The Giving Forgiveness 6-week experience changed lives incredibly at our church. I was blessed being able to lead this class, and I was blessed in the healing power of the material, personally, as well. It was the biggest "small group" we've ever had at the church (approx. 60 ladies consistently showed) for 7 weeks. We had unbelievers "rubbing shoulders" with believers and seasoned Christians guiding new Christians in a non-judgmental environment. The material encouraged warmth and acceptance, and I made it very clear that not everyone in the room had a relationship with Christ. As a result, the Christians were very sensitive to that and now friendships have been formed. At the end of the class I asked if anyone wanted to speak with me privately about how to have a relationship with Christ. Three women responded and I'm meeting with each of them over the next couple of weeks. I absolutely loved one lady's honesty in saying, "I'm just jumping into the class because of the challenge the pastor gave to "do something" and I'm scared to death!" Since this, she's attended our "Meet 'n' Greet" and admitted to being in the "exploring" stage, and she's bringing other unbelievers to church.
We heard from women regarding childhood molestation issues, husbands having affairs, and some things women couldn't even talk about. We also learned about and grew in the area of "seeking" forgiveness. About half of the women had never been in a small group before. As a result, they've experienced true community for the very first time. Many of the small groups are now staying together and doing another study, and one of our leaders will be leading another "Giving Forgiveness" class after Easter in her home. I'm beginning the Listening Prayer class after Mother's Day, and I am very excited about it. Your material is fantastic, real and so applicable for today. I have to admit that God brought many things to me during this class—things I had to work through and forgive. I feel so relieved to know that I've finally been able to work through the guilt and shame. The book just made us all go deeper in the process. It's a workbook I know I will go back to on occasion.
What I've noticed personally, since we've used the ASCENDING LEADERS materials, is that these women are attending church consistently now. They feel more like they're at home, where they know others and don't feel like they're the only ones with "issues." This is why we started this church—to reach men and women like these and teach them to build their lives on Christ's solid foundation, and together, grow to fuller devotion to Him!" ASCENDING LEADERS has been an incredible part of that mission, and it has helped close our "back door."
Thank you for allowing me to share my excitement with you! Please consider doing more modules in the 6-week format. Many in our church would not consider doing a 10 or 20 week class to begin with; however, the 6-week format seems manageable for beginners.