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July 6, 2009

Week 5: How to Repent

For your group's sake, consider this seldom-considered practice.



Confession.jpg

This is a new experience for me when it comes to Dot Com(unity). As I've written posts for other weeks of study, I've been at least fairly confident in my grasp of and experience with the material.

But not this week. I have a grand total of one experience with confession/repentance in a small-group setting. That experience went well, but it was several years ago, and I have yet to build up enough courage to try again with a new group. This is one of those things where intellectually I know the practice of confession is beneficial to all Christians, and would be of help in my group. But practically I just can't think of a good way to bring it up!

Do I say, "Hey, tonight feels like a good night to confess some sins. Steve, would you like to start?" Or maybe, "I've been struggling with pride in the last week. Steve, what about you?"

So, if you've got a good idea on how to initiate the practice of confession in a small group, please do me a favor and let us know about. Please!

All that being said, here are a few observations that I do feel confident about concerning this week's study material:

Whining Spiritual Babies
That was one of the headlines from Frederica Matthewes-Greene's article, and it really caught my attention. So did this quote:

We’re confirmed in this expectation by a ceaseless stream of advertising messages. These messages tell us who we are: special, precious people with no faults, who deserve to feel better than we do. Ads tell us, "Your wife (boss, teenager, classmate) doesn’t understand you, but we do. Here, buy this, and you’ll feel better." Advertising invites us to be big babies—an invitation that fallen human nature has always found hard to resist.

Do you agree? Disagree? I think this would be a great discussion to have with your group, either as an icebreaker or in the middle of your teaching.

Teachable Moment
If you have a small group of committed Christians, chances are they really enjoy learning something new and deep about the Bible. Especially when they are given the chance to see a familiar Scripture passage and in a new way.

You have that opportunity in Teaching Point 2 of this week's study material. It focuses on Psalm 51, which David wrote after his sin with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah. The author of the study identifies this psalm as a "chiasm," and takes great pains to dissect the structure and motives behind David's words.

This is deep stuff, and I am betting your group will love it. Whether you teach this yourself or allow your group to work through the written material, be sure to camp out on this section for a good period of time.

And don't forget to let us know how it goes...

posted by Sam O'Neal on July 6, 2009 6:43 AM

Related Tags: Confession, Dot Com(unity), Repentance

Comments

Hi Everyone,

I just noticed that the link in the newsletter that goes to this page is busted. One character off. Very sorry about that! I hope you're able to find your way here, still, and I hope this is a great week for your group.

Sam

Like so many of the tougher spiritual practices, confession is best taught by modeling. I think this is one of the reasons it is not practiced well in the church today. But MAN! how we need it!

I was raised a Catholic, and started attending Protestant churches when I was 16. Confession to a priest in a little, private room was never something that was very hard for me to wrap my head around, because it was just what I had always done. Besides, I had not been to confession in a couple of years when I quit attending the Catholic church.

Imagine my surprise the first time I witnessed an altar call at my grandmother's Freewill Baptist church! While I do see the point in confessing one's sins to another person, as I grew older I did become, I guess we could say discontent, with the idea of a priest telling you to say a certain number of this prayer and that prayer to absolve you of your sins. As I matured in my faith, I realized the common misconception amongst those who are unfamiliar with the Catholic faith is that Catholics believe by just saying these prayers you are absolved. That is in no way true. The Catholic church assumes, just as any Protestant church does, that the sinner is actually sorry for what they have done and truly intends to try to never do those things again.

I believe confession is an integral part of releasing from within ourselves the guilt and shame we feel when we have sinned. Confessing our sins to another human being is partly about that integral need we all have to find someone to share our faults with, someone who will not judge us or look at us differently afterward. It is also important for the other person to see that the repentant one is human, and has faults like everyone does. It is a learning experience for both parties.

As far as doing so in a group setting, I believe that it would be important for all parties involved to be strong, stable Christians who would not be sitting there simply getting a tittilating thrill of hearing someone else "air their dirty laundry". It would have to involve mutual respect on the part of all involved, and I think it would be important for everyone in the room to be quite sure they are all mature enough to be able to handle the responsibility of knowing others' fallacies and faults to such a private degree.

That's a great perspective, Trina. I think there are so many misconceptions between Evangelicals and the Catholic church, and you've hit one of the big ones.

I really appreciate yourperspective Trina and that's true in the society in which we are living many people do have the misconceptions between the Evangelicals and chatolic church.Thanks for sharing your perspective.

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