What are Redemption Groups?
“Stuck, I am just stuck…”, “I’ve tried accountability groups, I’ve tried 12 step programs, I’ve tried…”, “my hurt and shame just weigh on me, I just want to feel clean…”, “I have done awful things and I know God forgives, but I can’t forgive myself…”, “I continue to get involved in bad relationships and I can’t figure out how to stop…”, “I am angry, angry even at the ones I want to love…”, “I want to care about my family, but I don’t know where to start; there is just too much in the past to overcome…”. Do you relate to any of these statements? Have these thoughts been on your mind recently? North Church offers Redemption Groups as a place to work through these issues.
Redemption Groups were conceived about 10 years ago as church leaders saw a proliferation of “recovery” groups for all kinds of trials and suffering, such as pornography, abuse, eating disorders, and after-effects of having an abortion. However, the various groups were not serving people well. The proliferation of issue-specific groups tended to reinforce an individual’s issue-based identity and made implementing a consistent Christ-centered approach to addressing trials and suffering difficult. After sharing their various experiences with these groups and considering what the bible had to say, the leadership concluded this: every one sins and every one suffers, in different ways, at different levels of severity and with differing consequences, but with a consistent need to be redeemed by Jesus and need to find their identity in Christ. At the root of all of our various sin, trials and suffering lies our need for God’s plan of redemption through Jesus’ death and resurrection. With this conviction, redemption groups were implemented using the Exodus story as the biblical pattern of God’s redemption for sin done against us and sin we have done to others.
God knew the hurt and suffering in our body in Albuquerque and, in 12 RG sessions over the past 8 years, we have seen angry men transformed, hurt women transformed, adulterers, pornography addicts, man-fearers transformed. If you have attended any of the Redemption Groups Celebrations, you have heard and seen what God has done.
A Redemption Group cycle begins with a Friday/Saturday weekend intensive and continues for 9 Fridays culminating in the Celebration. Each session involves music, teaching based on a topic from Exodus, and group time. During the weekend intensive, each member of the group – leaders and participants – tells their “story”. During the following weekly meetings, the Exodus topics provide the context for exploring elements of each participant’s story with the goal of illuminating areas where the gospel, God’s story of redemption, must shine. The group setting, 6-7 participants guided by 1-2 leaders with 1-2 apprentices, is intimate and challenging.
Redemption Groups were not conceived as “the” answer to the trials and suffering common to life, but they are a powerful tool God has used. There is certainly no guarantee that your issue will be “fixed” after participating in a Redemption Group cycle. But, God willing and through an individual’s open and vulnerable participation, the Holy Spirit will do an amazing renewal of the mind (Psalm 51:10, Romans 12:2, 2 Corinthians 4:16, Ephesians 4:23, Colossians 3:10). Thus, the goal of Redemption Groups is to have those involved, leaders and participants, see God’s goodness through Jesus so that our “afflictions are eclipsed by glory” and participants can re-engage and bring life to their community even through trials and suffering. In this sense, Redemption Groups have been compared to a temporary rest stop on the highway of community life.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Who are Redemptions Groups for?
Redemption Groups are targeted at those who are stuck in sin, stuck in the pain of sin done against them or struggling with other life trials. However, Redemption Groups can serve anyone who is willing to be vulnerable and willing to let God work in them through others. Those who aspire to be apprentices and leaders in the RG ministry must go through Redemption Group as a participant. We believe that Redemption Group participation is very valuable for Community Group leaders as well.
How do I become a Redemption Group leader?
Redemption Group leadership begins with a heart desire to see real change in the lives of those who are struggling. The leadership path includes going through a Redemption Group cycle as a participant. The leaders and apprentices then evaluate the participant on their ability to engage during group sessions, boldly but humbly speak God’s truth in an effective manner and ability to be open and vulnerable with their own life. Once some evidence of these qualities are confirmed, the individual is ready to serve as an apprentice for a Redemption Group cycle. Apprenticeship can then lead to becoming a leader.
What resources are available related to Redemption Groups?
Redemption Group sessions follow the book “Redemption” by Pastor Mike Wilkerson. “How People Change” by Timothy Land and Paul David Tripp, “Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands” by Paul David Tripp, and “Seeing With New Eyes” by David Powlison are excellent books providing solid foundations for Redemption Group leaders and apprentices.
Why do Redemption Groups keep people with all different kinds of problems together in groups?
Although manifested in different ways, we believe that underlying issues with various addictions, unforgiveness, bitterness, hatred are rooted in similar heart issues such as distorted image of self and God. As the layers are unpeeled below the outward issues, we tend to see similar heart issues that God wants to change. As one person struggling with pornography sees their issue is similar to someone who is a workaholic, change in the second person can influence the first.
How do I sign up for Redemption Groups?