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, NIV)
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 instinctive beliefs,” and 3) a design of teaching and small groups that help us to integrate God’s truth.
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.)
Identifying Our False Instinctive 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 instinctive 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 instinctive 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 instinctive beliefs that are still operating in their lives. Here are some of the common false beliefs that affect us at the deep level of our identity:
• 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 beliefs).
In order for God’s truths to become our own instinctive beliefs, we need to feel and experience these truths at a heart level. Although we are not usually taught the importance of our imagination for spiritual growth, it is God’s intent that we use our imagination to help us see the world the way he does. 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.
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.
EXCERPT FROM Head to Heart: Experiencing the Father's Affection, by David Eckman, Ph.D. © 2017
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED