Welcome to Week 2 of our second session of Mission Groups!
BAPTISMS AT THE BEACH
:: November 22 @ 1:00 PM (Marina Park, Ventura)
Come celebrate the people that are going public with their faith through baptisms! Try announcing it in group and planning on spending time together at the event. Have everyone bring lunch and spend time celebrating these people! And if anyone is interested in actually getting baptized, point them to missionventura.com/baptism to fill out the online baptism form!
Mission could not function without the HUNDREDS of incredible volunteers that give of their time, energy, and gifts. And you all are prime examples of that! I am so thankful for each of you, and how you arrange your lives so that you can serve the people at Mission, helping them connect relationally and grow spiritually. So this celebration is for you! More details and an official RSVP coming soon!
Every group of people experiences 4 stages of group relationships.
We all know the reality of evolving group relationships. They start at "0", we make some progress, get to know each other, take some time off, move back a little bit, something big happens, jump forward... and the list goes on. Relationships are dynamic, people's lives are ever-changing, and relational chemistry is not a science. But, what we do know is the stages that we all experience:
public → social → personal → private
Acquaintances. Friends. Close friends. Family. We move in out of these stages, sometimes without even realizing it. And while we sometimes feel the pressure to be further along than is even possible...
There are lots of "ground rules" and things to know about these stages. But this week, remember that our goal as group leaders isn't to manufacture "private" relationships between all your group members...
The goal is to create safe environments in which movement toward those relationships is possible.
Pass Off the Group Statement
It doesn’t have to be you! Try asking someone (or asking for a volunteer) to read the statement - it helps involve everyone, maintain freshness, and create a level playing field in the group.
Conversational Feedback and Affirmation
Sharing can be an uncomfortable thing for many people. As facilitators, we need to encourage people as soon as they share with quick and simple statements like…
"Thanks for sharing!" "Sounds like that meant a lot to you." "Anyone else connect with that point/question/idea?"
Make sure to stay away from “value statements”, either positive or negative! Also make sure to remember, we are the ones who encourage sharing, not the ones who teach or over-share.
Throughout this series we are taking a look at some of the people Jesus met with over a meal and some of the conversations that took place while they ate together.
This weekend, Jen Oakes brought us to an interrupted dinner party found in Luke 7. While Jesus is at the home of a Jewish scholar, a woman with a reputation as a sinner interrupts the party. She extravagantly displays her faith in and love for Jesus in a way that offends almost everyone in the room. Jesus tells her that her sins are forgiven, and shockingly commends her in front of everyone there. In this dramatic encounter, Jesus shows us just how much God’s grace radically impacts our lives.
We are a group of imperfect people pursuing a perfect God. We exist to help each other find and follow Christ. We passionately love Jesus, ruthlessly eliminate ego, courageously live in grace and truth, confidently know who we are in Christ, unconditionally trust God, intentionally live better stories, and selflessly extend compassion.
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.
Remember, the questions are a guide for a well-facilitated conversation! Don't feel the need to get through every one, go in perfect order, or mark off any checkboxes. Know the questions well enough beforehand so you can track with your group and the conversation you are having, and follow the path that best suits your people!
- What’s the most extravagant display of love or affection you’ve made, been a part of, or received?
- What people that you've known have an obvious and contagious love for God and the people around them? What about their lives makes it so obvious?
The book of Luke was written by a Gentile (non-Jewish) named Luke; he was well educated in Greek culture, a physician by profession, and a close friend of the Apostle Paul. The book was written to strengthen the faith of followers of Christ, to provide a very clear account of Jesus’ ministry, and show how Jesus’ message of the Kingdom of God was for all people.
- The woman’s expression of appreciation and love for Jesus was considered offensive to the people at the party, and came at great personal cost. Why was it so worth it for her to express herself like she did?
- What does the Pharisee’s reaction tell us about our tendencies as human beings around people we are uncomfortable with?
- What does Jesus’ response to the woman at the party tell us about what God thinks is important?
- How can you relate to the people in the story? How have you acted similarly to the different characters at different times in your life?
- Jen said that when we "love little", we become unmoved and apathetic - like the Pharisee at the party. What in your life shows you that you are loving little? How do you think you get to the place of loving little?
- Jen talked about what happens we “love much” like the woman at the party: we express it, value it, and extend it. What might people around you say shows them that you have a love for God? What ways has God impacted the way you live daily life?
- We all have parts of our life or heart that are still unmoved or apathetic. What about your life or thinking needs to change for you to move from loving little to loving much?
- What are some of the ways that God might be moving you to express your love and appreciation for Him? Is it baptism? Volunteering at Mission or serving in your community? Meeting your neighbors? Reaching out to a friend or relative in need? Think about a tangible way you might be able to further express, value, trust, or extend your love for God!
When we come to the table, we find... God’s grace is enough.
Justice is... getting what you deserve.
Mercy is... not getting what you deserve.
Grace is... getting what you don’t deserve.
2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NIV)
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
When we come to the table, we find... God's grace is amazing!
"Prostitutes are in no danger of finding their present life so satisfactory that they cannot turn to God: the proud, the arrogant, the self-righteous, are in that danger.” - C.S. Lewis
Ephesians 2:1, 4-10 (NIV)
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins...But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”
When we love much, we...
Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure.
Philippians 2:13 MSG
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?
Romans 6:1-2 NIV
- Extend it (#BeAwesomeToSomebody)
When we love little, we...
“The God of the universe--the Creator of nitrogen and pine needles, galaxies and E-minor--loves us with a radical, unconditional, self-sacrificing love. And what is our typical response? We go to church, sing songs and try not to cuss.”
Francis Chan, Crazy Love