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(159) Topical_Bands of Brothers and Sisters

Notes & Transcripts

Topical: Bands of Brothers and Sisters

June 12, 2011



·         Cecil 10/11/09


Intro/Communication card:

·         Camping

·         Baptism at Camping

·         Summer Sunday School – a gift to the teachers.


Scripture reading: A reading Proverbs about friendship

NIV Proverbs 12:26 A righteous man is cautious in friendship, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.

Proverbs 16:28 A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.

Proverbs 18:24   24 A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Proverbs 27:6 Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.

Proverbs 27:9   9 Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one's friend springs from his earnest counsel.

And now for something completely different

I recently read another pastor who said that summers are great for doing all sorts of things you can’t get away with during the rest of the year, doing sermons that are out of the norm.

I thought “What would I like to do if I didn’t have to preach a normal sermon?” I’d want to offer to you one of the most important things in my life, my guys group.

Eight years ago this summer, several guys (including Cecil, Dave, Brian, and myself) decided we wanted to meet together to help each other grow.

We have been through a lot together – career changes, children divorce and then to remarriage, near divorce. We’ve lost guys and gained new ones.

As I’ve said before, if it weren’t for these guys, I wouldn’t be your pastor, and if I were I’d be a very unhealthy one. I am a better man, husband, father, and friend because of them. They even got a spot on my tattoo.

I want you to hear from one of them: [Mike R. testimony]

Share the love

Almost three years ago, our group decided that we wanted to share what we had, so we invited 4-5 guys to join us for two months, watch, then start their own.

From that two more groups formed, and are still going strong. While we were not the only influence, it was really encouraging last week to talk to some guys, one in particular say that those meetings changed his life.

Are you starting to get jealous? I hope so.

Q   Do you want a place where you are accepted, no matter what?

Q   A place that you can share your challenges, triumphs, and be supported and encouraged? (cf. Romans 12:15)

Q   A place that would stick with you through moral failure and pull you out?

Q   A place where God can speak through you to encourage and support others?

The good news is that you can have it. The bad news is that it takes work. Nothing worthwhile is easy.

Go and do likewise

So here is what I want to do today: Try to encourage more of these groups to start. To be clear, these are not part of The Gathering. They are completely independent from the church. The only influence we have is that of friends with friends.

·         But on the other hand, these groups I think are one of the most important contributors to the health of this church.

These groups aren’t magic – they don’t magically work sometimes and not others. They aren’t rocket science either.

Last week I got together with several folks who have been in both successful and unsuccessful groups, and we basically boiled it down to four key principles.

·         The specifics will change, for instance, there are massive differences between how men and women relate.

Same gender

BTW: These groups must be same gender. You can be diverse in many ways, but not gender. Non-negotiable, won’t work, I will disavow any influence or connection with you.

·         It is the specifically the fact that it is the same gender that gives it its value.

Our culture has forgotten the value of same gender friendships (especially among men) and it is just starting to regain it.

So here are the four key principles (and they are all “c’s”!):

1. Commitment

The most important part of these groups is being committed to grow. Our group says we have only two rules: We are here to grow and what is said at the table stays at the table.

These aren’t accountability groups; that’s being accountable to not look at porn or have too many shoes, which is great. But these are about a commitment to grow; to become better men or women, spouses, parents, friends, and professionals.

·         We call them mutual mentoring groups because we are mentoring each other – there is no leader, we are helping each other.

If you have this personal commitment, which no one can do for you, facilitating it is very simple. You don’t need any complicated curriculum on sale for the low price of $19.99.

·         Our group just takes turns sharing what is going on in our lives and where we are trying to grow.

Some groups have a little more structure: One shares the best and worst part of their week. Another asks these questions:

Since we've met last, in what ways have you...

1.  ...pursued God?

2.  ...pursued your spouse?

3.  ...pursued your children?

4.  Then customized question, based on that persons’ situation.

Then we respond, maybe giving sympathy or comfort, or advice or suggestions. In all this our goal is to help them grow.

Proverbs 27:9 Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one's friend springs from his earnest counsel.

·         Sometimes that means asking probing questions.

·         Sometimes that means rebuking or confronting.

Proverbs 27:6 Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.

Confronting is an interesting thing. It varies so much from group to group and person to person. Some people respond well to it and others don’t.

[testimony from a Alisah about how they share vs. confront and how it has helped them]

2. Confidentiality

I remember the first time my group met. I came with two sets of things to share: safe things and real things. When I saw how open the other guys were being I went with the real one, and we have been completely transparent with each other ever since.

This is absolutely vital – we can’t help you grow if the real you doesn’t show up. You need to be free to share your joys and failures, your hopes and fears.

·         This freedom is the #1 thing I love about these groups.

This is not an easy thing to do, we are so trained to hide and protect, to not let the real us shine through.

·         This is why confidentiality is vital, hence it is one of our two rules.

Proverbs 16:28 A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.

This allows the groups to be a place where you can vent to people who will hold you accountable and not judge, it allows you to be to be raw and unprotected.

·         You can’t be unprotected if you worry about anything being repeated.

When you think about it, most people have to pay a counselor a lot of money for that.

That to say, for these groups to really work, you need to know that what you say isn’t going anywhere.

·         This includes not sharing things with your spouse; these folks are building trust with you, not your spouse.

Q   Do you think this sort of trust is built overnight?

This sort of honesty takes time to develop, because everyone wants to know that they will still be accepted.

Which leads to the next principle:

3. Consistency

The number one reason these groups fail isn’t a breach of confidence, it’s a lack of consistency. Your group has to be a very high priority.

·         In the past 8 years, I have missed it less than 10 times.

Why is consistency so important? Because groups take a while to gel and life change does not happen overnight.

·         Though it was always valuable, it took us 2-3 years to hit our stride (partially because we didn’t have any models).

Simply put, it you are not willing to commit yourself to consistency, don’t even bother. You can have all these good intentions, but it will not work, end of story.

·         When people skip, they miss what is happening in each other lives, they feel disconnected, and the get out of the routine.

When I created my Starbucks schedule, I made sure I was off in time for my and Marilyn’s groups.

Spousal support

Speaking of which, one of the most important ingredients for consistency is having your spouse onboard. It is a sacrifice for them, no doubt. But say to them right now “It will be worth it.”

[Michel Jevon’s testimony: The effect upon Cecil.]

Here are some practical considerations:

How often?

It may vary, but in my mind, every other week is ideal. Once a week is too often and you ended of missing several. Once a month is too far apart and you lack connection.

·         Every other week has a great consistency to it – either you are meeting this week or next.

Plus this creates an easy routine for your spouse’s group. If you ask if we’re busy on Wednesday, the answer is always “yes.”

Location, location, location

One key element of developing constancy is choosing your location well. It really helps to have a consistent location. When you begin, everything is working against you, and playing phone tag can be enough to sink it.

·         But the most important thing is to find a place you enjoy and where you are comfortable.

I think that enjoying it is vital. Initially, we had breakfast together, but then started meeting at the Porterhouse for the up until recently.

The sheer enjoyment of getting together with “the guys” for a beer helped keep us create the routine. Over time, that become less important, as we began to enjoy the group for its own sake.


The final element is chemistry, there needs to be some. This doesn’t mean that every needs to be best buds, or that you need to have everything in common.

·         Diversity adds to the group – we have variety of professions, churches, relational statuses, ages, and interests.

·         I am typically the odd man out in small talk, but that’s okay.

You need to enjoy hanging out with them as a group. If there is anyone in the group you can’t stand, you won’t want to come.

·         Specifically “in a group,” you don’t have to be friends with everyone, but the group needs to be enjoyable. 


Calling it chemistry isn’t quite true, most of the time you can’t stand someone it isn’t chemistry but basic relational health. Lack of “chemistry” is frequently caused by someone:

·         Consistently and selfishly bringing the conversation back to themselves.

·         Refusing to open up.

·         Being unsympathetic and uncaring.

·         Being inflexible, their way or the highway.

·         Being hyper-spiritual.

·         Being stingy.

If I just described you, you will have a hard time ever being part of the group. In the words of the Demotivational Poster:

·         “The only consistent feature of all of your dissatisfying relationships is you.”

But I don’t just want to leave you hopeless. These groups can be the best place to grow past all of these things; I speak from personal experience.

·         The trick is being honest about your failings, willing to be confronted by the painful truth, and willing to grow.

But a good group becomes a place where you are accepted in spite of your quirks. Humility about them is the key – God is not the only one who opposes the proud!

Bumps in the road

Let me add: Don’t expect this process of gelling together as a group to be easy or painless. We’ve had three people leave our group, only one for a good reason (to start his own).

People change groups because of chemistry; you may start with a group and decide it doesn’t fit. That’s okay, just make sure you aren’t running away.

Starting your own

As far as I can tell, these four principles are non-negotiable, but after that, there can be great variety in how these groups form and look.

Some pray at the end, some don’t have a formal prayer time. Some drink, some are teetotalers. Some meet in the mornings, some in the evenings.

·         I look forward to seeing how you do it your way

Here is the process I would suggest:

1. Decide to do it (and willing to stick to it) and let us help by marking it on the Communication Card.

2. Find one or two other people you enjoy talking to and ask them what they think about this.

·         Look at those you already feel a connection to, perhaps from your community group or the ladies retreat.

How many people? The group size is also an important dynamic. My observation is 4-5 is ideal, and that 6 is an absolute max. Over that it becomes a meeting. Three is can be a little awkward. 

3. Discuss some other possible people (same gender).

4. Meet once to discuss the idea; make the meeting as fun as possible, yet with a purpose.

·         These groups are egalitarian, no leaders.

However, different people play different roles, especially at the beginning. Because I am Mr. Outlook, I sent out the reminders. Cecil was a driving force when things stagnated.

5. Do it, and be consistent.


I would be thrilled to see everyone adult in this church in a mutual mentoring group, but I know it won’t happen and the biggest reason is that you won’t want to do the work.

There is nothing here that is impossible, but it is work: Altering your weekly schedule, letting people into your life, being forced out of your comfort zone.

But is it also a lot of fun, I would not trade my group for anything in the world.

·         PPT: Please text Janna, service is almost over: 333-4505

Q & A

Communication Card/Application

·         I am currently in a mutual mentoring group

·         I want to be part of a mutual mentoring group

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