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?
I Can’t….But We Can!
2 Corinthians 5:18-19, 1 Corinthians 12:14-25, Matthew 25:14-30
- Engage the LOST. Empower the MOST VULNERABLE. Equip the NEXT GENERATION.
- Our ministry is the message.
- The impact of caring isn’t stress, but compassion.
- You own your effort – not the results. You own your part – not the whole.
- Where do you tend to fall victim to the comparison trap? Why are you vulnerable in this area? Where does comparison show up in how you interact with others in your faith community?
- Are you a person who likes to be in the spotlight? Why or why not? How does your answer shape your vulnerability to pride and arrogance as well as insecurity and inactivity?
- “I can’t, but we can!” How freeing is it to know you are part of church that views change and impact as a community effort? How does one develop a “we” mindset?
- What is the difference between trying to CONVINCE THE LOST verses ENAGE THE LOST? How do these mindsets influence the approach you take with others?
- Read 2 Corinthians 5:18-19. God entrusted us with the ministry of reconciliation. How does understanding this point change your willingness to own the mission and contribute your part? What happens to our message of reconciliation if we don’t view each part as valuable?
- Read 1 Corinthians 12:14-25. How does this passage speak to the idea of shared ownership? What is the danger if one part of the body is not fully engaged?
- Read Matthew 25:14-30. How does engaging in the comparison game influence our contribution to the whole? How did the individual’s perspective of God impact what he did with the talents he was given?
- Engage the lost. Empower the most vulnerable. Equip the next generation. Which of the three PC3 missions are you drawn to the most? Why do you feel a pull in this direction?
- Where do you need to own and trust your effort and let go of the results? Where do you need to own your part and not be consumed with doing everything by yourself?
“Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the most important step of your life.” -Stuart Hall
- Read the quote from Stuart Hall. As you continue to explore places where you can serve and invest, how does this quote challenge and inspire you? What are some small steps you can take to begin to unlock God’s unique expression for your life?
Leaning in to understand is the first step in learning to care.
Matthew 9:35-38, 2 Corinthians 5:14-21 and 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
- Indifference is a response to protect our hearts.
- We must learn to lean in to understand or we will look away and ignore.
- Missions are an expression of discipleship.
- Our hearts expand or shrink to the size of our greatest concern.
- We don’t wait to care. We must learn to care.
- Compassion begins at the point where we start to care.
- There’s always a person on the other side of the issue. We need to see people behind the issues.
- What makes you hesitate or avoid “leaning in” when you are confronted with the problems of this world? On the flip slide, what causes you to take action and ask “how can I help?”
- Do you feel like you can make a difference in this world? Why or why not? What makes you answer in the way that you do?
- How would you describe your picture of missions? When you hear this word, what images instantly come to mind? How has this picture influenced your willingness to see yourself as a person living on mission?
- Leaning in to understand is the first step in learning how to care. Where does compassion come from? What drives compassion? How does one learn how to care?
- Read Matthew 9:35-38. What was the first thing that Jesus noticed about the crowds? How did Jesus respond to what He encountered? What did Jesus believe was the solution to this problem?
- Read 2 Corinthians 5:14-21. What message and ministry have we been entrusted with as believers? What does it mean to be an ambassador for Christ? How should our encounter with Christ influence the way we view other people? How should this perspective shape our approach to the issues of this world?
- Read 1 Corinthians 13:1-3. What foundation should our actions and words be built upon? How are our efforts wasted if they aren’t grounded in love?
- There are always people on the other side of any issue we face. Are there places where you’ve become more focused on the issues causing you to lose sight of the person on the other side? How can you begin to see things from their perspective?
- Our hearts shrink or expand to the size of our greatest concern. How would you describe the current state of your heart? Where is it expanding and what is causing it to grow? On the other hand, if you feel your soul is shrinking, where is your concern focused?
- Where have you felt a nudge or a prompting to get involved? Instead of turning away, what would it look like to “lean in” and become curious about ways you can help? How can you put yourself in experiences that will impact your heart?
What if we flipped our sinful desires into opportunities to worship God?
Romans 7:15-19, Matthew 4:1-11, John 15:3-4
- We live in a culture of “just one more.”
- We all struggle with something. Each one of us has a core sin we can’t seem to get away from.
- Recognize your design. Resist the temptation. Remain in relationship with Christ.
- If you need to change the Bible in order to justify your behavior, you are going without God.
- Our behaviors are manifestations of choices we’ve already made.
- Sin is going without God. He allows us to go, but when we pursue our own desires, we go alone.
- We live in a culture of “just one more.” How have you seen this mindset play out in your life and the lives of those around you? How does having this mindset leave us vulnerable?
- In the midst of the struggle, how does one know when they are justifying their behavior? What are some justifications you have used in the past to reconcile your behavior?
- Describe a time when you felt “stuck” spiritually or when a temptation seemed to constantly get the better of you. What emotions and thoughts did you experience? How have you typically responded to feeling stuck in the past? How did this wrestling with temptation influence the perspective you had of yourself?
- Read Romans 7:15-19. Describe the level of vulnerability Paul (the author of the passage) exhibited to his readers. What leads one to feel safe enough to be as transparent as Paul? In this passage, Paul speaks of two natures being inside each of us. How do they wage war against one another? How do you relate to this internal struggle?
- Read Matthew 4:1-11. How did the enemy attack Jesus by tempting Him to go against His physical, psychological and emotional design? How did Jesus respond to each temptation? In what ways did He flip the conversation and focus?
- Read John 15:3-4. How is our ability to experience victory in our struggle with temptation tied to our willingness to stay connected with Christ? How can you own your struggle and take personal responsibility while at the same time relying on God?
- Each of us struggles with something. What is your biggest struggle or core sin (lust, fear, pride, jealousy, greed, lying, gluttony, anger, laziness)? Why are you vulnerable to this struggle?
- If every longing at its core is a longing for God, what are you trying to find in the midst of the struggle with your core sin?
- How could you flip your sinful desires into an opportunity to worship God? What would it look like to repurpose your struggle?
We are trusting authority and trusted with authority.
Romans 14:13-19, Matthew 16:13-20, John 5:39-40, Romans 15:1-7
- When we look to God’s Word just to find God’s laws, we will often find loopholes. However, if we look to God’s Word to find God Himself, we find life.
- If you can trust Him with the first step, you can trust Him with the next one.
- Authority requires responsibility. We’ve been given authority to empower others and point them towards freedom.
- Our obedience is not about gaining access to the Kingdom, but for our lives to serve as an expression of the Kingdom.
- God’s love should be the driving force in our lives because this is what God uses to bring His Kingdom to bear in this world.
- True peace is centered on who is standing beside you rather than what is happening around you.
- What our world is looking for is the Kingdom of God because that is the Kingdom we were made for.
- What is the danger in approaching the Bible just to find God’s laws? When you take this approach what are you truly looking for?
- Describe a time when you read your Bible with a red pen and attempted to alter God’s commands to fit your agenda. What often drives this search for loopholes and out clauses?
- You’ve been given authority. Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not? What makes you answer in the way that you do? What are you doing with the authority you’ve been given?
- Read Matthew 16:13-20. What authority have we been given by Christ? How does trusting in His authority enable us to steward our authority well and in the way it was designed?
- Read John 5:39-40. According to this passage, what is the purpose of Scripture? How does all of God’s Word, including His commands, point its readers to the person of Jesus and our need for Him?
- Read Romans 14:13-19 and Romans 15:1-7. How does this passage speak to the communal implications of our individual obedience? What should motivate our submission to God’s authority? Why do the strong and weak in faith need each other?
- The way in which we see the world influences the condition of our heart which in turn gets expressed in how we live our lives. What lens are you currently using to view the world around you? How is this lens shaping your perspective as well as your response to the situations you face?
- How has your view of authority changed as a result of this series? What was the greatest insight you’ve gained? Where do tensions and questions still exist?
- If you can trust Him with the first step, you can trust Him with the next one. What is your next right step of faith when it comes to submitting to God’s authority? What would it look like to have a Kingdom mindset in this area?
When we look underneath our actions we are going to find who or what we trust.
Matthew 4:17, Romans 14:5-19, Romans 8:1-8, Hebrews 11:1
- Righteousness is not about our behavior; it’s about being made right with God.
- Our job isn’t to obey the rules, but to be an expression of His Kingdom in the world.
- Peace has to do with God’s presence – not our circumstances. Joy is the well that gratitude flows from.
- Inheriting the Kingdom of God is not about access, but stewardship. We must become stewards of the
- Kingdom of God and express that in the world around us.
- Every action is an expression of something. We want our hearts to be so captured by God’s love that
- His ways come out in our actions.
- God wants our motives because motive is the thing God uses.
- Faith is acting on your trust.
- Would you say you are a rule follower? Why or why not? What makes you answer in the way that you do? When are you more likely to follow a rule as well as disregard a rule?
- What drives one’s motive if they believe the Kingdom of God is something you can gain access to by obeying the rules?
- How do our actions reveal who or what we trust?
- Read Matthew 4:17. What does it mean to live in the Kingdom of God? How would viewing the Kingdom as something you steward, rather than something you gain access to, impact the way you submit to God’s authority?
- Read Romans 14:5-19. How do our actions and response to God’s authority influence others? How does Paul, the writer of this passage, want his readers to view the commands in light of living in community with others?
- Read Romans 8:1-8. What is law-keeping incapable of doing for us? How did Jesus provide a different way to respond to the rules?
- Read Hebrews 11:1. What part does faith play in our response to God’s authority?
- Every action is an expression of something. If this is true, what are your actions over the past few weeks expressing? How does this expression make you feel?
- Your actions reveal who or what you trust. If this statement is true, where would one say your trust is placed if they looked at your recent actions?
- Faith is acting on your trust. As it relates to submitting to God’s authority and not leaning on your own understanding, where do you need to display faith?
In order for your heart to be captured, it must first be available.
Matthew 21:23-27, Matthew 16:1-4, Matthew 15:1-9, Psalm 51:3-12
- We aren’t available to surrender because we serve other masters.
- We want God’s ways, but on our terms.
- We are masters at looking for exactly what we want to see. We use our mind to either find truth or hide truth.
- When we find truth but don’t like it’s implications, we disregard and dismiss it.
- When God captures your heart, His commands become irrelevant. Obedience becomes an expression.
- God doesn’t want “grin and bear it” heartless obedience.
- We pretend that we are unsure and claim there isn’t enough evidence to submit. But, the truth is we don’t want to submit.
- If you can convince yourself God is not real, you will always have a reason why you can disobey Him.
“Our self-centered hearts distort our reason to the point where we cannot use it to draw true inferences from what is really there. If our disapproval [of God] is strong enough, our sensory faculties and our rational faculties will not be able to infer that He is there.” -John Piper
- Read the quote from John Piper. How can our hearts influence not only what we see, but our response to the evidence presented to us? How are we masters at looking for exactly what we want to see?
- Reflect on a time when your motives altered your perspective of a situation. How did your motives determine your response?
- Why is confronting and exposing our motives such a critical piece in understanding our response to authority
- When making a decision or determining your response to a situation, do you tend to test your motives before acting? Why or why not? If you do, how do you dig down deep enough to reveal issues of the heart?
- Read Matthew 15:1-9. How had the religious leaders made tradition and the rules more important than their obedience? What is the danger in heartless obedience or selective obedience? How did Jesus describe the current state of their heart?
- Read Matthew 16:1-4. What motivated the religious leaders to ask Jesus for a sign confirming His authority? Why did Jesus refuse to give the religious leaders what they wanted? How does this interaction confirm the diagnosis Jesus gave of the condition of the leader’s hearts a chapter earlier?
- Read Matthew 21:23-27. In this passage, how did Jesus respond to the religious leaders questioning His authority? How did His response cut to the heart of the real issue at hand? What standard had the religious leaders set to determine their truth?
- Read Psalm 51:3-17. What does the Lord desire of us? What are the sacrifices that truly honor God? What happens when we pursue truth in our innermost being?
- Are there places in your walk with God where you would say you are just going through the motions and your heart isn’t in it?
- We want God, but on our terms. In what places are you ignoring the implications of God’s truth in order to protect your own? How are your motives influencing your response to what you see in this situation?
- What is motivating this response? Why are you resisting to submit in this area? What would it look like to surrender this area over to God?
- In order for your heart to be captured, it must be available. What really has your heart? Would you say you have made your whole heart available to God? Why or why not? How can you make your heart available to God this week?
Commands serve as placeholders to help us do what we want to do until we want to do it.
Romans 6:16-18, John 14:15-31, 2 John 1:4-6, James 1:22-25
- There is a big difference between what catches your eye and what captures your heart.
- Authority requires restrictions.
- What we see affects the condition of our heart. Our heart is forged by what we encounter.
- Freedom comes from discipline and endurance.
- We become free by becoming a slave.
- You’re only free to the point you are willing to submit to God’s authority.
“In many areas of life, freedom is not so much the absence of restrictions as finding the right ones, the liberating restrictions. Those that fit with the reality of our nature and the world produce greater power and scope for our abilities and a deeper joy and fulfillment. Instead of insisting on freedom to create spiritual reality, shouldn’t we be seeking to discover it and disciplining ourselves to live according to it?” -Timothy Keller
- Why does authority require restrictions?
- Read the quote from Timothy Keller. Do you believe restrictions can truly be liberating? Why or why not? What makes you answer in the way that you do?
- What moves you to obey God’s commands (fear, obligation, trust, hope, etc.)? Why does this tend to be the driver of your obedience?
- Read Romans 6:16-18. How do God’s commands serve as a placeholder that allow our heart to catch up to our obedience? What does obedience driven from the heart look like?
- Read John 14:15-31. What role does the Holy Spirit play in our obedience? Why did Jesus give us the Holy Spirit?
- Read 2 John 1:4-6. How does obedience show how much you value a relationship? When we come under restrictions and obey His commands, what are we communicating to God?
- Read James 1:22-25. How is our obedience tied to what we see? In what ways is our obedience an identity issue?
- What are the commands you struggle with the most? Why does this tension exist? Where does distrust play a role in your response to this command?
- What we see affects the condition of our heart. Our hearts are forged by what we encounter. If this principle is true, where are your eyes currently set and how is it influencing the current state of your heart?
- Where do you need to create a placeholder for your heart to catch up to your obedience?
Ultimate freedom will only be found under God’s authority.
Genesis 1:27-28, Genesis 2:8-9,15-17, Romans 13:1-5
We wrongly assume freedom is the absence of restrictions or expectations.
The absence of authority doesn’t lead one to freedom, but rather chaos and futility.
We must think about what we think about. How did we arrive at our view of authority?
Authority is designed to empower for purpose. It exists to provide a foundation and boundaries for our freedom.
Love requires freedom and a choice.
If you can justify your reason not to trust, you can justify your reason to not obey.
Authority is primarily relational. Authority given has a responsibility to the authority giver.
Human wisdom says only obey what you understand. In God’s economy, you will only understand once you obey.
We live in a culture where trust has been eroded. This erosion has taken its toll on our view and respect of authority.
If God created life, He alone gets to define it.
God established a system of authority built on trust – not a power structure built on strength.
We trusted another and wound up trapped. Because of sin, authority was exchanged for power and community for competition.
From your perspective, what does it mean to be free? How does our culture typically define freedom?
Complete the following sentence: Authority is ________________. What makes you answer in the way that you do? How have you come to this view of authority?
Have you ever experienced someone abusing, neglecting or taking advantage of the authority they’ve bene given? How has this experience influenced your interaction, obedience to, and trust of God’s authority?
The foundation for this series is that ultimate freedom is only found living under God’s authority. Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not?
Read Romans 13:1-5. Where does all authority originate from?
Read Genesis 2:8-9,15-17. What insight does this passage provide on authority being relational? Why does love require freedom and a choice? Why is trust a critical piece in our response to authority?
Read Genesis 1:27-28. What is the blessing God gave us? Why would God give us authority in this world? How did God empower us in this passage? If we are to reflect God’s heart in everything we do, how should we handle the authority we’ve been given?
If God created life, He alone gets to define it. Over the years how have you wrestled with this statement? Are there any issues where you push back at God’s definition?Download Leader Guide Download Participant Guide Watch Message
Where do you struggle with authority? Where has subtle defiance creeped into your life? What is the cause of this resistance? If authority requires trust, why are you struggling to trust God with this area of your life?
Where have you taken authority without regard to why it was given? Why are your grabbing for power and influence in this situation?
Where are you mishandling the authority you’ve been given? What would it look like to ask for forgiveness in this area and begin to steward this authority well?
The perspective of the Gospel brings the promise of redemption.
Psalm 11:1-3, Romans 8:18-28, Jeremiah 29:11 and 1 Corinthians 13:8-13
- Disappointment is a state, not an emotion.
- Asking “What in the world is going on?” is trying to see things clearly from the back seat.
- No matter how hard today is, it isn’t worth comparing to the glory that is to come.
- Whatever shakes the world God can take and turn it into good.
- We need to learn to navigate any circumstance with faithfulness and full of hope.
- Faith saves us. Hope sustains us. Hope rests 0n the foundation of faith.
- Everything in this world is designed to awaken hope.
- The depth of what we are dealing with needs to be matched with the depth of the hope that is in Christ.
- We meet uncertainty with control. God tells us to meet it with faith instead.
- Hope provides us the patience and perspective to see God’s work in the world.
- He died so we wouldn’t be stuck in the futility of this world.
- Our response to disappointment sets the course for the way our lives will go.
- Redemption isn’t making lemonade out of lemons but rather making a life out of death.
- Redemption requires the stubborn belief that God uses everything.
- The depth of the struggle reveals the depth of our hope.
- Without hope, there is no faith – only futility.
- Frustration should not reduce our desire but awaken it.
- What is the danger in expecting our life to always go well? If we know holding this belief is a losing battle, why do many of us continue to live our lives as if this was true?
- Can you think of a time when your world was turned upside down? How did this experience influence your relationship or understanding of God?
- Our response to disappointment sets the course for the way our life will go. How have you witnessed this truth lived out in your own life and in the lives of those around you?
- Read Psalm 11:1-3. How would you answer the question the author poses at the end of this passage? When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?
- Read Romans 8:18-28. According to this passage, why do we experience futility and frustration in this world? How should coming face-to-face with futility awaken within us hope? What does God do for us in the midst of our weakness?
- Read Jeremiah 29:11. Why does hope require uncertainty and must be set towards the future?
- Read 1 Corinthians 13:8-13. What is the relationship between faith, hope and love? How are they connected and build upon one another? Why is love the greatest of all of them?
- Where do you find yourself wondering, “What in the world is going on?” Where has frustration and confusion set in?
- How are you attempting to control this situation? How can you face these circumstances with faithfulness and full of hope instead?
- Redemption requires the stubborn belief that God uses everything. What would redemption of your situation look like?