I’ve been reading something very interesting by Joanna Jung. She teaches over at Biola (I had the privilege of sharing a bit of office space with her when I taught there) wrote a book called, Godly Conversations. The book is about evaluating our methodology of small group ministries in churches. While bringing up certain problems (e.g., either content driven or too polite, it leaves the Bible open to private interpretation) she points to a Puritan practice as a better way to see small groups.
The practice was called the Holy Conference, which was a type of intentional conversation that was brought about by asking particular questions. The Puritans practiced this when they met in smaller groups. By asking these questions, it revealed the heart and it was the basis for which people could then pray for one another. Jung takes the questions the Puritans asked and puts them in a contemporary setting that if we asked them in our small groups, it would make a tremendous difference.
- What does God want you to know about Him? What does God want you to know about yourself?
- For what is your soul thankful?
- What are the words or actions that demonstrate your soul’s love for Christ?
- What is your soul afraid of God knowing?
- What stands now between God and your soul?
This represents a centuries old practice. I’m not saying that these are the questions we want to ask but they represent a good start. Here’s what Jung writes and I think it’s helpful… “Consider asking these types of questions and, more importantly, answering them with attentiveness to your own heart and the hearts of others. In good company and conference the goodness of God and the struggles of life meet in loving acceptance, godly direction, and transforming community.”
We must not be satisfied with simply numerical growth. The real barometer seems to be the depth to which our heart is open to God and to others. Learning to ask these questions takes social opportunities and turns them into divine appointments for connecting with one another on more than a surface level.