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Circles of Trust Insights for Church Small Groups

Posted on December 3rd, 2010

Geri and I have been deeply influenced  in how we lead teams and small groups by Circles of Trust developed by Parker Palmer and the Center for Courage to Renewal . The insights from Circles of Trust form the backdrop and foundation of our efforts to create healthy community at New Life. In fact just last month we launched our small group of 22 people! The following are a few sample guidelines we shared with our small group at our first meeting:
  • Speak for Yourself – Use “I” statements as much as possible.
  • No Fixing, Saving, or Advising – Jesus alone is the Savior
  • Turn to Wonder – If you feel judgemental or defensive when someone is sharing, ask yourself, “I wonder what brought him/her to this belief?” “I wonder what my reaction teaches me about me?”
  • Silence – It is okay to have silence between responses as the group shares, giving members opportunity to reflect.
  • Share for Yourself, Not to Teach — We share to confirm and solidify what God is doing in ourselves first, not to teach others. When we share in that kind of humility, it very often helps others.
  • Respect Others – Be brief in your sharing, mindful that there are time limitations and others who may want to share.

Our commitment is to created a loving place where the soul of each person feels safe. As Palmer writes, “It excludes the violence we sometimes do to each other in love’s name. I do not mean the overt, physical violence of an abusive relationship. I mean the subtle violence we do when we violate the other’s solitude with the intention of being helpful.” (A Hidden Wholeness, p. 62) What else do we sometimes do that unknowingly violates people’s journey and dignity as seek to lead them more deeply into formation in Christ?

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