Saturday, April 19, 2008

WATCH Prayer

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The Small Group Process follows the acrostic WATCH

W-WELCOME God and each other
A-ATTEND to God and each other
T-TELL God and each other your story
C-CALL upon God for help
H-HEAR God and one another
We will examine Welcome God and One Another Today

W- Welcome one another and Welcome the Lord. Begin each gathering with a time of warm greetings. This sets the stage for trust and openness to God and each other.

Warmth, gentle caring and respect for every person is essential to group dialogue and to the development of a "safe place" to experiment with prayer.
The Welcome may include refreshments, a time of "logging in" or other means of establishing an environment where members of the family feel at home. Faith, hope and love that bring healing.

The Welcoming process includes a time of acknowledging God's presence and inviting Him to lead. God is omnipresent so He is always with us. Jesus made one of the most dramatic statements ever when He said, “I will send you the Counselor to be with you and in you”. John 14. In the act of welcoming we acknowledge the words of Jesus. It establishes our intent to meet in His name and for His purposes.

Welcoming God can be done through scripture, songs, praises, or specific requests and thanksgiving for His immanent presence.

Instead of spending time in Welcoming the Lord some begin by asking for "prayer requests." We suggest that this be delayed until later when the group has had time to develop a sense of God's immanence and His guidance. The group facilitator may wish to read a short overview of the WATCH principles to inform and guide newcomers and remind veterans of the "normal" group processes.
The WATCH acrostic can be used for that purpose.Most groups go through four stages of normal development each time they meet. Whenever new people are present, it is especially important for leaders to be sensitive to the individual member needs during these phases.

Forming occurs as members or guests silently ask: " How do I fit into this group? Will I be accepted? What if I make a mistake or embarrass myself? The key to successfully moving through this stage is to warmly welcome and accept every person. It is also important to explain the roles and goals of the group. St. Paul wrote to Corinth about this issue in chapter 14 of the first letter. He told them to avoid public behavior that could confuse outsiders or non-believers.
In a small group committed to a process of give and take dialogue, we can more easily tune in to these concerns and be able to successfully navigate the anxious waters of fearful people.
Storming occurs when members' anxieties about who is in control come out in the group. They may erupt as theological or biblical debates but are usually more about emotional anxiety than spiritual truth. Stormers are asking, "Who is in charge here and why?"
A gentle, caring, warmly accepting peaceful group will weather the storm and go on to the perform stage.
Performing occurs when the anxieties of belonging and control are settled. All cylinders are firing and the group is able to work together as one unified whole. A gathering becomes a community ready and able to dialogue with each other and the Lord.
Reforming When a group comes to the end, it must reform. No two group meetings are the same so there is a symbolic "death and resurrection" at the completion of each meeting. This calls for acknowledgement and celebration.

However, when a group finishes a cycle of life and comes to an end as a covenant community, it is time for reflection and a "celebration of the resurrection". Properly done these ceremonies are extremely healthy for the individuals and for the group.
The process and attitude of Welcoming is important throughout all four stages of group development. Warmly inviting God and each other is being a good host and promotes trust, communication and bold experimentation with prayer.
Call me if you would like to have training on developing a new and more effective way of doing small groups.
Gary Sweeten


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Gary Sweeten said...

Blessings to you. I visited your blog but cannot read Portugese or Spanish very well.

I am in the midst of writing a serise on Dialogue Prayer to assist folks in encountering God and others to build deeper relationships.

Many blessings and keep up the good work.