Use your imagination with me for a moment and picture a guys’ night (or ladies’ night) with your fellow Small Group members.
You are all out to dinner having a great time when the tone turns a bit somber and one of your group members asks, “Can I share something?” Those words can strike fear in the hearts of even the most seasoned Small Group leaders, especially when the next words are some way of confessing a struggle with sexual sin.
What do you do? How do you respond? What steps are next? Well, allow me to shed a bit of light.
1. Thank Them
In Ephesians 5:8-13 Paul discusses the conduct of those following Jesus. He tells us that after making Jesus Lord and Savior of your life you can now “discern what is pleasing to the Lord.” Clearly this friend is discerning their sin.
Paul also adds that “when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible.” This is where to start when you respond:
• Thank the person for being courageous to share their struggle with you and others by bringing it “into the light.”
• Reassure them that what they have just done has exposed their sin for what it really is in the light of the gospel and community.
Most people struggling with sexual sin are deluded by the belief that it is attractive and something worth wanting. Or maybe they think their secret sin isn’t hurting anyone. In confessing to you and your group members, the power and allure of that sin has just taken its first blow in being completely torn down now that it’s “in the light.”
2. Follow Up
Next, you will have to follow up to find out more info.
• What is the sin? How is it being expressed and fed?
• What consequences is it having in the person’s life? Who else is it affecting?
• What is their motivation for change?
These questions need to be asked patiently and without judgement. You may wait for a second conversation to ask these questions if the person is somewhat spent from the initial confession.
3. Establish Expectations
Another necessary thing is finding out what the person’s expectation is of you and the group.
Usually people have some kind of hope for response when they confess something like this. They are likely looking for some sort of accountability, but a good rule of thumb is that accountability should be driven by the person asking for it, not the other way around. Any framework for their accountability should be:
• Clearly stated
• Gospel-infused (restorative, focused on Christ)
• And done with wisdom and compassion
The goal of accountability should be to help the person see biblical truth in the moment of sexual temptation—not just be corrected afterward.
If all of these attributes are present, then accountability can be a great God-given deterrent from sin.
First Step Toward Freedom
None of the above steps are an exhaustive response to admission of sexual sin in Small Group, but they do provide some immediate triage care.
I would also encourage you as a Small Group Leader to take advantage of further resources to help this group member:
• Books and booklets are available in the Soul Care office
• For sexual sin, some time with a Soul Care counselor is very helpful
• We also provide some short-term, gender-specific, community-focused counseling groups dealing with sexual issues as well (for both men and ladies)
When someone confesses sexual sin to you and your group, that is cause for praising God! That is one step toward freedom and victory in Christ, and you get to play a small role. What an awesome opportunity to be used by God to accomplish His good will in another’s life!