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Emotionally Healthy Skills and Transformation

Posted on April 22nd, 2008

Geri and I have been leading a research and development small group on emotionally healthy skills (or practices) that we have been writing for the past year. So we invited 15 people, singles and marrieds, from a variety of ethnic and age groups to gather in our basement and be our “guinea pigs” Last Sunday we did our 12th practice (triggers that cause us to react immaturely rather than pausing in order to maturely respond). The power of this small group and transformation continues to both astound me and raise theological/pastoral issues for me.  Every time Geri and I lead one of these experiential skill groups, people truly are changed – deeply. What is it? We also did a pre-conference on emotionally healthy skills at our pastors/leaders conference last week and that too was very impactful for them.  A former rabbi once told me sermons are like dropping a drop of water from the Empire State Building and hoping it hits somebody on the sidewalk to ease their thirst. In other words, that is what they are like in comparison of giving people an experience like emotionally healthy skills (building a genogram, clean fighting, expectations, faulty thinking, “mind reading”, exploring your iceberg) where they can now truly live a transformed life. I believe in sermons. I believe in inductive bible study, the power of prayer, contemplative practices, worship, etc. I love the church and small groups. But this skill material takes people to a place is “sacred space” (as Martin Buber used to call it). They have profoundly impacted our marriage and daily life. We have one final week to go for this round of research. I look forward to a thoughtful evaluation with this group as we continue to refine and sharpen the “practices”, and I continue to wrestle with the theology around what we have been experiencing for the past 12 years and, in particular, in our recent small group. How has God been genuinely transforming you? What means has He used and is He using today?

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