Getting real with God

Today we are running a workshop focusing on people’s relationships with God and the church. The intent of the workshop is to encourage personal reflection, to get beyond “doing church” and to encourage thought about “getting real with God” and “getting real with each other.”

Background

There is a tendency in many churches for “the correct” answers and behaviours to be well understood. To encourage participants to get beyond “the correct answers”—enabling them to gain an understanding of exactly where they are—the first three sheets of the hand-outs were completed by the participant without showing anyone. The leader encouraged discussion about people’s insights without directly inquiring about people’s responses. Participants were supported in sharing exactly how much or how little about their responses as they chose.

Method

The hand-outs consist of four sheets of paper. Each sheet has a single question. Below the question is a wide range of possible responses, with room for participants to write in their own free responses.

Participants were asked to read the question, and circle all the answers that struck them as being consistent with their experience.

After circling answers, participants were then asked to number the top three responses.

Once participants had finished giving their answers, the leader then asked stimulus questions in order to encourage a discussion.

Questions

Sheet one—How do I feel toward God?

  • In looking through your answers, who felt like they were surprised by some answers that leaped out at you as being true? What would you like to share about that?
  • Sometimes, the answers we give about how we feel about God are very similar to how we feel about our parents. Who would give very similar answers to their feelings about their parents? Who would answer differently for their feelings about their parents? What would you say makes the difference?

Sheet two—How does God feel toward me?

  • If you compare the answers on sheet one with those you gave on sheet two, how similar or different are those answers?
  • What does it mean if God feels differently toward you than you do toward Him?

Sheet three—How do I feel in this church?

  • God invites us to extend the relationship we have with Him to others. How well are we doing this for you?
  • What can we all do to extend how God feels about us to everyone who walks into this room?
  • Many of the answers on this sheet are given by people who have left the church. Eighty percent of the reasons people leave the church have to do with the way people experience Christians. Many experience hypocrisy, judgmentalism, abuse of power and boredom. What do we need to do to ensure that people who walk through these doors experience the truth of God made alive in us?

Sheet four—Why do I attend church?

In completing the fourth sheet, I’d like to collect your answers for this last sheet only. Please circle all valid answers, and number the top three. Then I’d like you to put a square box around the ONE answer that answers the question: What could this church do to turn How you feel about God into the answers you’d like to give.

  • Why do you contribute to this church?
  • How would you like this church to help you?