Christ: The vulnerability of Jesus Christ on the cross created for us a new kind of relationship with God, and also with ourselves and each other. The freedom of authentic relationship is what Embrace facilitates. Members do not have to believe in Christ though to enter into an open and sincere community; Embrace is open.
Community: The Triune God is a community. God is in a covenant relationship with the Lord’s people. Community is part of our spiritual DNA. Communities are characterized by shared experiences, values, tragedies and celebrations, work, strengths and weaknesses. Communities are made up of people who understand they belong to each other.
Conversation: The life-blood of a community is conversation. Community starts in conversation. Embrace is not an educational program, a needs assessment, or a transfer of skills or resources. It is a conversation. It is a community-building conversation. Nobody is here to teach or learn, everyone is here to share and receive.
Community Confidentiality: What happens in Embrace stays in Embrace. Unless there is a question of danger, in that case, the facilitator should let someone know “I have to call an ambulance, child welfare services, etc., etc.”. Members may encourage each other that it might be beneficial to address something with someone outside of the gathering and even accompany each other in the process.
Courageous Openness: Members are encouraged to share as much or as little as they are comfortable doing so. They are encouraged to be open when openness is demonstrated well. Openness is demonstrated well when people share honestly and non-abusively and when vulnerability is met with compassion, kindness and confidentiality.
Consistency: The group should meet consistently. Even if it looks like only two to three people will meet, get together anyway. Consistency keeps it going and growing.
Commitment: Commit to the group. It may take time for the group to “warm up”. Keep contributing, the group will become a group. Commit to the process. Answer the questions as much or as little as you like, pass on one or two, but answer the questions. Commit to the value. This group can enhance your whole church by facilitating real fellowship. The buy-in of the leaders will be contagious.
Compassion: For the group to become a community, compassion is an essential ingredient. Encourage it.