Question and Answer

Sharing in a small group

Question:

A newcomer at church recently asked me, "How much do I need to share in a small group?" Can I really tell him to share everything knowing that doing so might not be in his best interest because of sinfulness of well-meaning people around him? He's new to the faith and sincere in asking this question.

Answer:

It's difficult to answer this question as the role of small groups is not addressed in the Westminster Standards or our Book of Church Order. My first piece of advice, then, is to take your question to the overseeing session. Why does your congregation have small groups? What is their role, and what level of transparency and accountability is expected of the participants? What are participants told to expect? If the session has not thought through these matters, now is a good time to start!

Speaking for myself, my initial advice to this man might be "Share nothing!" As you put it, can I really tell him to share everything knowing that doing so might not be in his best interest because of sinfulness of well-meaning people around him?

I believe matters of serious spiritual concern are best entrusted to trustworthy Christians. While any member of your congregation might indeed be trustworthy, one should determine who those people are before running the risk of tempting a weaker brother to sin by gossiping. At the same time, we already have a clearly identified body of trustworthy, spiritual men in the congregation: the elders! I always advise going to an elder unless one has already found and tested another reliable spiritual confidant. Moreover, elders have the wisdom to give sound Biblical advice which not all members of the congregation might have.


About Q&A

"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. At least one new question is posted each week, so there should always be something new here for you to read. (For those who would like to look at previous questions and answers, they will continue to be available as well.)

The questions come from individuals like yourself. If you have questions about biblical and theological matters, you are invited to send them by e-mail by using the "Pose a Question" link on the OPC home page or by clicking here.

The purpose of the OPC website's "Questions and Answers" is to respond to biblical and theological questions. Matters of church discipline, disputes, or debates go beyond the scope of our work. We recommend that you present your concerns in these areas to the appropriate judicatory. In most cases this will be to a local pastor, elder, or session. We do not want the website to replace personal involvement in, or commitment to, the local, visible church.

While we will respond to every serious questioner, we are not bound to give a substantive answer to every question, should we deem the question to be beyond the scope of our purpose or our own ability to answer.

You will receive an answer by email. Please be patient as many of our respondents are busy pastors. The response to your question may take up to two weeks. Some of the questions submitted will be chosen to be posted here, along with the corresponding answers.

The answers come from individual ministers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church expressing their own convictions and do not necessarily represent an "official" position of the Church, especially in areas where the Standards of the Church (the Scriptures and the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms) are silent.

Note that the "Questions and Answers" posted on the site have been edited—all personal references are removed, Scripture references may be added, and sometimes portions are expanded—to make the questions and answers more useful to a larger audience.

Return to Formatted Page