If you formed a new group at GroupLink in January, you're probably getting close to doing Session 4 in Community: Starting Well. Beginning in Session 4 and lasting for at least three weeks, you and your group members will share your stories with one another. As the group's leader, you'll start things off. And believe it or not, your story—the way you tell it—has the power to set the trajectory for the rest of your group experience.
No pressure, right?
Here's the good news: what I'm not saying is that your story needs to be as riveting as a Steven Spielberg movie. What I am saying is that the members of your group will probably only be as open and transparent when they tell their stories as you are when you tell yours. You're going to set the standard.
So, go there.
Don't sugarcoat your story. Don't try to present yourself as a perfect Christian (you're not a perfect Christian and neither is anyone else). If there's sin in your story, go there. If there's loss in your story, go there. If there's tragedy in your story, go there. After all, there's sin, loss, and tragedy in everyone's story. None of us lives a charmed life. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
Telling your story—your true story—can be intimidating. We all fear rejection. There's a little voice in the back of our minds that says, "If they really knew me . . . ." But telling your true warts-and-all story may be the thing that creates deep connection in your group because it may give everyone else in the group permission to be open and transparent as well.
Transparency is a priceless relational commodity in our culture. People rarely feel free to really be themselves among others. If you're brave enough to be open with your story, you'll give your group members a great gift: an invitation to be open with theirs.
First Thessalonians 5:10–11 says, "[Jesus] died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." But before we can encourage and build one another up, we have to be honest with one another about who we are. Telling each other our stories can be a huge step in that direction.
So, go there.