Posts Tagged space

Transparent Space

By Paul Wilkinson

Recall that the discipleship spaces from large to small proceed as: public space, social space, personal space, transparent space, and divine space. As the contexts move from public to divine, generally, accountability increases. Thus, divine space and transparent space would more naturally generate accountability than public spaces. And it is for that reason that the transparent and divine spaces are so significant: they readily provide a natural context for introspection, sin confession, and accountability for righteous living among the group members. As Greg Ogden notes, “Transformation occurs when we grapple with the truth of God’s Word in the context of transparent relationships. It is a biblical axiom that the Holy Spirit will have free sway in our lives to the extent to which we open ourselves up to one another.”[i] Transparent spaces afford just such an opportunity.
Transparent spaces generally contain 2-4 people, but I do not think that 6 people would destroy the effectiveness of them. Absalom suggests that they should be used primarily for intimacy, openness, and impact.[ii] This truth is further supported by the research of Greg Ogden. He writes that “my discipling paradigm had . . . been one-on-one. In addition to this traditional approach I led a threesome called a triad and a discipleship group of ten. I was startled by the difference in dynamics. I have come to see groups of three or four as the optimum setting for making disciples.”[iii] Ogden believes that the shift from hierarchical to relational dynamics, the sense of groupness, and the praxis of discipling others in the group are reasons for the increased effectiveness of triads and quads.
The JourneyOn Strategy provides vehicles for achieving transparent spaces. First are Bible Reading Groups. Bible Reading Groups are groups of 2-6 people who are committed to meeting regularly to share life, read the Bible, and talk about its significance. The general meeting is the walking through a series of questions about how God has been working in our lives, about what the text demonstrates about God’s nature and our response, I will statements about who to share the discussed truth with and how to better follow it in our lives, and prayer together. A simple structure generates transparency and growth as the group progress.
Second, Transforming Relationships help with transparent spaces. The relationships that the discipleship team provides are Spiritual Friends, Spiritual Mentors, Spiritual Coaches, and Spiritual Directors. Find more information on those relationships here:
How then do we utilize the effectiveness of transparent space within our LIFE Groups? First, make your members aware of these other discipleship avenues: Bible Reading Groups and Transforming Relationships. Second, consider launching some Bible Reading Groups out of your LIFE Group. Third, incorporate some creative methods for traditional rituals like smaller prayer groups ( Begin to pray about how you might be able to utilize Transparent Space and Divine Space within your LIFE Group. You will more holistically disciple your group and reduce your workload as your groups begins to take on more leadership.
[i] Greg Ogden, Discipleship Essentials: A Guide to Building Your Life in Christ (Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Connect, 2007), 10.
[iii] Ogden, Discipleship Essentials, 10.

The Effect of Spaces on Discipleship

By Paul Wilkinson

The study of proxemics deals with how physical space and population density affect behavior. The idea is not foreign to church life in general and discipleship in particular: people act differently in different spaces. Think about someone needing to confess some personal sin. Do you think it more likely that they confess in the front of the sanctuary from the stage on a Sunday morning in front of a few thousand people, in front of 20 people in a LIFE group, or in a small group of 2-3 people? Clearly, one is more likely to be vulnerable in the smaller, more intimate setting. As leaders, we must be aware of these trends and provide spaces for our people to mature in their sanctification.
The Absalom’s with Dandelion Ministry cover this reality well. They suggest 5 spaces: Public (>100), Social (20-70), Personal (4-12), Transparent (2-4), and Divine (you and the Godhead).* Each space affords a different effect and efficiency for discipleship. As the numbers grow, we think more in terms of vision casting and group mission. As the numbers dwindle, we become more vulnerable and open with our own foibles; discipleship demands them all.
Jesus knew these realities. Consider the different spaces Jesus offered: Jesus fed and taught 5000 (Luke 9:10-17), He had a more intimate group of 70 (Luke 10:1-12), He had an even more intimate group of 12 (Luke 6:13-16, 9:1-6), He had an even even more intimate group of 3 (Luke 9:28-36), and Jesus spent time alone (Luke 6:12). Each of these groups afforded Jesus different discipleship opportunities: to show the awesome power and grace of God, to send out 70 to preach and teach, to teach 12 the intricacies of the Gospel and to carry forth the mission, and 3 on which to form the foundation and inaugurate the kingdom.
We will unpack how each of these spaces are utilized within the overall JourneyOn strategy for discipleship. For now, take some time this week to think through how you are incorporating these spaces into your own sanctification. Particularly, are you spending divine time on your own and are you enjoying intimate space with a, or as a, mentor/discipler? I pray that you are!