We covered a good amount of material from the Care Group Leader Guide (found here), but focused mostly on vulnerability and, at the end, doctrinal discernment. We focused on Philippians 2 and considered how we as leaders can lead in “selfish ambition and conceit”. This can be done by making it all about ourselves, promoting ourselves, making ourselves out to be the experts and know-it all, etc. We also talked about the pitfalls of advice giving over actively listening.
The last two characteristics of a care group leader are “Leads the way in being vulnerable” and “Is doctrinally discerning when it comes to questions or topics that become controversial”. Using Philippians 2 as our starting point, we discussed how vulnerability is a state we’re all in by nature, it’s just whether we acknowledge it and faithfully embrace it in community for the purpose of glorifying God. “Openness” for it’s own sake can be self-promotion, but vulnerability, in the spirit of Jesus’ vulnerability, leads to the flourishing of community. As we look to Jesus, we see that he doesn’t require anything of us that he hasn’t done already. He was rejected, he was vulnerable as a baby, rejected during his life, and he was humiliated in his death. We see in Christ that the posture of vulnerability is what is needed to heal shame and to promote true human flourishing and authentic community. It’s a state we must pass through in order to connect more deeply, it’s not an end in and of itself.
Regarding doctrinal discernment, we discussed our need to be cautious, but also to be gracious. It is important that we own that we are not experts on every topic and reading someone else’s opinion doesn’t make us so. Just because our favorite blogger/author cautions against an individual book, doesn’t mean that we need to shame someone for reading it. Of course, we can’t read everything under the sun and need to rely on others who are well qualified and well read. But recognize the source for what it is and don’t find your identity in a label or another person. Instead of getting caught up in ideas, labels, and categories, we need to love the person in front of us. That looks like asking things like, “how did that book affect you? How have you grown from it? What’s your favorite thing about it?” Then listen. Afterwards there’s no harm in saying, “you know, I’ve read from _________ and they cautioned against this author because of _____________. Did you come across that at all?” We’re to be as wise as servants and gentle as doves. The best way to correct false teaching is to do it in love, not shame. Shame and it’s judgements only create barriers, which is exactly what we don’t want to happen! We want connected community for the making and maturing of disciples. Roasting someone based off your third hand information is not ok. No third hand heresy hunters please!
At the end of the day we ought not overcompensate either way. Truth and love cannot be separate, or they fail to be the truest version of truth and love. The eternal Logos of God became flesh, the clearest example of truth was embodied in Christ. We, as his body, are to continue in faithfulness to that truth while embodying that love. I quoted from a story in Paul Tripp’s New Morning Mercies devo from January 25 (sovereignly ordained!) that really hit this home. Ideas are so much more easy to love than people who think differently. We can hide behind our walls of doctrine and not actually engage with real humans! Let us pursue having the same mind and the same love, not finding our identity in ideas but in Christ, who was the embodiment and source of all Truth!