Here are some Bonhoeffer quotes and questions I wrote for our Growth Group (Small Group) leaders to discuss at BAC:
Reflecting on “Life Together” by Bonhoeffer
This wonderful short book is full of great theological reflections on what it means to be part of a Christian church gathered under the Word of God.
Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran pastor who suffered imprisonment and was martyred under the Nazi regime of WW2.
Our Growth Groups are a wonderful expression of ‘life together’ under the Word of God.
How reading and studying Scripture helps us forget ourselves:
‘Consecutive reading of biblical books forces everyone who wants to hear to put himself, or to allow himself to be found, where God has acted once and for all for the salvation of men. We become part of what once took place for our salvation. Forgetting and losing ourselves, we, too, pass through the Red Sea, through the desert, across the Jordan into the promised land. With Israel we fall into doubt and unbelief and through punishment and repentance experience again God’s help and faithfulness. All this is not mere reverie but holy, godly reality. We are torn out of our own existence and set down in the midst of the holy history of God on earth. ‘ p38.
1. Is your growth group a place where people can ‘forget themselves’ as they become engaged in the story of God and the lives of others?
The danger of Christian isolation:
‘In confession the break-through to community takes place. Sin demands to have a man by himself. It withdraws him from the community. The more isolated a person is, the more destructive will be the power of sin over him, and the more deeply he becomes involved in it, the more disastrous is his isolation. Sin wants to remain unknown. It shuns the light. In the darkness of the unexpressed it poisons the whole being of a person’, p88.
2. Is your group a place where a community welcomes people out of isolation and temptation?
On the loving nature of a ‘severe rebuke’:
‘Nothing can be more cruel than the tenderness that consigns another to his sin. Nothing can be more compassionate than the severe rebuke that calls a brother back from the path of sin. It is a ministry of mercy, an ultimate offer of genuine fellowship, when we allow nothing but God’s Word to stand between us, judging and succouring. Then it is not we who are judging; God alone judges, and God’s judgement is helpful and healing’, p84.
3. Is your Growth Group a safe place for people to be rebuked in love? How often does this happen?
How God uses difficult Christian fellowship to grow all of us:
‘A [Christian leader] should not complain about his congregation, certainly never to other people, but also not to God. A congregation has not been entrusted to him in order that he should become its accuser before God and men. When a person becomes alienated from a Christian community in which he has been placed and begins to raise complaints about it, he had better examine himself first to see whether the trouble is not due to his wish dream that should be shattered by God; and if this be the case, let him thank God for leading him into this predicament’, pp17-18.
4. Do you grumble about your group? Does your group grumble about others at BAC outside your group?
Exercise: In groups of 2-3 discuss one or more of the above questions for a few minutes.