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Healthy groups

26 December 2022 ‘As iron sharpens iron, so people can improve each other.’ Proverbs 27:17 NCV

What groups are you part of? Chances are there are quite a few – friendship groups, Bible study groups, church committees, sports teams, shared interest groups on social media…the list could go on. They can be great places of support, love, and encouragement – ‘As iron sharpens iron, so people can improve each other.’ But if we’re not careful, they can become cliquey and exclusive, where, instead of being built up, we’re torn down by criticism. So it’s a good idea to do a ‘health check’ on the groups we’re involved with. Here are some questions to ask: 1) Do we welcome outsiders? We get comfortable with familiar people and patterns. Bringing in someone new can upset the balance, so we close the doors and (often without realising), make newcomers feel unwelcome. But we might be missing out on some valuable fresh perspectives. 2) Is it a place of encouragement? Do you come away from the group feeling refreshed and uplifted, or disheartened? Constructive criticism can be so valuable if it’s given with the right heart and motives, but some groups, especially those online, can turn into places of harsh condemnation. So give words of encouragement: ‘Do not say harmful things, but say what people need – words that will help others become stronger’ (Ephesians 4:29 NCV). 3) Am I comfortable sharing things? Some groups can become places of gossip. For our groups to thrive, we need to create an atmosphere where people are confident that they can share opinions, ideas, and feelings safely (and confidentially when necessary). Even if it’s not a church or a Christian group, let’s bring God’s heart into every group we’re part of, and keep them healthy.

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