Always consider others.
Ephesians 4:14-16, Philippians 2:1-11, Galatians 6:1-10
- Connection is to be safely within the care and trust of the body.
- People need a safe place to process their faith.
- It’s easy to believe we love everyone when we are living alone.
- When we’re under pressure we’re more likely to use people to get what we want.
- The people in the seats are more important than the issues on the table.
- Love is allowing people to belong and helping them to become.
- People want to be great and for their life to count.
- People aren’t dumb. People are proud and proud people do dumb things.
- Everyone wants you to think like they do.
- Everybody is crazy so quit wasting time and energy pretending you have it altogether.
- Consider their perspective and story. Consider what they want. Consider what they need.
“We probably have wondered in our many lonesome moments if there is one corner in this competitive, demanding world where it is safe…It might be very small and hidden. But if this corner exists, it calls for a search through the complexities of our human relationships to find it.” -Henri Nouwen
- Read the quote from Henri Nouwen. How have you experienced this desperate search for connection? Why is our tendency to compete rather than connect with others?
- What is the purpose of a relationship? What makes you answer in the way that you do? How does one arrange their life to live out the value of relationships?
- Self-preservation prevents authentic relationships from taking root in our lives. Over the years how have you engaged in self-preservation?
- Can you think of a time when God used someone to speak truth in love to get your attention and help form your character?
- Read Ephesians 4:14-16. When it comes to speaking the truth in love, which part do you tend to emphasize: (1) love without truth or (2) truth without love? Why do you believe this is your natural inclination?
- Read Philippians 2:1-11. What does it mean to “look out for the interest of others”? What are some of the interests of others that we should pay attention to? What role should humility play in our relationships?
- Read Galatians 6:1-10. How does one “carry their own load” while also allowing others to “carry each other’s burdens”? What is required of both parties in order to make this happen?
- Where are you competing with others rather than connecting with them? What drives this competition? Where do you need to display humility?
- Always consider others. Think of a relationship where there is conflict or disagreement. How can you begin to consider the other person’s perspective? What part of their story are you missing?
- Is there someone in your life you need to speak the truth in love to? How can you begin to engage in conversations with this individual? How can you test your motives for speaking these words?
Authenticity begins with honesty.
Genesis 1:26-27, Colossians 3:7-10, Psalm 51:6, James 1:22-25, Psalm 1:1-3
- If you want to pursue truth, you begin by pursuing Jesus.
- Trust can be shaken simply by suspicion. Distrust only requires a question mark.
- Faith is a heart set that allows your experience to catch up with reality.
- Authenticity isn’t about being perfect, but about identity and the image you are reflecting.
- Authenticity provides a standard for truth and a foundation for trust.
- Transparency is what you are allowed to see. Authenticity is trusting what you see.
- The value of authenticity requires that we are relentlessly looking for and pursuing what is true.
- Authenticity requires process and is dependent on grace. We’re all works in progress.
- We are experts at retelling false narratives. We must examine the stories we keep telling about ourselves and others.
- Authenticity has become a buzzword in today’s culture. What do you believe is behind this push to be “authentic”?
- How would you describe or define AUTHENTICITY? Why is it important that our church community values authenticity? How is understanding and valuing authenticity critical in your own life?
- How have you seen authenticity misused and distorted into something it is not (ex. “this is just who I am..I’m being real”)? What are the differences between transparency and authenticity?
- Is it possible to trust an imperfect person? Why or why not? What makes you answer in the way that you do?
- Read Genesis 1:26-27. Why does authenticity require a standard?
- Read James 1:22-25. How does this verse speak to authenticity not being about achieving a standard or perfection, but rather our identity and the image we are reflecting?
- Read Colossians 3:7-10. What role does process and grace play in valuing authenticity in your life and the life of other believers?
- Read Psalm 1:1-3. What level of security does living an authentic life provide?
- What false narratives do you keep telling about yourself or others? How does this story come to be? Why do you continue to tell it?
- Read Psalm 51:6. Where are you resistant to allow God’s truth to penetrate your innermost being ? If authenticity requires honesty, why does this place of your heart remain hidden and unaddressed?
- Are there relationships where your inauthenticity has caused mistrust or suspicion to spring up? How can you mend this relationship?
When your presence is somewhere so is HIS.
Mark 3:1-6, Matthew 10:16, Colossians 4:5-6, Luke 5:17-26.
- Priorities are determined by what we value. Unfortunately, the pace of our life squeezes out our priorities.
- Values explain and preserve why you do what you do.
- A context is present in every relationship, situation and circumstance.
- Being relevant means you matter.
- Don’t have the wrong conversations or waste your time solving the wrong problem. Take the time to understand what is really going on.
- If your words are seasoned with salt, they awaken thought and the thirst for connection.
- When we don’t understand or value context, we become irrelevant.
- Always pay attention. Pay attention to your words, your presence and your influence.
- Context can either be imposed or created.
- How would you describe or define CONTEXT? Why is it important that our church community values context? How is understanding and valuing context critical in your own life?
- What is the danger in not valuing context? What happens if we fail to uphold this value?
- Context can be either imposed or created. Describe the difference between the two. How is context present in every relationships, situation or circumstance?
- Read Matthew 10:16. Why do you believe Jesus used a dove and a serpent to describe how we should carry ourselves in this world? What qualities do these two animals possess that should be seen in our lives?
- Read Colossians 4:5-6. What does it mean to let your conversations “be seasoned with salt”? What role do our ears and mouth play in valuing context? How can valuing context help us make the most of every opportunity?
- Read Mark 3:1-6 and Luke 5:17-26. How do these two stories speak to Jesus understanding and valuing context? In what ways did Jesus speak to the real issues, concerns and attitudes that were present below the surface?
- In what relationships or situations are you failing to understanding context?How is this affecting your connection points and the influence you have in this area or relationship?
- What are you bringing to the environments you are a part of? Are you adding or taking away value? Does your life cause people to be drawn to you or avoid you?
- Where are you having the wrong conversation or attempting to solve the wrong problem? How can you begin to pay attention and address the deeper issue taking place below the surface?
When you understand what matters you can begin to pursue what matters.
Ephesians 1:15-19, Proverbs 13:12, 2 Corinthians 4:6, Psalm 34:8
- What we collide with effects us so deeply on the inside that it eventually gets expressed on the outside.
- Stop managing behavior. Begin to focus on what you see.
- You have a say in who you become this year.
- Jesus invites you into the process of seeing the world differently. Wisdom is about your eyes being awakened.
- Promises focus on the outcome, but neglect the process.
- Values define the things that matter.
- The fruit of futility is indifference. The fruit of resentment is bitterness.
- Spend less time thinking on HOW you are going to change and more time reflecting on WHY you want to change.
- Vision allows you to see what you hope to become and not just what you no longer want to do.
- When you understand what matters you can stop reacting and start responding.
- Over the past few weeks do you find yourself reacting to circumstances or responding to your circumstances? What makes you answer in the way that you do?
- How is transformation and growth found not in fixing your behavior, but changing what you see?
- What dangers exist when you focus solely on HOW you are going to change and fail to answer WHY you want to change?
- Read Ephesians 1:15-19 and 2 Corinthians 4:6. What was Paul’s prayer for the church in Ephesus? What does it mean for the eyes of your heart to be opened? What did Paul want them to see with this new vision?
- Read Proverbs 13:12. Hope deferred makes the heart sick. The fruit of futility is indifference. The fruit of resentment is bitterness. Are there places, situations or relationships where you are carrying indifference and bitterness with you into 2017? Why are you responding in this way and what would it look like to change your perspective?
- Read Psalm 34:8. How willing are you to “taste and see” that the Lord is good? What are you doing with this invitation?
- If someone were to follow you around for a few days, how do you think they would describe what you value? How would their assessment make you feel?
- What are the things that matter to you? How is your life arranged to value those things?
- How would you describe the vision you have for the person you want to become in 2017?
You end up doing BIG things for God by consistently doing SMALL things well.
Colossians 3:17, Colossians 3:22-25, 2 Thessalonians 3:11-12, 1 Thessalonians 4:10-12, Proverbs 20:5
- God has gifted you. God has placed you right where you are.
- Everybody has influence. Everybody is leading somebody somewhere.
- As believers, you carry the integrity of His image and the influence of His love wherever you go.
- Our motives and definitions of success need to be evaluated.
- Your purpose always exists outside of yourself.
- Live in a way where your relationship with Christ is honored.
- God uses your work as a provision for your life and a platform for influence.
- If you don’t define success for yourself, everyone else will.
- God is far less concerned with WHAT we do and more focused on WHY we do it.
- You don’t find your purpose by looking for it. You find your purpose by giving yourself to others.
- Over the years how have you wrestled with that questions, “Why am I here? What is my purpose?” Where have you gained clarity on the answer?
- Where do you have a tendency to overcomplicate God’s will? What has your response been to this pressure?
- Do you believe you have the potential to influence others? Why or why not? How does your answer spur you on or cause you to hesitate to respond?
- What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning? How do you define a successful life? Why is it important to reflect on our motives and definitions of success on a regular basis?
- Read Colossians 3:17 and Colossians 3:22-25. How do these verses speak to God being far less concerned about WHAT we do and more focused on WHY we do it?
- Read 2 Thessalonians 3:11-12 and 1 Thessalonians 4:10-12. According to these passages, how does what we do provide provision for our life and a platform to influence others?
- Read Proverbs 20:5. How is our purpose found by looking outside of ourselves?
- What are some small steps you can take to begin to unlock God’s unique expression for your life?
- What are you doing with the influence you’ve been given? Would you say you are stewarding your influence well? Why or why not? What makes you answer in the way that you do?
- Your purpose always lies outside of yourself. What opportunities have presented themselves to invest in the lives of others?
We must make room for connections and to see those we love.
- The more you get to know someone, the messier things get.
- To love is to act for the good of another.
- People may not remember what you say, but they will never forget the way you made them feel.
- If we’re not careful, relationships can very easily become destinations or resume builders.
- It’s easier to stay shallow than wade into the mess.
- Speed kills relationships.
- Think about your relationships in 2016. Are your relationships flourishing or floundering? What has been the cause of either their growth or weakening?
- What damage can the pace of our life inflict on our relationships? When we are in a hurry, what happens to our connections?
- People may not remember what you say, but they will never forget the way you made them feel. If we were to ask your friends and family how you made them feel over the past year, what do you think their response would be and why? How would their response make you feel?
“Pride is defined by desire, not by love. It is, above all, the presumption that my desires should be fulfilled and that it is an injustice, a crying shame, and an injury if they are not… Love eliminates pride because its will for the good of the other nullifies our arrogant presumption that we should get our way.” -Dallas Willard
- Read 1 Peter 1:13-16. What does it look like to pursue holiness in our relationships with one another? How would our interactions with one another change if we looked to future grace instead of former ignorance?
- Read 1 John 4:7-8 and the quote from Dallas Willard. How does love eliminate pride? Why does love require intentionality and focus? How is our willingness to show love tied to our understanding of Christ’s love?
- Read Hebrews 10:23-25 and 1 Peter 3:8. The more you get to know someone, the messier things get. How have you seen this statement play out in your relationships? What causes you to engage in self-preservation or put limits on your connections with others?
- Read Matthew 5:23-24. According to this passage, what value did Jesus place on our relationships with one another?
- How do you want your current connections to grow and deepen in the upcoming year? What do you hope is different about your relationships a year from now?
- What values do you want to define your relationships in 2017? How will you ensure these values are lived out with the people around you? How can you make room in your life for connections?
- How would the way you approach your relationships in 2017 change if you lived by the “leave things better than you found them” principle?
If you can see clearly, everything changes.
- We are no longer trapped by our former ignorance, but freed by future grace.
- The moments we want most want to escape are the moments we most need to engage.
- We like faith on our terms. But, hope requires uncertainty.
- When we’re constantly attracted by the common, we are not available to the holy.
- Time is the way grace comes to us.
- People tend to see what they’re looking for.
- Future grace is the recognition that God meets us in the moments as we walk by faith.
- Worry keeps us stuck in patterns of former ignorance.
- Would you say you are an optimist or pessimist? When things don’t go according to plan, are you an escapist or control freak? How do your answers influence your emotions and how you view your ability to change?
- How have you experienced confirmation bias (people tend to see what they’re looking for) in your life and the lives of others? How does this lens impact one’s hope for change?
- What’s the difference between seeing your emotions through the lens of God’s purpose rather than funneling God’s purpose through the lens of your emotions?
- Read 1 Peter 1:13-16. In this passage how does the author contrast future hope with former ignorance? What fuels our former ignorance? How does giving in to this line of thinking lead to past patterns and unchecked desires?
- Read Titus 2:11-14. What role does setting our mind on future grace play in our transformation process? What is the key to not getting stuck in old patterns?
- Read Matthew 6:22-23. What does Jesus want us to understand about our perspective and the lens we use to view life?
- What has been your most dominant emotion (pick one positive and negative) in 2016? Why have these emotions made an extended appearance in your life?
- Do you trust and believe God has a purpose for your current circumstances? What makes you answer in the way that you do? Does your answer match the way you are responding to your circumstances?
- Where are you struggling to see beyond the present moment or viewing yourself through your past patterns?
- How are you allowing your emotions be the lens you use to view your circumstances? What would it look like to clear your view?
In order to see Him, we must make room in our lives to look.
- The normal, natural pace of life does not push one towards spiritual formation.
- Embracing the future requires dealing with the past.
- Our lives are full of what we make room for.
- Holiness isn’t about our behavior, but our purpose. Holiness means to be “set apart.”
- Unfinished business bogs down new beginnings.
- Time is a carrier of grace and that’s why it heals. We get grace in each moment.
- Complete the following sentence: 2016 has been a year of _________________. What makes you answer in the way that you do?
- How do you tend to handle the hustle and bustle of the holiday season? How would you describe your current pace? Is it pushing you towards or away from spiritual formation?
- Holiness isn’t about our behavior, but our purpose. Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not? How do you tend to define holiness?
- Read 1 Peter 1:13-16 and Leviticus 11:44-45. How would our approach to spiritual formation change if we viewed holiness as being “set apart? How can one pursue holiness in their schedule?
- Read 1 John 3:1-3. What role does understanding our identity have in what we value and pursue?
- Read 1 Samuel 12:16, Habakkuk 2:20 and Matthew 11:28-30. Why does God command us to be still? What does God promise us if we slow down, trust Him and embrace solitude?
- Embracing the future requires dealing with your past. What is the danger and cost to your future when you allow things to remain unfinished?
- Where are you reluctant to deal with your past? What is creating this hesitation (pride, fear, doubt, unforgiveness, worry, etc.)?
- How could you leverage the month of December to create momentum heading into 2017? What would it look like to make space in your life during the holiday season to hear God’s voice?
As you do “your thing,” the church does “the thing.”
- The way you find “your thing” is by first doing “a thing.”
- Don’t mistake trivia with depth.
- If the love of Christ doesn’t compel us, something else will.
- God is reconciling the world to Himself and He is using us to do it.
- Our life should be an expression – not a power grab.
- The challenge is to take our attention off ourselves and fix our eyes on the needs of others.
- If the love of Christ doesn’t compel us, something else will. What fuels people to serve and help others? For those who don’t know Christ, how can their heart for service reveal to them about being hard wired for God?
- How much stress and angst do you feel (or have felt) about finding “your thing”? Where does this pressure come from?
- Don’t mistake trivia with depth. How is the depth we crave in our relationship with God found in stepping into opportunities to serve others?
- Read Ephesians 2:8-10. What does it mean to be “God’s handiwork”? How should understanding our identity in Christ influence our tendency to boast in our work, accomplishments and impact?
- Read 2 Corinthians 5:14-20 (The Message). God has given us the task of telling everyone what He is doing. How do you define reconciliation? How does the work we do accomplish the task of reconciling the world to God?
- Read Proverbs 16:1-3. Why is it important to test our motives for “leaning in” and serving others? What are some indicators that one’s motives are off base and not rooted in the right heart set?
- Read Colossians 3:12-17. Whatever you do, do it all in the name of Jesus. How does this statement take the pressure off of finding “your thing” and allow you to be curious, lean in and start somewhere?
- How has your view of the importance of your contribution to the overall impact of our community changed over the course of this series?
- Where have you grown curious and decided to “lean in” to the issues you see all around you?
- Have you found “your thing”? How has your life begun to serve as an expression of Christ’s love?
We work TOGETHER to do what we can’t do ALONE.
James 2:14-17, Matthew 5:3, Isaiah 58:7-12 and 1 Thessalonians 1:2-10
- God guides our steps. God grows our hearts. God provides strength and satisfaction.
- His faithfulness is the source of our faithfulness.
- Jesus said, “TAG, you are it.”
- We value others by understanding what’s important to them.
- What is the primary task of the church? How does your answer to this question influence your willingness to “lean in” to the issues facing our world and the way you go about caring for others?
“The goal is to see people restored to being what God created them to be; people who understand that they are created in the image of God with the gifts, abilities, and capacity to make decisions and to effect change in the world around them; and people who steward their lives, communities, resources, and relationships in order to bring glory to God.” -Steve Corbett from When Helping Hurts
- According to the quote from Steve Corbett, how should the care and help we provide for those that are in need differ from that of the world? As a church, how should we define impact and what we consider a “win” in terms of our efforts to help?
- What is poverty? What words or pictures come to mind when you think of poverty? Other than material needs, what are some other forms of poverty?
- How can our helping actually hurt not only the person in need, but the giver as well? In what ways can we create co-dependency relationships and allow a God complex to spring forth?
- Read James 2:14-17. What has the potential to cause our words of Christ’s love to become bankrupt and hollow to those in need?
- Read Matthew 5:3. What does it mean to be “poor in spirit”? Why are the poor in spirit promised the Kingdom of Heaven? How does understand and acknowledging our own poverty fuel humility and shape our approach to others?
- Read Isaiah 58:7-12. What promises are contained within this passage for those who display compassion to others and help those who are hurting? How does God use our obedience to shape our character?
- Read 1 Thessalonians 1:2-10. When people in need look at your church, in what ways do they see us reflecting the heart of Christ? What else could our church be doing to address issues of poverty?
- As you continue to “lean in” and discern where God is calling you to act, what tensions, hesitations or pushback are you feeling?
- Where do your eyes need to be open in terms of issues of poverty happening in your city, region and world?
- How can we as a small group come together and leverage our combined resources to make an impact in places where we see need? What would it look like to empower those in need?