Recently I attended an open-mic night at the home of Dr. Jody Armour. Dr. Armour hosted this event for a group of about 50 artists. The artists had been given a topic the previous Friday and had spent the week creating a spoken word, rap, poem or painting around the topic.
Each participant had an opportunity to present a piece to the group. There was a range of talent. Some spoke, some sang, there was a rap duet, and one girl painted a piece as others performed. Some of the pieces were jaw-dropping good, others painfully poor.
It was a sacred space, of sorts, as each artist bared his or her soul.
After each artist presented a piece, the group facilitator gave specific feedback; there were words of encouragement as well as critique.
The facilitator has earned respect in her field as an expert. She was rapper Tupac’s manager when he was alive.
These young artists respect her feedback and want to walk in her footsteps. She is in the business of disciple-making. She is multiplying herself, if you will, as well as her craft, bringing out the best and encouraging better in each unique individual.
The other participants were also involved in the formation of each other’s craft – group discipleship in its rawest form.
Words were spoken, life was given and rebuke even offered when it appeared an artist had not lived up to his or her full potential. There was no shame or shaming of any individual who took courage and stood up front.
A transformational community played out right in front of my eyes.
I left the room wishing I were an artist; wishing I too could be in the inner circle instead of on the outside as a curious onlooker. What they had – their inherent talents, as well as the community and freedom just to be and to offer input – I wanted!
It made me reflect on the Christ-centered community I am hopefully establishing in my ministry. As I multiply myself and as people see the Christ-centeredness of my discipleship relationships, do they leave me wishing to enter in and then, in turn, to share it with others?
Do people leave our times of discipleship thinking, “I want what they have”? Do we allow people the freedom to try and fail, and give grace and truth the way this group did? What steps do I need to take today to multiply myself and my discipleship community?