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Alan Danielson suggests guidelines for avoiding impropriety in your group meetings.

Craig Groeschel at LifeChurch.tv delivered a powerful message about adultery during a series called “5 Easy Steps to Wreck Your Life.”  Here’s the link for those of you who would like to see it. Anyway, it made me think about the sad stories I’ve encountered about small-group members having affairs with each other.

It doesn’t surprise me that people within small groups might find one another attractive. Openness, honesty, empathy and sensitivity are characteristics displayed in small-group settings, and these are attractive traits. It would be easy for someone to admire another person in their group exhibiting these traits and think, “I wish my spouse were more like so-and-so.”

Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to admire qualities in other people, but it can quickly become dangerous if you and the members of your small group do not have proper boundaries.

We must be cautious of legalism for sure, but boundaries are necessary for protection. At the outset, though, we should always keep in mind Scripture never tells us to fight sexual temptation but to flee it.

Run away from sexual sin! 1 Cor. 6:18 (NLT)

So if you find yourself physically or emotionally attracted to another person in your small group, do what 1 Corinthians 6:18 says: Run away! Find another group! It’s easier to find another small group than to find another spouse!

That being said, it is appropriate for groups to establish boundaries without becoming legalistic. Here are some boundaries I suggest every small group consider having in place:

To avoid emotional attraction:

  • No one in the group is ever alone with anyone of the opposite sex who is not their spouse.
  • No one privately confides in anyone of the opposite sex in the group who is not their spouse.
  • No one prays alone with anyone of the opposite sex in the group who is not their spouse.

To avoid physical attraction:

  • No one in the group dresses suggestively.
  • When hugging someone of the opposite sex in the group, members agree to give “shoulder hugs” only.
  • No one in the group talks openly about sexual preferences.

To avoid marital discord:

  • No one openly criticizes their spouse to others in the group.
  • No one brags openly about the characteristics of someone else’s spouse in the group.

Do you need to implement some of these boundaries? Do you need to run away? Do you have any additional boundaries to suggest? 

Alan Danielson Alan Danielson is the Senior Pastor of New Life Bible Church in Norman, Oklahoma. Previously he served as Central Team Leader for LifeGroups at LifeChurch.tv in Edmond, OK, where he led over a thousand small groups on LifeChurch’s thirteen campuses in six different states. He then founded 3Threat.net to help leaders master three essential leadership skills: vision-casting, creating strategy and fostering relationships. Alan is a popular conference speaker and consults regularly with ministries and leaders on topics relating to small groups and leadership. Learn more from Alan at 3Threat.net.

More from Alan Danielson or visit Alan at http://www.3Threat.net

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  • Lin Wadle

    I think all of the above are good advice and things we practice in leading our Divorce Care group. One great concern I have is how to speak to someone who, two months ago was in tears, hoping and paying for a miracle to reunite her with her ex-husband, and is now dating another man when she has had no time to heal and become a whole single person. I am also concerned about how confusing this might be with her young daughter.

  • Deacon Ron Aziere

    Bein the spirital advisor to our parish DS I find this information, helpful and healthy. In fact I would suggest that all facilitators be provided with the "To avoid" proposals in this article. Knowing in advance the pitfalls can surely prevent many from stumbling into the disasters which could occur when not properly given the warning signs that go with the journey of recovery. Thank you very much

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