Three Key Points for Community

Early this week I had the privilege of attending a conference on marriage ministry. Church leaders and volunteers from across the Carolinas came together to talk about how marriages positively impact society and how we as churches can invest in marriages. It was a beautiful afternoon.

The biggest takeaway for me from this conference wasn’t the topic or the techniques. It was the vulnerability.

The conference kicked off with a video testimony of a woman who had an affair. After the woman on the video shared her marriage challenges and story of redemption, she walked onto the stage.

This woman is one of the national leaders of the Re|engage marriage ministry.

Vulnerability is part of the DNA of Re|engage and is practiced at every level. As a result the program is working. Couples are coming into Re|engage and finding a place where they can admit their struggles and find healing and grace to grow past those struggles.

All I could think about when I saw this were our small groups and communities at ALIVE.


What if marriage ministry wasn’t the only place to find authenticity? What if our groups were a place to be fully known and fully loved? How revolutionary would it be if we—even just a few of us—found the courage to get real with our groups?


Getting real is a vital step for each of us in getting well. Researchers on shame have found that when survivors of trauma talked about their experiences their “physical health improved, doctor’s visits decreased, and they showed a significant decrease in their stress hormones” (Brene Brown, Daring Greatly). We all need this kind of honest connection, but most of us are afraid to open up.


So I wonder if we could take some baby steps as a church toward taking our Sunday morning “me too community” into our small groups, our homes, our communities. Here are a few thoughts on how we can move in this direction.

1) Don’t share everything with everyone, but share the tough things with someone.


Your group or community may not be the place for you to share every personal detail with every person present, but there may be one or two people in the group who you can trust. Take some time to reach out to someone when you are in the midst of your struggle and share what is really going on. I suspect as we do this, we’ll find out we are not alone, and the struggle will start to loosen its grip.


2) Ground rules can create a safe space for honesty.


It may be worth it to spend some time talking together with the people you do life with about what you will and will not share with others. A healthy ground rule may be, “in our group we will only share things we are personally trying to work through and won’t focus on someone else’s issues.” In Re|enage, they call this staying in your circle and working through all that’s going on with you while not trying to “fix” your spouse.


When people know what is and isn’t okay, it can help create a safe space for honesty to happen.

3) Pray with and for the people you do life with.

Whether you are trying to go deeper with your family, your friends, your spouse or your group, getting real is going to take some courage. Praying with and for the people we are doing life with can be the catalyst to those honest conversations. James tells us to pray if anyone is sick, happy, or in trouble, and goes on to tell us to “…confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed…”


Getting real is not always easy or natural, but imagine what could happen if we took the value of authentic community one step further. If you are in a group or Re|engage would you dare to be real with me?


And if you are not already plugged in, but looking for some people to get real with, check out one of our small groups or check out a Re|engage newcomers night the first Wednesday of each month.


I’m convinced that healing and vulnerability go hand in hand, and hope ALIVE will continue to be a place where everyone can come as they are and find a God who wants to heal and redeem.


See you Sunday!

     Justine Tegen