One of the things that might confuse a newcomer coming into this great ministry is the way we introduce our self and do so every time we meet in a Step Group and/or Open discussion group. The question that often comes up is; “Why in the world would we have to introduce our self every time we come together? I mean, we all know each other don’t we? We all know what the other is struggling with right? So why should I have to state my main issue I am dealing with?
These are all logical questions and I think the below content from Tina at Saddleback might help shed some light on this.
As you may already know, in our small groups we ask our Leaders to introduce themselves with this statement: “Hi my name is _______; I am a believer who struggles with________.” We ask our leaders to keep it short; to stick to one or two primary areas of recovery. We ask them not to state a host of recovery issues and character defects, etc… especially because we do not run recovery specific groups for character defects. For example, one may never experience a full year’s sobriety from something like pride or fear.
With that standard, we would never qualify to lead an Open Share or Step group for pride or fear! Lastly, long CR introductions lose its impact. Your significant area of recovery gets buried and participants are not likely to “recall” what area of recovery you struggle with.
Each Leader has an opportunity to share about all their areas of recovery and character defects in their small groups and certainly when they share their testimonies. It is important that our Leaders set the example for our participants. Although we cannot control how participants introduce themselves, each participant should state their area of recovery at least once. If they don't, other group members will feel awkward and unsafe to express their own. At the very least, a newcomer may say, “Hi my name is _____, and I’m exploring this area of recovery.”
So why do we introduce ourselves to begin with? We asked this question of the CR National Training Coach Tina at Saddleback. This was her response: “As I was writing this blog, Pastor John Baker walked by my desk, so I asked him, “John, why do we introduce ourselves in this way?” He said, “If I ever forget my struggles, and the pain and destruction they caused, I am more prone to repeat them. It humbles me. It helps me remember what Christ has done for me.” So we introduce ourselves as believers because our identity is in Jesus Christ and not in our struggle or hurt. Isn’t that good news?! That is a huge paradigm shift for many newcomers coming into this ministry.
We identify our struggles so that we don’t repeat them, and to offer hope to those struggling with the same issues. Our introductions bring us closer together as a group by establishing accountability and strengthening our fellowship.
We cannot control the way participants introduce themselves. As a leader of the group, it’s really up to him/her if they want to re-introduce themselves. Some leaders do every time at their own discretion. Some leaders were originally programmed this way and believe it really helps the newcomer remember their name. However, if someone in your group chooses not to do the full introduction every time then we need to be ok with that as leaders.
Tina- CR National Training Coach
Rodney- CR NWA State Representative Arkansas