in your pilgrimage?
• What are your greatest confusions about your relationship with God?
(some borrowed from Rebuilding your broken world, Gordon Macdonald)
Accountability in the workplace…
• What feedback have you received recently? Compliments, points for improvement, blame?
• What areas of professional competency are you struggling with?
• What opportunities for dishonesty do you face? Expenses, work resources, negotiation…?
• What challenges do you face with the staff you manage at the moment?
• What friendships are you forging at work?
• What is the state of your work/life balance? What pressures make you work extra hours?
• How do you manage your time and cope with your workload?
• What patterns of prayer and relating to God have you found in your daily and weekly schedule?
• In what ways have you identified yourself as a Christian in the workplace? Any plans?
• In what areas do you observe that you behave differently at church and work?
• What aspects of your work do you believe are a calling from God, and achieve Kingdom aims?
• What is your career focus? How does this relate to your passions, gifts and temperament?
• How do you feel about promotion and ambition in your workplace?
• What prayers have you said for work colleagues, situations, projects or issues?
• Where are you financially right now? (Under control? Anxiety? Debt?)
• What colleagues of the opposite sex do you spend time with?
• Are there any unresolved conflicts in your circle of relationships right now?
• What do your colleagues say about you?
• What challenges and changes do you think you are going to face in the coming week? Month?