A lot of deep sharing will organically happen in a small group over time, but you should intentionally use some discussion time in you group for these four types of sharing: confessing your sins, sharing your joys, sharing your sorrows and sharing your dreams.
Confessing your sins should be a regular thing, because many problems we face in life are a symptom of unconfessed sin. Sin is like a sickness, and sometimes you may be sick and not even know it. James 5:16 (NASB) tells us to “therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed.”
There was a time in my life when I was in a dark place. I had lost my job along with some friendships, and I was a difficult person to be around. After feeling depressed and becoming overweight, I finally confessed to some of the men in my group that I was living a very emotionally and physically unhealthy lifestyle. Once I shared that, they were able to pray for me, and it eventually led to me being healed mentally and physically. Not only did it help me relationally, but I even began eating healthy, working out and losing weight. Thank God I shared those things with my group.
In the same way we should share our sorrows, so that our group can bear our burdens. Galatians 6:2 says to “carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Sometimes tragedy strikes on its own, but we don’t have to go through it alone. In fact, you may discover others have some of the same feelings, questions and insecurities as you during a trial. The deepest level of bonding occurs when you suffer together with others. A woman in my office was a cancer survivor and overheard another woman one day share her story about fighting breast cancer. The two co-workers had never really spoken before, but after talking about their shared battle with cancer, they became very close friends. They have started their own support group of sorts in the office.
As we march through battles together, don’t forget to share your joys. Celebrate what God has helped you overcome. If he has given you victory over a trial or given you anything you’ve been praying for, you should rejoice with others. 2 Corinthians 13:11 (NIV) says “brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace.” A good indicator of full restoration is when you rejoice.
Finally, share your big dreams and hopes for the future. Your small group can encourage you, provide feedback and even lend a hand to help make it happen. If you have a God-sized dream, it’s probably too big for you to fulfill on your own. You’ll need help because you don’t possess every gift or skill required to complete such a task. 1 Peter 4:10 (NIV) says “you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”
The four types of authentic sharing are great for bonding and encouragement, but they need to be wrapped tight in prayer. As we share, we should enlist our group to faithfully pray over our sharing, and likewise pray for others in your group. Like Romans 12:12 (NIV) says “be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” I pray for the kind of authenticity in your group that leads to healing, restoration, celebration and the realization of dreams.