Group Facilitating and Table Leading
Basic information from experience: To begin with, after working the12-Step Program of Alcoholics for Christ for twenty years, I have discovered several important issues. I can honestly say that today these Steps are more exciting to me than ever. And they have caused me to "come into deeper recovery" than I'd ever knew could be possible. I love the Tables. I need the Tables. Therefore, I go to the Tables with a sincere need for more healing in my life, more change, more God. I do not go as a teacher, with a prepared lesson in hand, to teach those at the tables. Instead, I go as "One beggar telling another, where to get the Bread (of Life)." and, needing the Bread, myself.
As I look at this program and gain a better understanding of it, I find that the 12-Steps are, foundationally Steps of Reconciliation. God has reconciled us to Himself through Christ Jesus, and has given us a ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18). How does this work? We realize that this ministry is a very personal one, and that God gives us "a personal testimony of reconciliation" to Him. By this we are convinced, encouraged, and strengthened to become involved in this ministry. In other words, "If a person thinks this is just a good program for me to take to those poor miserable suffering alcoholics out there, and he doesn't see his own personal needs in this program." Then "They'll be sorely disappointed," Because, "As people come to this program, they'll know if you're working it or not, and whether you believe in it enough to apply it to your own life!"
As a person who is very much interested and involved in this area called "Recovery," I have had the opportunity over many years to observe all the different programs and methodologies at work. And seeing that so many of these treatments do not have the desired effect of changing lives, it caused me to look even deeper into this issue. Being an alcoholic, with many of the addict's dysfunctional character flaws, I came to realize that I am a very isolated person with most of my relationships revolving around alcohol. Then, a new and exciting realization came to me as I was meditating on what the Christ-centered 12-Step Program does, and how it works. I began to understand, that; there are three basic relationships that a person will have in this world (Matthew 22:37-39):
The Christ-centered Steps systematically work on reconciling the three relationships that would cause a person to come into a place of wholeness and balance. It is all through the Grace of God, because He has reconciled us to Himself, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. Simply put, that's what the program means to me. There's " Something Wonderful" that happens when a table is set up, then the guys come and sit down - and as they begin talking and sharing their intimacy- "The walls of isolationism begin cracking, then breaking, and finally crumbling." As they share God's Word, they are breaking down the "Walls "and as they pray for one another, more walls come tumbling down. And when we are stripped of our walls of phoniness, pride, and aloofness, and standing there in the nakedness of our character, we are truly humbled before God and man. It is then that the tender mercy and grace of God floods over us, washing and filling us with joy unspeakable. We are broken! We are contrite! We are loved! I truly believe that if people did nothing but these things, then everyone who came to the tables would share in "Joy of the Lord" and receive "strength for tomorrow." I have come to believe that the "Power" and the "Core" of addiction is I-S-O-L-A-T-I-O-N. In other words, if you have a (binding) relationship with alcohol (or drugs), it is impossible to have an intimate relationship with God (serve two masters. Matthew 6:24), or a meaningful relationship with other people (double minded-James 1:8).
Again, I repeat, that anyone interested in taking this program into the prisons / jails, has got to first of all, take it into their own lives and work the program. Take ownership, and you disarm Satan. Once you understand that this program works for you, and also for others, then you won't be under a great deal of stress to either; add to the program, prop it up, or try to make it work. It does it all by itself (well, really it's God)! All you have to do is be honest and open, and this will set the tone for the table.
Fundamentally, it's letting the power of God and the togetherness of the community do their work in the lives of those who come to the tables seeking. Many times, as a Table Leader, I have experienced some frustration, when someone comes to the tables, and they won't talk (open up). However, as they sit there for weeks, and they observe things, I realize they are going through a change (of God working in them). And then, sure enough, unexpectedly, they break wide open and out comes the flood. If this takes time, be not concerned, let God do His work.
Another problem of sorts, are people who try to dominate the tables, and want to "fix" everyone. What we do in this type of situation is STOP them and tell them we are not here to "fix" each other, but to work on our OWN issues. We as facilitators allow very little cross talk (many conversations), and being restrictive of much dialog keeps the table sharing progressing along.
An important item to remember, is when working Steps 2 / 3, is to make an invitation to those who have never asked Jesus to come into their hearts, and be their personal Savior. When one volunteers to accept Jesus as their Savior, it is very appropriate to have the whole group at the table to repeat the Sinner's Prayer along with the person.
Another suggestion is to have prayer sheets to pass out at the table, and as we go around sharing, to ask people to write down the names of those sharing on the list. Then, after they take their turn sharing, ask for a brief prayer request. This will get them to pray for each other through the coming week, which will serve as bonding agent.
Setting Up and Maintaining Order at the Tables
© 1977-2001 Alcoholics
for Christ®, All Rights Reserved
This site was created by EZROM®