Sharing With Other Families
It is wonderful to be able to share our faith, as a family, with other families and friends.
We have found, however, that it does not just "happen". While It is comparatively easy to get families coming to a group and enjoying each other's fellowship, our experience is that unless the families actually cross the "threshold" and share together and pray together in depth, groups usually seem to end up becoming enjoyable social gatherings and little else.
We have a list of eight steps to help you to facilitate a quality sharing and praying time with other families. Some of these steps are the same as in the family sharing time, but we are repeating them because there are some differences.
1) Welcome and shared meal/fellowship.
Try to make this a very special time. Make a point of welcoming new people (or casual visitors) to the group. It is special, especially for children, to sing happy birthday for anyone having birthdays.
2) Sharing of blessings.
The sharing of the blessings is a very significant thing to do, as it is developing gratitude towards God as people recognise just how much He has blessed them. One of the fathers should take the lead. It can be helpful if he leads the group in prayer, praying that this sharing time will be a great encouragement to everyone. He should lead, first sharing his blessing of the week, and then invite the next person. All can share, even children as young as two or three, as well as unbelievers. To avoid embarrassing anybody, it is good to remind people that they can pass if they so wish.
3) Give thanks in prayer for the blessing.
Invite anyone who wishes to pray short, one sentence, "thank you" type prayers, for the blessing that they have shared. (Remind folk that this is a "thank you" time, and not an "asking" time.)
4) The one leading then shares his Quiet Time as written down on his sheet.
Read the whole verse out. Then state what you believe the Lord has said to you. e.g. "I believe the Lord said to me that..." followed by what you have written down.
5) The leader then invites each person to share their Quiet Times one by one, as written down on their sheet.
The leader needs to be sensitive to the fact that this process can makes people feel very vulnerable. They will not write things down if they know that what they write will always have to be shared. It is important to nurture an atmosphere that still protects each person's privacy, and which gives them the option to "pass" if need be.
6) Pray together in response to what God has given each person.
It is very special when families pray together over what the Lord has spoken to them about. It is also very powerful if people in their prayers ask for the Lord's help and forgiveness for sin or failure in their lives. At this point emphasis that the first part of this prayer time is in response to what God has given them. People invariably find it much easier to pray "asking" type prayers.
7) Prayer can then shift to "asking" type prayers.
When appropriate, the one leading the sharing should invite people to pray "asking" type prayers. While these prayers can be slightly longer, it is important to pray one topic at a time. For example, don't pray, "Lord please heal Grandma," and then in the SAME prayer ask, "...and please help me with my schoolwork." Allow other family members to add to your prayer for Grandma. When you've "prayed through" one topic, move to the next.
8) The one leading brings the prayer time to a close.
He could do this by praying for God's blessing and protection to be on the whole group.