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?
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?