For those of you who have begun The Way of Forgiveness, we want to offer a few words of encouragement and counsel. The topic of forgiveness and reconciliation is deep and challenging, perhaps one of the very greatest challenges in our Christian walk. You may have noticed that we urge that no small group BEGIN their experience of Companions in Christ with this resource. A group needs to build a certain personal familiarity and trust in their relationships in order to give themselves fully to a subject as tender and vulnerable as forgiveness, whether participants are seeking to forgive or to be forgiven.
If you have somehow missed this message and started a new group with The Way of Forgiveness, please be aware that your participants may resist going very deep with the subject matter. They may need time to get to know one another and to develop trust, including an absolute trust in confidentiality within the group. You may suggest that the group back off the topic for a few weeks and spend time sharing their spiritual life journeys with each other. This is one of the essential components of Part I in the Companions in Christ 28-week resource. Of course, it would be even better if your group decided to begin with the 28-week experience and lay a firm foundation for any of the Companions sequels. Even going through Part I of the foundational resource would be a great help in preparing to attempt a topic like forgiveness.
For groups who have gone through Companions in Christ and are now embarked on The Way of Forgiveness, be aware that even a well-established small group can struggle with the issues and feelings this topic raises. Be patient and offer encouragement to move forward trusting God’s guidance. Recognize that someone may need to drop out of the group and that you may need a private conversation with this participant, inviting him/her to pray about it. It may be precisely God’s good timing for a person to deal with an issue of forgiveness they do not wish to face.