Why Relational Safety? – If people don’t feel like they can share than they won’t bring things to light and won’t grow.
8For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.Eph 5:8-11
What keeps us from establishing relational safety?
Gossip, lack of commitment, obnoxious fixing, arrogance, not listening well
How to establish it.
- Integrity: keep commitments to timelines and communication
- Confidentiality not betrayal- overtly commit to it and ask for permission to share a story. No gossip, even among spouses!
- Compassion not judgment: listen well, be curious, don’t try to fix, ask for what they need
- Vulnerability: set an example knowing that people will only go as deep as you go
Ideas for building trust, vulnerability, and connection…
Note: These are hard! There’s a reason we grow when the status quo is pushed. These are probably best practiced when men and women are separated. Remember, the ultimate basis for safety relationally is the fact that we are safe in Christ. This allows us to risk and walk in the light as 1 John says …
1 John 1:5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
One Minute Four Minute Exercise – Remind everyone of Confidentiality. Wait till the group has begun to really connect.
– One Minute: Using a timer, the leader begins and gives a one minute version of their story. Similar to what you’d say when introducing yourself at a party or to someone for the first time. Family, origin story, where you’ve lived, what you do for work, school. Everyone in the group does this for no more than a minute each.
– Four Minutes: The leader begins again but starts with “The story I didn’t tell you…” The goal is to go as deep as possible without telling long stories about a single event. For example “the story I didn’t tell you is that I constantly struggle with depression, the story I didn’t tell you is that I am an angry person often, the story I didn’t tell you is that I often feel lonely, The story that I didn’t tell is that I love my spouse deeply…” It’s more of a “shotgun” approach than a single long story. Share positive and negative things.
– Debrief – What were you aware of when you were listening to each other’s stories? – How did others’ stories affect you? – How did it affect you to tell your own story? – What is the impact on your lives when you keep things in secret? – How does hiding these things serve you? – How does not hiding them serve you? – How can we support each other?
“How I Hide” Exercise
– Each person in the circle takes about 30 seconds to describe how they hide from others. (Internally judging, distancing, faking it, know it all, silence, etc)
– Each person in the circle takes about 30 seconds to describe how they hide from God. (Lack of prayer, willful sins, shame, religiosity instead of intimacy)
– Debrief – What is the impact on our lives when we hide from God and others? – How do we imagine this serves us? – How doesn’t it serve us? – How can we support each other?
Image of Christ/Blessing Exercise – The intention is to practice seeing others for who they really are in Christ by calling it out! Someone volunteers to be blessed first. The leader instructs everyone in the group to begin each blessing by making eye contact with the person being blessed and saying “The image of Christ I see in you is….This will be a short phrase or even one word. You don’t go in any order and you can say more than one thing to a person. The person receiving isn’t allowed to argue or interrupt, just say “thank you”.
– If available, use a 3×5 card for each person, writing what each person in the group says.
– Pray a short prayer over the person.
– Debrief after every one receives. What are you aware of? Why is it hard for us to receive and give blessing?
– See the document below for more