We hope your first week went great! A few things to do before your second gathering...
>>> Contact anyone individually who didn't show up to the first gathering, telling them they are totally welcome to attend still, and that you want to see them there!
>>> Send around the refreshment sign-up sheet to everyone and remind whomever is signed up this week. (or get one ready if you didn't the first week!
>>> Make sure everyone in your group knows about the Mission APP, where they can find the Discussion Guide each week!
We read this statement together before every group discussion. It helps transition the group to discussion time, it reaffirms our highest values, and sets a tone of trust, consistency, and safety for everyone in the group.
We are a group of imperfect people pursuing a perfect God. We exist to help each other find and follow Christ. These are some things we want to be true of our group:
- We create a safe and honest environment, staying transparent and authentic.
- We keep it inside the circle. Confidentiality is necessary for a healthy group.
- We look together to the Bible for help and guidance, and keep out our own politics, sales, or agendas.
- We do not try to fix each other, preach sermons, or give unsolicited advice. We instead encourage, listen to, and celebrate each other.
- We handle conflict between us quickly and honestly by going to the person, owning our part, and practicing forgiveness.
- We respect each others’ time by starting and ending when we say we will.
- We trust that it is God’s role to change people, not ours.
- We believe that in Jesus Christ, there is hope for everyone.
>>> LEADER TIP: try a moment of silence before starting
Try beginning your time together with 1-5 minutes of silence followed by a brief prayer inviting God to guide the conversation. Silence can help center our hearts and minds towards God so we can hear the whispering voice of God. We live in a noisy world, so silence is not only abnormal - it's almost impossible! We want to hear God’s voice as we gather to share our spiritual journeys. Silence will prepare us to listen.
>>> LEADER TIP: integrate any new people fully
To really solidify any new additions from week 1, or to welcome any new additions during week 2, do a refresh of all the introductions! The goal is that everyone gets to know the new people, but also that the new people get to know everyone else!
- What's your favorite thing about autumn?
For homework last week we read the introduction of the book, which told us that this book will be teaching us how to live as Jesus taught us to live, and how to enjoy an intimate relationship with Him.
We also read the section on How to Get the Most Out of This Book which included preparing, reading, completing the weekly exercise, completing the written reflections, interacting at group and encouraging each other.
Chapter 1 was called What are You Seeking?, in which we learned that transformation happens not through willpower, but by training our souls. We read about the “triangle of transformation” which involves four basic elements:
- Changing the stories in our minds,
- engaging in new practices,
- in reflection and dialogue with others who are on the same path, and
- all under the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Our soul training excercise was sleeping until we couldn’t sleep any more at least one day this week.
>>> Leader Tip: how to check in on homework
Remember, YOU have the best idea of where people are at in your group. Homework is different for everyone... reaffirm for everyone that while the homework is strongly encouraged, the most important thing is showing up - no matter what!
Sometimes, checking in on the soul training will be more like encouraging your group to do it the following week! Be realistic about goals, and encourage your group to take their personal NEXT step of obedience and commitment - it looks different for everyone.
Were you able to practice the discipline of sleep this week? If so, what did you do and how did you feel about it?
What, if anything, did you learn about God or yourself through the exercise?
If you didn't get to practice the discipline of sleep this week, how can you make a plan to try it this week?
>>> Leader Tip: Split up big groups
If you've got a pretty big group, consider breaking up the group into smaller groups of 2-4 for a 1 or 2 questions. This can help people share when they normally might not, since a smaller group can be less intimidating. Also, it can help foster closer relationships within the group!
What stuck out to you in the chapters we read? Look at the questions sprinkled throughout each chapter and discuss anything particularly helpful or challenging.
Have you ever tried to change something about yourself? What process did you use? How successful were you in changing?
>>> Leader Tip: Split Up the Question
Sometimes asking multiple questions at once can be confusing, or give people too much to process at once. Try just asking the first question, then saving the others as "follow-up" questions after one person, or several people, shares!
The author gives us a diagram for transformation (p. 24). It is made up of personal narrative, soul-training exercises, community and the Holy Spirit. Have any of these helped you change in the past?
Our narratives are stories that shape the way we live. To help you understand the concept of narratives better, think of a story from your life that defines "success" for you.
Many people are tempted (and have been taught) to practice spiritual disciplines to please God, when in fact they are a means of transforming the soul. How does that alter your approach to the practices you already do? If spiritual disciplines aren't a part of your life right now, does seeing them that way make you more likely to try them out?
When has a small group of people spurred you on and encouraged you in a difficult season, or when you were trying to accomplish something hard?
From the section on the work of the Holy Spirit (p 28-31), what insights did you gain about the Holy Spirit and how he impacts our narratives, soul training or sense of community?
- Chapter 2: "God is Good"
Soul Training: SILENCE & AWARENESS OF CREATION
- Find 5 minutes a day to sit in silence and take a walk outside. Pay great attention to nature, then reflect on those times of silence and awareness.
Ask everyone how you can be praying for each other throughout the week. Make sure to write them down and send them to the group so everyone can be praying throughout the week.
Close in prayer or ask someone else to pray!