11.19.17 - Small Group Discussion

Identity - What is My Purpose?

Main Point: Your core identity determines where you belong, not the other way around.

  • What’s one idea from the message that stood out to you? Why do you think it grabbed you?
     
  • Has there been a time in your life when you struggled to understand life’s meaning and/or your purpose?
     
  • What are some ways in your past that you have tried, but failed, to make sense of life’s purpose?

Read: 2 Corinthians 5:11-21

  • Paul wrote that he “stopped evaluating others from a human point of view.” What are some ways that we evaluate others from a human point of view?
     
  • Paul describes someone who has become a Christian as “a new creation” in verse 17. How does that affect how we view ourselves? How does it affect the way we should view others?
     
  • God reconciled the world to himself through Jesus. Jesus uses you and I to reconcile the world to God, too. God has given us “this wonderful message of reconciliation.” What are some of the ways that we communicate that message?
     
  • Paul writes that we are “Christ’s ambassadors”? An ambassador does not speak from himself or herself. How should your speech reflect that?
     
  • An ambassador represents the interests of his or her sovereign. How should your actions reflect that?
     
  • What are some practical ways you can act as a faithful ambassador in your neighborhood? In your workplace? In your school?

Prayer: Pray for opportunities to engage in community and to bring others along

Posted on November 19, 2017 .

11.12.17 - Small Group Discussion

Identity - Where Do I Fit In? 

Main Point: Your core identity determines where you belong, not the other way around.

  • What’s one idea from the message that stood out to you? Why do you think it grabbed you?
     
  • What are some groups that you belong to, or belonged to previously?
     
  • Why did you join those groups?
     
  • Where or when have you struggled to fit in?
     
  • What is the impact for you of feeling like you belong? What is the impact of feeling like you don’t belong?

Read: Genesis 1:26-27, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, and Matthew 12:46-50.

  • Why do you think our faith has become so individualistic? What damage or loss is there where our faith is focused on me instead of we?
     
  • According to the Ecclesiastes passage, what are some of the benefits of community?
     
  • Why do you think churches often times follow the formula of belief + behavior = belonging? What damage is done by following this formula?
     
  • How can we shift our mindset to allow people to feel that they belong while they figure out what they believe?
     
  • The Matthew passage states that we are a part of Jesus’s family, meaning that we have a place to belong because of our identity. Do you live in such a way that your identity determines where you belong, or do you live in a way where the group that you feel like you belong in determines your identity? How so?

Prayer: Pray for opportunities to engage in community and to bring others along with you.

Posted on November 12, 2017 .

11.05.17 - Small Group Discussion

Identity - Who Am I?

Main Point: The identity that matters most is the one you will have the longest.

  • What’s one idea from the message that stood out to you? Why do you think it grabbed you?
     
  • What are some of your identities? Of those, which one is your favorite?
     
  • How can our different identities be helpful? How can they be harmful?
     
  • Have you experienced any challenges from having your identities clash with one another?

Read: Genesis 1:27.

  • We were created in God’s image. What does that mean?
     
  • God saw that it was not good for man to be alone. What are the benefits of living in a community? Have you ever had particularly good times due to community, or likewise, had particularly hard times due to not being in community?
     
  • We were created as male and female, so we have differences. How is it beneficial being different, and how can it be a challenge?
     
  • Sin is, essentially, acting in a way that does not properly represent our identity as a child of God. How does this impact your view of what sin is?
     
  • Do you believe that you are a child of God? Why or why not?
     
  • Do you believe that everyone else has the chance to accept their true identity as a child of God? Does your life reflect this belief?

Prayer: Pray that you would remember your true identity as a child of God, and let that impact your daily living.

Posted on November 6, 2017 .

10.29.17 - Small Group Discussion

Hacked - Good Enough?

Main Point: Faith always responds, or it isn’t really faith.

  • What’s one idea from the message that stood out to you? Why do you think it grabbed you?
     
  • What are some items in, or areas of, your life that you settle for “good enough” in? Why?
     
  • What are some areas that we strive to be good enough in, but sometimes fall short?

Read: The Fifth Claim of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism: Good people go to Heaven.

  • Why is this idea appealing?
     
  • What are the dangers of this viewpoint?

Read: Romans 3:19-26.

  • What was the purpose of the Law?
     
  • The Greek word pistis is most often translated as belief and faith/trust. How do you define these words?
     
  • If belief is an intellectual acknowledgment of something, what is the danger if we just believe that Jesus is real?
     
  • Verse 26 speaks to the fact that those who have faith in Jesus are justified. There is an action component to our faith. What does that action piece of our faith look like?
     
  • If it is our faith, not goodness, that allows us to be saved, how then should we view others as they figure out their faith? Can we have some kind of check list of the things they must do to be saved? Why or why not?
     
  • Why do we struggle with wanting to feel good enough through our actions? Why do we struggle with wanting to make others measure up through their actions to be good enough?

Prayer: Pray that we remember that it is not any amount of goodness on our part, but rather God’s grace that saves us.

Posted on October 29, 2017 .

10.22.17 - Small Group Discussion

Hacked - Who’s in Charge?

Main Point: God loves you too much to let a lesser god take His place, even if that lesser god is you.

  • What’s one idea from the message that stood out to you? Why do you think it grabbed you?
     
  • Who is in charge of you, and who are you in charge of?
     
  • What rights does a creator have over the things they create?
     
  • What do you think leads to a culture of focusing on ‘me’ instead of ‘we?’

Read: The Fourth Claim of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism: God doesn’t need to be particularly involved in a person’s life, except for when God is needed to resolve a problem.

  • Does the way we spend our daily lives support this idea? Why or why not?
     
  • Why is this idea appealing?
     
  • How does this idea fall apart in practical and spiritual situations?

Read: Psalms 24:1-10.

  • In what practical ways do our lives reflect or not reflect the belief that God is Lord of everything?
     
  • Since all people belong to God, how must we treat all people?
     
  • What ownership do we have over people and things? Why?
     
  • God loves us too much to allow a lesser god take His place, even if that lesser god is us. What is the impact of this statement?
     
  • There is a reverence when people enter the presence of a king. Why do we struggle to recognize that God is king of everything?
     
  • How can we show that God is God and we are not in our daily lives?

Prayer: Pray that we remember that God is God and we are not.

Posted on October 22, 2017 .

10.15.17 - Small Group Discussion

Hacked - Feeling Good

Main Point: We want happiness, but we need endurance.

  • What’s one idea from the message that stood out to you? Why do you think it grabbed you?
     
  • What makes you happy?
     
  • When have you needed endurance?

Read: The Third Claim of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism: The central goal of life is to be happy and feel good about oneself.

  • How is this claim appealing and why is it difficult to resist?
     
  • What is dangerous about the desire to be happy?
     
  • Why do you think people have the mentality that a Christian life is supposed to be happy, and how can we help clarify that viewpoint?

Read: John 16:33, 2 Corinthians 4:11-12, 14-17, and James 1:2-4.

  • How does the combination of troubles and peace presented in these passages compare and contrast with your opinions on how life is supposed to be?
     
  • When has endurance helped you when happiness has failed?

Read: CS Lewis presents an idea that there are things in life that should be considered first things and there are things considered second things, and the only way you get the second things is by putting the first things first.

  • What are some second things that you have put ahead of first things? How did that work out?
     
  • How can we prioritize things properly?
     
  • When someone’s happiness has faded, how can you help them to endure?

Prayer: Pray for endurance to persevere through the trials we face.

Posted on October 15, 2017 .

10.08.17 - Small Group Discussion

Hacked - Be Nice

Main Point: God wants more than niceness; God demands holiness.

  • What’s one idea from the message that stood out to you? Why do you think it grabbed you?
     
  • How do you typically approach disagreements with people (nice, push-over, need to be right, etc)? Why do you think you handle disagreements that way?
     
  • Do you think it is possible to be too nice? Why or why not?
     
  • Have you had times where a desire to be nice has kept you from speaking up? Share your thought process and feelings in that situation.

Read: The Second Claim of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism: God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and most world religions.

  • What seems appealing and accurate with this idea?
     
  • What problems do you have with this statement?

Read: Hebrews 12:14-17.

  • To be holy is to be set apart. What are some examples in our daily lives where we make the choice whether to be holy or not?
     
  • How can live out the command in verse 15 to help others live out holiness without sounding holier than thou?
     
  • Are there some discussions or actions that you’ve been avoiding because you’re afraid of not being nice? What do you need to do in order to do the right thing? How can your small group help you?

Prayer: Pray that you will aim for holiness, no matter how uncomfortable that can be.

Posted on October 8, 2017 .

10.01.17 - Small Group Discussion

Hacked - God is Watching

Main Point: God isn’t just a spectator; He’s a participant.

  • What’s one idea from the message that stood out to you? Why do you think it grabbed you?
     
  • What product do you refuse to buy anything other than name brand?
     
  • Share a time you were tricked by something that was only almost-real (a food, a false friend, etc.).
     
  • Is it important to be open to exploring your faith? Why or why not?
     
  • Where or when have you seen or experienced hacked Christianity?

Read: First Claim of Modernistic Therapeutic Deism: A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth (as opposed to Him being engaged with us).

  • What are some of the benefits to thinking that God just watches, instead of engages?
     
  • Is just watching how God operates? Why or why not?
     
  • In what ways does how we live reflect whether we believe God just watches or engages with us? 

Read: Acts .17:24-28.

  • How does this passage support that God is engaging, and not just watching?
     
  • What damage has been done by this false view that God just watches?
     
  • How can you focus on seeing moments of God engaging with you with week?
     
  • How can you help others see that God engages, as opposed to just watches?

Prayer: Pray that you will treat God with the proper respect He deserves; He wants a relationship with you.

Posted on October 1, 2017 .

09.24.17 - Small Group Discussion

Ruth - Join the Family

Main Point: God’s story has the power to transform your story.

  • What’s one idea from the message that stood out to you? Why do you think it grabbed you?
     
  • Where did you come from? What is your family legacy?
     
  • Have you had times where you’ve thought, “If they only knew what I did,” or something similar where you actions or past made you feel like there’s no way you could belong in God’s family? If you’re comfortable, please share.

Read: Ruth 4:1-8.

  • Why do you think Boaz didn’t mention Ruth at first to the other guardsman-redeemer?
     
  • Why do you think the other guardsman-redeemer changed his mind, once Ruth was brought up?
     
  • Have you had times where the people who are involved in a situation make you not want to involve yourself? What about the reverse where your presence kept others from wanting to participate?

Read: Ruth 4:9-22.

  • Verse 13 reads that God enabled Ruth to become pregnant. How does this indicate God working behind the scenes even when we cannot see what He is doing?
     
  • Ruth, a foreigner, is a direct ancestor of King David, and eventually Jesus. What legacy can you leave behind for those that come after you?
     
  • How has God’s story transformed your story?
     
  • How can you help others’ stories be changed by God’s story?

Prayer: Pray that you will allow God’s story to change your story, and remember that He is in control.

Posted on September 24, 2017 .

09.17.17 - Small Group Discussion

Ruth - Step Boldly, Walk Faithfully

Main Point: Courage propels, Integrity protects.

  • What’s one idea from the message that stood out to you? Why do you think it grabbed you?
     
  • What is something that you have personally anticipated and looked forward to?
     
  • As a society, what are some of the things that we look forward to collectively?

Read: Ruth 3:1-9.

  • Why do you think Naomi sent Ruth, instead of going herself?
     
  • How did Naomi show courage in her actions and instructions?

Read: Ruth 3:10-18.

  • In verse 11, Boaz states that the entire town knows Ruth is of noble character. What impact do you think her integrity has on her actions and Boaz’s response to them?
     
  • Now that Naomi and Ruth have both acted with courage, Naomi says it is now time to wait for Boaz to act. How can we find the balance of when we are supposed to act and when we are to wait for others to act?
     
  • What role does your integrity play in being able to take a step in courage? Is your integrity known well enough, like Ruth, that it will help you, or will it hinder you?
     
  • Where can you take step forward with courage this week?

Prayer: Pray for courage to step out in faith and trust God. Pray that you keep your integrity as you act.

Posted on September 17, 2017 .

09.10.17 Small Group Discussion

Ruth - Expect the Unexpected

Main Point: Expect the Unexpected

  • What’s one idea from the message that stood out to you? Why do you think it grabbed you?
  •  
  • What is an unexpected blessing that you have received? What was your response to that blessing?

Read: Ruth 2:1-12.

  • Ruth going to glean required humility because it was a clear signal that she needed help. How do you approach a situation that you need help with?
     
  • Why did Boaz help Ruth? How can we mirror Boaz’s actions in our own lives?
     
  • Ruth specifically brings up that she is a foreigner when she asks why Boaz is helping her. How should we handle this question for those in our lives seeking help?

Read: Ruth 2:13-23.

  • Ruth finds out the truth of who Boaz is when she speaks to Naomi. Do you feel like it was coincidence that Ruth went to Boaz’s field, or God showing his love and loyalty to Ruth and Naomi? How do you approach the issues of coincidence and God directing things?
     
  • In ancient times, people associated everything with the actions of gods and whether or not the people are in the favor of their gods. How is this similar or different than how we currently view world events?
     
  • What is the impact on our lives when we try to explain everything with knowledge, science, etc?
     
  • God blesses us to bless others. How can you be an unexpected blessing to someone this week? Who is in your life that you could bless, but instead you talk yourself out of helping?

Prayer: Pray for God to give you the courage to be a blessing and see the people He has placed in your life to bless.

Posted on September 10, 2017 .

09.03.17 - Small Group Discussion

Ruth - Love and Loyalty

Main Point: Empathy is putting their hurt on my heart

  • What’s one idea from the message that stood out to you? Why do you think it grabbed you?

  • What is your typical response when faced with chaos?
     
  • What are some of the sources of chaos in your life that you’re currently facing?

Read: Judges 21:25, Ruth 1:1-7.

  • Nearly everything was stripped from Naomi. Have you ever felt like you were having everything stripped away? What helped you deal with the chaos?

Read: Ruth 1:8-18.

  • How do you define sympathy and empathy? What are the differences?
     
  • Do you find yourself more often exhibiting sympathy or empathy?
     
  • Is Orpah’s response of going back to her homeland wrong? Why or why not?

Read: Ruth 1:19-22.

  • The chapter ends referencing the harvest which shows God’s love and loyalty to his people. How has God shown love and loyalty to you?
     
  • What do you think of the idea “We need to show Jesus because we can share Jesus?” How can we live that out?
     
  • What will you specifically do to show empathy, not sympathy, to someone this week?

Prayer: Pray for God to show His love and loyalty to you this week, and that your heart would be a heart of empathy for your fellow men and women this week.

Posted on September 4, 2017 .

07.09.17 - Small Group Discussion

Fruitful - Life and Love

Main Point: The Fruit of Obedience is Love, Joy, and Friendship with God.

  • What’s one idea from the message that stood out to you? Why do you think it grabbed you?
     
  • What bad habits have you seen develop very quickly compared to good habits that take time and discipline?
     
  • Why do you think it is that it takes time and effort to cultivate anything that is worthwhile?

Read: John 15:9-17.

  • How do we remain in Jesus’s love?
     
  • Loving others leads to having joy. What is the impact of having joy in your life?
     
  • We are called to love the way Jesus loves. How can we love those that seem “unlovable?”
     
  • Since the greatest love is sacrificial love, what does that look like in a practical sense for loving the “unlovable?”
     
  • What are the implications of being called God’s friend?
     
  • A fruitful life and love are inseparable. What is demanded of us then, as Christians?
     
  • Share with your group what you will start cultivating in order to remain in God better.

Prayer: Pray for the discipline to stay connected with Jesus.

Posted on July 8, 2017 .

07.02.17 - Small Group Discussion

Fruitful - Disciples Bear Fruit

Main Point: If you disconnect, you die.

  • What’s one idea from the message that stood out to you? Why do you think it grabbed you?
     
  • Have you ever felt disconnected? What do you think caused it and how did you feel?
     
  • For relationships that have faded over time, like old friends from high school, what caused the relationship to fade?
     
  • What efforts do you make to maintain and improve friendships or family relationships that you find valuable?
     
  • When have you felt growth in your faith? What do you think contributed to the growth? How about when have felt your faith plateau or decline?

Read: John 15:5-8.

  • What is the significance and meaning to Jesus saying that we can do nothing apart from him? Does that statement fit with what we think we are capable of? Why or why not?
     
  • Is there a difference between the branches that don’t produce fruit and are pruned off, and those that are dead from not being connected anymore to the vine and are thrown into the fire? Why or why not?
     
  • How can Jesus’s words in verse 7 be true that we “can ask whatever we wish and it will be done for you?”
     
  • Being fruitful isn’t about doing things and producing. It is about being present and connected to Jesus. How are you going to intentionally connect with Jesus this week?

Prayer: Pray for the discipline to stay connected with Jesus.

Posted on July 2, 2017 .

06.25.17 - Small Group Discussion

Fruitful - Living a Life Connected with Jesus

Main Point: Connection + Cultivation = Fruitfulness.

  • What’s one idea from the message that stood out to you? Why do you think it grabbed you?
     
  • What have you ever spent time growing/gardening/developing, etc.? What pruning was involved?
     
  • What pruning have you had to experience in your life? What happened as a result?

Read: John 15:1-4.

  • Is the idea of God cutting off the branches that don’t produce fruit scary to you? Why or why not?
     
  • If God prunes us to make us better, does that mean that He causes all the bad things we endure? Why or why not?
     
  • Can there be pruning that doesn’t hurt? Why or why not?
     
  • The word used for “to prune” also means “to cleanse.” What do you think Jesus means in verse 3 when He tells the disciples they “are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you?”
     
  • God wants us to be fruitful in all aspects of life. How do you try to be more fruitful? Are you ever frustrated when it doesn’t seem to work?
     
  • The key to being fruitful is to remain in Jesus. How are you going to remain connected to God this week?

Prayer: Pray for the discipline to stay connected with Jesus.

Posted on June 25, 2017 .

06.18.17 Small Group Discussion

My Awkward Family - The Dad You Wish You

Main Point: Presence is more important than Perfection.

  • What’s one idea from the message that stood out to you? Why do you think it grabbed you?
     
  • Who is your favorite TV/book/movie dad? Why?
     
  • What is/was your father like? What, if any, impact has he had on your life?
     
  • Where does showing up and being present rank in importance with your family? Why?
     
  • When was a time in your life that a father figure’s presence was more important than him being perfect?

Read: 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12.

  • What is the value to you of being treated as an individual?
     
  • How can a father properly encourage his kids?
     
  • What does a father’s comfort look like?
     
  • How can a father urge his children to live lives worthy of God?
     
  • What keeps us from being present in our families’ lives? How can we be more focused on being present?
     
  • What is the value of being present?

Prayer: Pray for the fathers of the congregation to be examples of Christ’s love and support.

Posted on June 16, 2017 .

06.11.17 Small Group Discussion

My Awkward Family - Gray Haired Glory

Main Point: The best thing you can do for your grandchildren is to finish well.

  • What’s one idea from the message that stood out to you? Why do you think it grabbed you?
     
  • When a story has a bad ending, how does that impact the story as a whole?
     
  • What were your grandparents like? What impact, If any, did they have on your life?
     
  • What do you think the role of a grandparent is? Why?

Read: Deuteronomy 4:9.

  • What do you do to help yourself remember what God does for you?
     
  • What are the dangers of a generation forgetting what God has done?
     
  •  When was the last time you shared what God is doing in your life to someone younger than you (child, grandchild, spiritually younger fellow Christian, etc)? Now as practice, share with your small group something that God has done for you.

Read: Psalm 92:10-15.

  • What task(s) could you see God electing you for as a grandparent or as a grandparent in God’s family?
     
  • What are some of the “enemies of your youth” that you want God to defeat in your later years? (Or, what are some of the “enemies of your youth” that God has defeated in your later years?)

Prayer: Pray for the elderly generations to be the positive examples we need them to be.

Posted on June 11, 2017 .

06.04.17 - Small Group Discussion

My Awkward Family - Your Forever Family

Main Point: The family of God isn’t like a family. It is a family.

  • What’s one idea from the message that stood out to you? Why do you think it grabbed you?
     
  • What does family mean to you?
     
  • Do you have, or have you had, any “voluntary kin” in your life, meaning people who are not blood-related but are considered family? Share about those relationships?

Read: 1 Timothy 1:2, Colossians 1:2, and 1 John 3:2.

  • Why do you think the authors use family terms to refer to their readers?
     
  • Do you think of your fellow Christians as brothers and sisters? Why or why not?

Read: Matthew 12:46-50, Luke 14:26, and Mark 10:29-30.

  • How does becoming a Christian make you a member of the family of God?
     
  • Since our fellow Christians are our family, how does that impact how we interact with them? Why?
     
  • Where is the balance between prioritizing the family of God and other family? What are the positives and negatives of focusing on each of them?
     
  • Which family comes first? Why?

Prayer: Pray for your family.

Posted on June 4, 2017 .

05.28.17 - Small Group Discussion

My Awkward Family - Advice for Children

Main Point: Be the kind of child you hope to one day have.

  • What’s one idea from the message that stood out to you? Why do you think it grabbed you?
     
  • What were you like as a child (quiet or loud, obedient or disobedient, etc.)?
     
  • How has your role as a child changed over the years?
     
  • What are some of the lessons that you were taught as a child, but ignored until you saw the value at an older age? How do you think those lessons could have been conveyed in order for you to take advantage of them sooner?

Read: Psalms 119:9-16.

  • What are the differences between how this passage suggests you spend your youth and how the world suggests you spend it?
     
  • What are some of the lessons you learned in your youth that have had the greatest impact on shaping who you are? Why do you think they impacted you so much?

Read: Proverbs 23:22-25.

  • Why are we supposed to listen to our parents?
     
  • The chances are good that either you or someone you know has had neglectful parents. How can we learn positive lessons from our parents, even if they are absent, abusive, etc.?

Read: Ecclesiastes 11:9-10.

  • What similarities/differences do you see between this passage’s views about how to spend your youth and how the Psalms passage suggests you spend it?
     
  • Youth is fleeting. What helps you to see the bigger picture, instead of focusing solely on the here and now?

Prayer: Pray that you will be the child God wants you to be.

Posted on May 28, 2017 .

05.21.17 - Small Group Discussion

My Awkward Family - Incubating Grace

Main Point: God Put You in a Family to Help You Learn Grace.

  • What’s one idea from the message that stood out to you? Why do you think it grabbed you?

  • What are your relationships with your siblings like? If you don’t have siblings, what about parents, cousins, etc?
     
  • Why do you think the Bible contains so many stories of dysfunctional family and sibling relationships?
     
  • How does being in a family teach us grace?

Read: Hebrews 12:14-17.

  • What does Peace mean to you?
     
  • What does Grace mean to you?
     
  • Is living in peace with others easy? Why or why not?
     
  • How is living a holy life connected to living in peace with others?
     
  • Does the way you talk about, and interact with, your family point people towards Jesus, or away from Jesus?
     
  • Is there a balance at times between giving grace and protecting your heart? Why or why not?
     
  • What role does accepting grace play in you being able to give grace?
     
  • How can we prevent bitterness from growing in our hearts?
     
  • What are we supposed to do in the situations where reconciliation is not possible, despite our efforts to live in peace?

Prayer: Pray that you will both give and accept grace.

Posted on May 21, 2017 .