I read a blog post by Dan Mancini this past week that communicated an essential requirement for a healthy and growing group. A safe environment. There is much discussion that I have about how a safe environment opens the door to community. It’s essential for building connection. But society shapes us to keep our guard UP! To keep a safe distance between the world and the “real me.” More than ever, we need a safe environment that we can deal with life’s struggles and hurts.
Dan put it this way. People who don’t feel safe shut themselves off from what the Holy Spirit might do in their lives through the group. In a safe environment, there are no obstacles and distractions to get in the way of the Spirit’s work. A safe environment is irresistible. We all crave acceptance and naturally gravitate towards the people and places where we feel it. And safe environments are full of acceptance.
You have an opportunity to create an environment in your group that makes it a brightly lit place in a dark and often unsafe world. Imagine if your group was a place where your group members could:
- Let down their guard
- Feel free to talk about what’s going on in their lives without fear of judgment or criticism
- Be vulnerable
- Feel valued and accepted
That kind of environment nurtures the sort of tight community that leads to spiritual growth. If the point of a small group is to grow spiritually, then we need to help create the environment were that is most likely a reality.
What are some ways to create a “safe environment?”