I was recently talking to a local church that is looking to start CR in their church. As we discussed all the many things needed to keep the ministry safe and healthy, the discussion came up about the guidelines. Small Group guidelines are designed to keep our groups safe and productive. The question came up specifically about allowing someone to share beyond the 3-5 minutes.
One of the frustrating things I have seen in any small group format is when one person dominates the conversation and others don’t get a chance to share what they have on their own heart. Each person should have equal time to express themselves. Then the flip side is we need to listen to others sharing. Listening is a huge part of the recovery process and grows us more than we realize.
Most people don’t have an issue of keeping sharing to 3-5 minutes and even seem to embrace it. Most people tend to begin rambling after the five minutes anyway. This teaches us to keep our thoughts organized and stay away from rambling.
So what’s the issue?
I think where the confusion comes in is when someone who may be sharing, perhaps for the first time in what is referred to as a “real deep” “break-through” sharing. Do we let them keep sharing past the 3-5 minutes? Ah, tough question. Or is it?
I have had leaders, with their big hearts say, “the participant in their group hadn’t shared deeply to that point and I just didn’t want to interrupt that “great” sharing.”
Sometimes, something that will cause us to believe it is deep sharing as opposed to other times is the fact that we “visually” see lots of tears and emotion. Tear are so good cause there is great healing in those tears. However, Our response to our leaders in these cases is that even when it appears that the “break-through” is happening, we still have an obligation to uphold the guidelines.
It is also important that we remember that visuals aren’t always what they seem. For example, there are some men and even women in groups that will “great” sharing and have a major “break-through” and yet not shed even one tear. So, knowing that, the question has to be asked “Is it really better sharing because we see tears and is it really fair to let the one who cries have longer time to share than the one who does not cry?” Truth be told, I am a crier and my heart strings get pulled when I see a brother or sister crying. And again, this is not a knock on tears while sharing but the answer is no. We must keep the group safe and healthy by upholding the guidelines all the time, not just when it seems important.
Safe? How can having someone share over five minutes create an unsafe group?
The thing I tell folks all the time is that if we let that guideline get bypassed, what is to say we won’t allow other guidelines get bypassed. In the attendees mind set the question will come up about their safety on anonymity and confidentiality being broken. As the leader, our response, in love, will be the same, “please wrap up your sharing. Or “Let’s allow someone else to share now.”
Remember, even though it may not “look” like a break-through, doesn’t mean it’s not. And even if it is a break-through, we still want to teach each person to get their thoughts organized and keep their sharing within the 3-5 minutes.
Our primary responsibility as leaders is to keep the group safe by upholding the guidelines.
I pray that your break-through that is coming will bring deep healing in your life. Our hope is that in our CR groups you find a safe environment that points you to Christ.
Have a blessed day and I look forward to seeing you in a Friday Night open discussion group or weekly Step Study group soon.
For more information about Celebrate Recovery contact Rodney at firstname.lastname@example.org or 479-659-3679