A small group discipleship program

Key Elements of Head to Heart...

Surely you heard of [Christ] and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught with regard to your former way of life to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:21-24)

Head to Heart helps you take off your old self and put on your new self by a process that helps to get God’s truth from your head to where it needs to go, to the inner parts of your heart. Rather than focus solely on “learning,” this class provides a discipleship process that helps to put truth in your heart. The process has three key elements: 1) focused biblical teaching, 2) identifying our “false pictures & beliefs,” and 3) a design of teaching and small groups that help us to integrate God’s truth.

1. Focused Biblical Teaching

A problem for many Christians is that they are so inundated with information that it is overwhelming, and God’s truths are not organized in their minds in a way that focuses the heart on what is truly important. In this class we address this problem through the “hierarchy of the heart” that explores the biblical pattern for integrating the truth so that it grows within. The truths that need to be carefully practiced are placed front and center in a prioritized order. The goal is to have the most important information truly absorbed at an instinctual level. The hierarchy begins by focusing on God the Father, his nature and character, and then proceeds to what he has done for us. (For a thorough discussion of the Hierarchy of the Heart, see Knowing the Heart of the Father, p. 145-233.)

2. Identifying Our False Pictures & Beliefs

One of the fundamental obstacles to integrating God’s truth at a heart level is that we still have, even as believers, false instinctive beliefs operating in our lives. We acquired these false pictures & beliefs from our fallen world, our culture, and our families. Most of them were already well-entrenched by the time we became adults, and we likely are unaware of some of these false beliefs because they are so “normal” to us. These beliefs operate at a deep and powerful level, because strong emotions are attached to them. Under stress we are especially likely to act according to these instinctive beliefs.

These false pictures & beliefs wage a powerful underground guerilla war against successfully integrating God’s truth. Therefore, a key part of the Head-to-Heart process is to help each individual uncover the false pictures & beliefs that are still operating in their lives. Here are some of the common false pictures & beliefs that affect us at the deep level of our identity:

-I am what I do
-I must meet certain standards to feel good about myself
-I must be accepted (approved) by others to accept myself
-Those who fail are unworthy of love and acceptance
-I am what I am, so I cannot change
-I am my physical appearance
-Who I am is a result of choices by others
-I am what I have done, or my performance defines me

A powerful approach for identifying our false beliefs is to understand that our emotions and behavior can be traced back to our actual beliefs (these are usually, for believers, a mixture of God’s truth and false instinctive pictures & beliefs).

In order for God’s truths to become our own instinctive pictures & beliefs, we need to feel and experience these truths at a heart level. It is God’s intent that we see the world the way he does by disregarding the distortions caused by the Fall, our culture and family of origin that impact the way we see. Integrating God’s truth into our hearts requires that we use our imagination to picture ourselves in the truths of the Bible. Accordingly the teaching in Head-to-Heart includes a variety of illustrations and exercises to help us picture God’s truth.

3. Small Group Component

In addition, God has designed us so that we need healthy connection with other people to grow spiritually, emotionally, and relationally. When we process deeply with others in a safe environment, we discover more about ourselves, God, and our relationships. The very act of speaking out loud the truth we are discovering helps us to plant it more deeply within. Thus Head-to-Heart seeks to create a safe small group environment where we help each other explore how the teaching applies to our lives. We ask each participant to commit to a set of Group Expectations that are designed to create a safe environment where we can be honest and open about what we really think, feel, and experience in our lives. Each gender-specific small group has two co-facilitators, and the facilitators’ main role is to model and help the group practice these Expectations.

Overview of the Head to Heart Course

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Hierarchy of the Heart (Session 1, 22)
In this initial meeting an overview of Head to Heart will be given, along with the class Head to Heart workbook and reading materials. The Group Expectations will be explained and each participant asked to commit to these Expectations in order to provide a safe small group environment where people can deeply process God’s truth and the reality of their own lives.

Identifying Our False Pictures & Beliefs (Sessions 2-4). 
We must recognize that we have inherited “Adam’s Eyes” so that we see God as untrustworthy, ourselves and others with hate, and this world as dangerous and we are unprotected from its dangers. In addition to seeing everything through “Adam’s Eyes," our cultural background and family experience have created other unhealthy ways of seeing God, ourselves, and the world. To have a correct view of God we must understand how the three family backgrounds, healthy, confused or performance based, and dysfunctional control how we see God, the world, ourselves and others. Our false views of nearly everything resist establishing the Hierarchy of the Heart- a difficult challenge to overcome. Only God’s power and adoption into God the Father’s Trinitarian Family and seeing everything through his eyes is sufficient for the challenge.

The New Family (Sessions 5-11). 
Every second our family, our culture and our inheritance from Adam surround us and we breathe in their influence. Having the Father as our focus seems impossible. God however is going to take what has enslaved us, the family, and use the same institution to deliver us! He will take us out of Adam’s family as it expresses itself in the culture and our own particular family and put us in the Trinitarian Family, God the Father’s Family. In doing this, he will show us a new way of seeing everything through his eyes.

Your Identity (Sessions 12-13). 
We must begin to see ourselves the way our Father sees us. In the past, how we saw ourselves was determined by "Adam’s eyes." Now as we look at ourselves, we must recognize how pivotal our identity is. We are to live our lives out of our vital union with Christ. We must enter into how the Father sees us, as joined to his Son: not only joined to his Son, but joined to his suffering, death, and resurrection. In addition, we are given as an ever present gift, the same quality of relationship Christ has to God.

Understanding Your Emotions (Sessions 14-16). 
Healthy emotions are the result of a healthy relationship to the Trinity. We must learn to walk by the Spirit so as to experience the life and emotions of Christ within. The Spirit of God has been given to us to change our inner life and make us a spiritual influence to those about us. As we share the pain of our life with God the Father, we discover his comfort and we avoid being trapped into unhealthy and addictive behaviors.

Healthy Relationships (Sessions 17-21).
Our ways of seeing reality are changing, and our emotions are transitioning from chaos to the calm of the Fruit of the Spirit. We are learning to share our hearts with God the Father so that our inner life experiences transformation. We are participating in heavenly life. Now we can take what we are learning and experiencing and apply it to communication within our families and with others. We will see how to create an atmosphere of emotional understanding, to speak the truth in love, to be encouraging, to be compassionate, and to use anger as an effective relational tool and not as a weapon. We are also to participate in the Family Business, the sharing of the Gospel and the Mission of the Church.

Head to Heart Celebration (Session 22).
As one grows in an earthly family we have discovered that heavenly growth in God’s Family is similar. This session is designed to appreciate and encourage one another.

EXCERPT FROM Head to Heart:  Experiencing the Father's Affection, by David Eckman, Ph.D. © 2017. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

To order the Head to Heart Promo Book which contains information on Head to Heart as well as the first three sessions of Head to Heart and links to the videos that accompany them, click here.