And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. (Heb. 10:24)
How do we spur one another on to love and good deeds? If a spur is the spiked wheel on the heel of a horse rider’s boot, then the rider must be very close to the horse for the act of spurring to matter at all. Given this context, it seems that the writer of Hebrews is suggesting that we must be in close proximity to those we are encouraging spiritually. I can try to spur someone on from a distance, but it will be about as effective as trying to get a horse to move by kicking my heels from fifty yards away. In order to spur someone on to love and good deeds, I must have the context of a close relationship.
Today I want you to become familiar with the definition of a band and why we keep the group same gender and so small.
A discipleship band is a group of three to five people who read together, pray together, and meet together to become the love of God for one another and the world.
Why Same Gender?
The band is designed to be three to five people of the same gender. While we are strong believers in gender equality, as well as in mixed-gender mentoring and leadership structures, we keep bands same gender for two basic reasons: under-sharing and oversharing.
Under-sharing: It will not surprise you to learn that there are subtle differences in the way males and females generally interpret relationships, struggles, joys, challenges, and emotions. In a mixed-gender group, it can feel isolating to find that fellow bandmates do not understand or relate to the nuances that gender-specific processing lend to an experience. Same-gender groups alleviate this barrier and allow for more honest sharing.
Oversharing: We all have areas of brokenness and weakness, and bandmates participate with God in one another’s healing journeys. In opening up to others and sharing more deeply, we are opening our hearts to them. This is a good thing, but it can also be a scary thing. And when we share our hearts across gender lines, it comes with added cautions. Deep sharing can lead to emotional bonds that sometimes trigger deeper attractions than might be inappropriate. The bottom line here is that by keeping the groups same gender we keep that risk to a minimum.
Why So Small?
This specification is more practical than it is relational. In the weekly band meeting, each person in the group shares for 15–20 minutes and then receives prayer from one of their bandmates. As the group grows, so does the time commitment. In addition, life can get very busy and it can be hard to find a consistent time each week to carve out even a full hour. Smaller bands mean shorter meetings and fewer schedules to juggle. Three people per band is the sweet spot, four can be great, and five is really the absolute max.
Father, help me today as I consider starting (or continuing) into a type of group that is different from what I am used to. I acknowledge to you today any fears or apprehensions I have about this (take a moment to reflect on what those are and offer them to God’s care). Help me become a person that loves others well, who encourages others to love and good deeds. Amen.
Consider sharing with your band any fears or apprehensions you have about banding.
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