One of the best parts of a D-Group is the discussion around H.E.A.R. Journals. It’s powerful to hear everyone share what God showed them through His Word and see them respond to those insights with steps of obedience. As 3-5 people share their H.E.A.R. Journals each week, the different passages and perspectives highlight the many beautiful facets of God’s Word. When the H.E.A.R. method works, it often creates the most meaningful moments in our D-Group.
But, let’s be honest, we have all been there. You go to share H.E.A.R. Journals and discussion falls flat. One person didn’t do a H.E.A.R. Journal; another person goes off on some rabbit trail about his boss. The third member shares some incredibly detailed breakdown of why the dimensions of the tabernacle are so important and the last guy gives a cop-out application response like, “I just need to trust Jesus.”
Your conversation finishes and there were no sparks, no “AHA” moments, no confession and repentance, and no real steps of obedience. The H.E.A.R. Journal discussion comes and goes and you as the leader are left wondering where the issue is: with the process, with the people, or with you?
Take comfort in that everyone has had the experience above. Here is a simple framework that will help you facilitate better H.E.A.R. Journal discussion.
How To Have Better H.E.A.R. Journal Discussion
The success of the H.E.A.R. method hinges on the individual completing the process. Most poor H.E.A.R. Journal discussion is a product of a member not walking through all four letters. As a leader what you need to do is 1.) Identify which letter the person stopped and 2.) ask them the right question to keep them working through the process. Here are three examples that are most common.
We have all been there. You ask your group, “What H.E.A.R. Journal stood out to you and why?” Next thing you know, the person is talking about how awful their experience was at the DMV that week. And you want to respond by saying, “Where in the Bible does it talk about the frustrating long lines at the DMV?”
The Wanderer gives up on the H.E.A.R. method before it even gets started. They often don’t even have a verse(s) to reference, they just immediately begin talking about something personal. When this happens, say something like, “In a few moments, we are going to have time for accountability and prayer, but right now, will you share with us a H.E.A.R. Journal from a specific passage you read this week?” This question steers them back to Scripture and forces them to engage with the process.
The Scholar does the Highlight and Explain section of the process, but they never make it to application. The Scholar has an appreciation for historical context that most of us could use more of. The shadow-side of this personality is that they can often spend so much time talking about what things meant back then and they don’t give the same attention to what the passage means for us right now. The Scholar struggles needs to move from the past to the present and from information to application.
As the leader, when you encounter The Scholar, a great question to ask is, “Those are some great insights. What do you believe is the timeless principle from that passage that apply to believers today?” This question moves The Scholar to think about application, not just information.
One of the most frequent questions people have about the H.E.A.R. method is “What is the difference between Application and Response?” Your application is the timeless principle that applies to all believers. Your Response is your personal and specific expression of that principle. The Generalist is a great example of why both steps of this process are crucial.
The Generalist shares his Highlight and his Explanation, but he finishes his journal with a comment like this:
“I just need to trust God more.”
“I just need to not be prideful.”
“I just need to let God be the Lord of my life.”
These are comments that are vague and general. They could apply to anyone and reference nearly any passage. We want our members not to just say, “I need to trust God more,” but instead say, “I need to trust God more in this area of my life…” As the leader, push The Generalist to share a personal and specific application. A great question to ask is, “How can you make that application personal and specific?”
Whenever we can help our members complete the H.E.A.R. method, we will begin to see our discussion around God’s Word become richer and our accountability with one another become deeper.