Welcome to Week 4 of Mission Groups! As we round the corner into the last stretch of our first short session together, let's keep pushing toward creating environments that people want to come back to for the second half of the fall!
MISSION WELCOME LUNCH
:: Sunday, October 25 at 12:45 PM
This is an important first or next step for anyone at Mission who hasn't attended before! It would be a great idea to make an official invite to your group and even offer to attend with them if you can! We'd be glad to have leaders there to help make people feel comfortable and welcomed (even if you've been before!). Lunch and child care are provided.
:: Sunday, November 8 at Every Service
Child dedication is a chance for parents to express their desire and dedication to raise their child in such a way that he or she would grow up in a relationship with God. It is an opportunity for the family to commit to teaching and showing the child the love of God, and it’s a chance for our church to commit to supporting the family throughout the journey of raising their child!
Last week we talked about a couple simple tangible and practical ways that we create safe places in our circles; let's keep focusing in on that goal with a couple more!
We keep it inside the circle.
It's a big deal when someone chooses to be vulnerable and share with a group of people. That kind of trust takes a long time to build, but only a second to destroy. Confidentiality assures a person that their choice to share with the group remains exactly where they chose; it's always their story to tell, never anyone else's. This is something we always have to treat with the utmost importance!
We enforce the rules of safety quickly and kindly.
One thing is ensured by creating ground rules in our group discussion: someone will break them.
Never be afraid to call it out if someone clearly cross-talks, sermonizes, tries to fix someone else, etc. Do it quickly and with an understanding tone, always believing the best about the person. Point back to the small group statement, and let it be. Then follow up afterward to explain more or make sure that person understands what happened.
Pointing it out in group as it happens is hard to do, but builds trust and safety in the group. But when you do, your group knows that you are looking out for their best, and that you are willing to protect the safety that we all need.
MAINTAIN EYE CONTACT
Focus hard on keeping good eye contact with whoever is sharing! It’s an easy way to make sure people feel noticed and listened to.
Simple, but effective! During the discussion, lean forward in your chair. Notice all the people that lean in too and stay extra engaged; they'll follow your lead!
While it's true that we all bite, we all get bitten, too. Whether we lean toward too many boundaries or too few, our vampires get to us eventually. And can be hard to walk the line between loving and enabling.
Jodi helped us see the balance between sharing each other's burdens and guarding our hearts at the same time. And although we don’t always get it right, and reach for a mask to help us cope, God is quick to remind us of who he says we are. And that changes everything!
We are a group of imperfect people pursuing a perfect God. We exist to help each other find and follow Christ. We aim to 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.
- Jodi mentioned some of the classic annoying vampires… what are your biggest pet peeves?
- What personal burdens have others helped you carry? How did that change your experience?
Around A.D. 50, the Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the churches in Galatia, a province of Rome. There was conflict brewing between Jewish Christians and gentile (non-Jewish) Christians, and a lot of confusion around what exactly was necessary to be considered a follower of Jesus. Paul’s letter re-centered the church on the idea that faith alone was enough to begin life with God, and what that meant for the church as they lived together in close community.
“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.”
“…we are each responsible for our own conduct.”
- What does Paul mean by the “Law of Christ”? Why is sharing each other’s burdens so important to that Law?
- How do Paul’s words about how we view ourselves (and how we should view ourselves) change the way we see other people’s burdens?
- Jodi said, “Life goes well when we help carry people’s boulders, but not when we pick up their backpacks.” Do you more often shy away from helping with boulders, or pick up every backpack you see? Why do you think you do that?
- This week, what boulder do you need to help someone carry? What backpacks do you need to put down?
- Jodi talked about the masks that we have learned to wear after being “bitten” and hurt. What mask do you identify with the most? Where do you think it came from?
- Take a minute to read one of the paragraphs about what God says to us when we wear each mask. What obstacles keep you wearing your mask, and keep you from believing or trusting what God says about you?
- How can you confront those obstacles in a practical way this week?
- Pick the mask you identify with most, and look up the verses from the paragraph that goes with it. This week, spend some time seeing how God’s words to us start confronting the obstacles that make it hard for us to believe or trust what he says about us!
- Also, for more info on healthy boundaries, check out the book that Jodi mentioned in her message: Boundaries, by Henry Cloud.
Some of the classic (annoying) vampires...
- The infamous one-upper
- The classic Debbie Downer
- People who drink milk out of the carton
- People who use speaker phone in public places
- People who leave crumbs in the butter
- People who join in the middle of a movie and say “What’d I miss?"
"Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life."
(a proverb of King Solomon ca. 1000 BCE)
HEART (Hebrew definition): your inner person, your core values, your emotions, your dreams
"Share each other’s burdens ("boulders"), and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.”
(the Apostle Paul writing)
“…we are each responsible for our own conduct ("backpacks").”
(the Apostle Paul writing)
Love without enabling. Confront without forgetting love.
We all have a favorite mask to protect ourselves from bites.
The Party Mask
:: Looking for acceptance and numbing the pain
I know you have become weary and feel the weight of the world on your shoulders. Come to Me and I will give you rest. Bring all your anxiety and fear to Me and leave them with Me. I will keep you in perfect peace when you keep your mind on Me and trust Me. I care about you. I keep track of all of your sorrows and have collected all of your tears. I have compassion for how you’ve been afflicted. I have not forgotten you. Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on her child? Here is my promise, though she may forget, I will not forget you! The acceptance you find in everything under the sun, is meaningless and temporary, but I have freely given you My acceptance. I do not give to you as the world gives….and then takes away. So do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid. I heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds. -God
(Isaiah 26:3, Matthew 11:28, John 14:27, Psalm 56:8, Isaiah 49:13,15, Ecclesiastes 1:14, Psalm 147:3)
The Superhero Mask
:: Trying to achieve, perform, and please everyone, to never be "not good enough" again
Before you were born, you were special to me. I knew you before you were conceived in your mother’s womb. With My own hands I fearfully and wonderfully created every detail that makes you unique. I have watched you every day of your life, so I know you. I know where you have been, where you are, and where you are going.
If you only knew the thoughts I have toward you. Did you know that My thoughts for you outnumber the grains of sand on all the beaches of the world? You are the apple of my eye. I have engraved you on the palms of My hands. You did not earn my acceptance through anything you have done. You can’t take credit for it, it is a gift from me. So it is not what you do that makes me love you, for compared to what I deserve your righteous acts are like filthy rags. But it is My love for you that makes you precious and honored in my sight. I created you for My glory, and I will never abandon what I have formed and made. -God
(Psalm 17:8, Psalm 23:6, Psalm 100:5, Psalm 138:8, Psalm 139:13-18, Isaiah 43:4,7, Ephesians 2:8-9, Isaiah 64:6, Isaiah 49:16, Jeremiah 1:5)
The Catcher's Mask
:: Self-protecting and keeping everyone at an arm's length
I am the eternal God, your Refuge. And underneath you are My everlasting arms. My grace is sufficient for you for My power is made perfect in your weakness. So do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer present your requests to Me. And My peace, which transcends understanding, will stand guard over your heart and mind.
Rest my child, for I have been good to you. You can trust Me. I have delivered your soul from death, your eyes from tears and your feet from stumbling, so that you may walk before me in the land of the living.
When the cords of death entangle you, when you are overcome with trouble and sorrow, call upon My name. I will reach down from on high and take hold of you; I will draw you out of the deep waters. I will rescue you from your powerful enemy, Though they confront you in the day of your disaster, I will be your support. I will rescue you because I delight in you. I will quiet you with my love; I will rejoice over you with singing.
So, My loved one, rest secure in Me for I will shield you all day long. You can trust in my unfailing love. You are the one I love; come rest between my shoulders. -God
(Deuteronomy 33:12,27; Psalm 18:16-19; Psalm 116:3-5, 6-9; Zephaniah 3:17, 2 Corinthians 12:9, Philippians 4:6-7, Psalm 13:5)
The Lone Ranger Mask
:: Dealing with past hurt and abandonment alone instead of asking for help
I am your Father and you are my child. I will never leave you. Never. I will watch over you wherever you go.
I have upheld you since you were conceived, and have carried you since your birth. Even into your old age, when your hair has turned gray and you have grown weak, I will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you when you cannot go on. You can turn to me when you are lonely and I will be gracious to you. I will free you from your anguish. I am a father to the fatherless, defender of widow, and I place the lonely in families. I will be with you in trouble. I will never leave you nor forsake you. So you can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”
So, be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, for I am with you. I am your Father and you are my child. I live with you and walk with you. -God
(Deuteronomy 31:6, Psalm 91:14-15, Isaiah 46:3-4, 2 Corinthians 6:16-7:1, Hebrews 13:5-6, Psalm 25:15-17, Psalm 68:5-6)