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We are all afraid of exposure. We don’t want that switch to get flicked and light to shine on all our mess. We much prefer to skulk around in dim light. After all, everything looks better in dim light. Any of you who have, perhaps in some past life, frequented clubs (you know who you are), know that there is a reason they keep the lights in those places low. It is so that nobody will notice how ordinary looking everybody actually is. Believe it or not, these are the same tired people trudging to work on Monday morning. Why are candlelight dinners so romantic? They are romantic because they allow us to imagine everything is more attractive than it really is—the food and, of course, ourselves.
Most of us spend our lives trying to search out the dimmest light. We want to be noticed, but not too clearly. We want to be thought of as better than we are. At work we try to hide our flaws to make people think we are better looking, smarter, more creative, more competent, more poised than we know in our hearts we actually are. There are whole courses on writing resumes to show ourselves in the best light. Of course, what the best light means is light dim enough not to shine on what we don’t want to be seen.
When there is the possibility that what we want to keep obscure might come to the light, we work hard. We do what it takes, out of fear of exposure (which is shame), to keep others in the dark about what we don’t want revealed of our inner reality. We create a false self, one better than we actually are. We then spend lots of energy managing our inward disorder to keep our orderly avatar (our impressive Facebook page self) front and center before the audience of the world. And like my day spent cleaning, keeping up this image is exhausting. We try to play that game in church, with brothers and sisters in Christ, and even with God.
The band meeting, a proven discipleship model for growing in love through the accountability of small, same-gender groups, was one of the defining characteristics of the Methodist movement started by John Wesley in the mid-1700s. In reflection on Wesley’s class meeting and band meeting structure, George Whitfield once said, “My Brother Wesley acted wisely, the souls that were awakened under his ministry he joined in class, and thus preserved the fruits of his labor. This I neglected, and my people are a rope of sand.”
In The Band Meeting, Kevin Watson and Scott Kisker give an overview of the richness of this early tradition and introduce a practical approach for growing toward an authentic, transformation-oriented small group experience.
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