What to do when someone contradicts what you believe is true in the Bible?

It happened quickly!

She blurted it out with the confidence that everyone believed what she did, except they didn’t. The leader sat stunned not sure what to do. A member of the group had just shared something that was not considered an orthodox Christian belief and was not a belief of Faith Community Church.

What would you do as a leader in this situation?

We already encourage all Faith Groups to welcome people no matter where they are spiritually, so we can never assume that everyone in the group believes what we believe. Furthermore, many of our “beliefs” that we think are biblical or true, may be nuanced enough that they are different from what the Bible actually says. This happens far more than you would think!

So how can you respond to this situation as a leader?
1. Prioritize the following: the relationship with the group member, the group member’s experience of God and their knowledge of the Bible.

  • We want relationships in Faith Groups to be open and accessible and for people to feel safe to return. This is the highest priority. How we deal with the person’s experience of God and their knowledge of the Bible will directly impact this.
  • We want people to have opportunities to experience God in their lives. This is a high priority. Of course this is dependent on knowing the Bible, but we want people to experience what they read, not just know it.
  • We want everyone to discover the Bible’s truth as they grow. This is why we study the Bible and it is a high priority.

2. Focus your comments on maintaining the relationship.

  • Don’t debate the person in the group.
  • Don’t belittle them or contradict them in the group.
  • Ask them how they come by that belief or thought. In other words, ask about their story.
  • LISTEN to them as they share. Use the reflective listening exercises we trained you on in our host training. If you don’t remember them review the Host Training Manual (you can find it in the Leader’s Tools section of groupleaders18.wpengine.com).
  • If appropriate, ask what the group thinks about the subject. Only do this if it is relevant to your current discussion. If it is a tangent to the discussion then offer to talk to the person afterward or at another time.

3. Invite the person to experience and discover what the Bible actually says on the topic.

  • Offer to study it with them.
  • Invite the group to explore the topic together. It could be a good study for the whole group to experience.
  • Refer them to specific resources: Right Now Media, Faith Community Website, Faith Community Staff.
  • Pray with and for them as they learn.

4. Follow up to find out if they have questions, comments, new findings or confusion.

5. Explore together what you have learned about this topic from the discussion and study.

6. If you blow it… this happens.
We all speak without thinking at times. Don’t worry; there are ways to fix it. I recommend that if this happens, you call the person after the group meeting. Humble yourself and apologize. Seek to repair the relationship rather than win the argument. It is better for the person who doesn’t know what the Bible says to continue in the group and learn, than leave the group and never return.

I believe that if you focus on maintaining the relationship, offer an opportunity to experience what the Bible says and live by it you will be living out our vision for Spiritual Growth and Faith Community. You will be guiding that person deeper in their relationship with Christ, you will be showing them greater love and together you both will have taken one step closer to Christ.

Dorian Botsis

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