We are a group of imperfect people pursuing a perfect God, and these are some of the ways that we ensure healthy group discussions:
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.
Rumble strips on the road are in place for a reason. They tell us we are headed in the wrong direction and to get us refocused before we head into danger. We can’t correct what we don’t detect. God cares so much about the direction we are heading that He speaks to us through His word like a rumble in our hearts.
Mike started the series by talking about how desperately we need a direction correction. And while we often turn to self-help, willpower and resolutions to get us toward the healthy life we know we want, there’s a sneaky truth that is easy to forget… in the long run, self can’t really help; self got us here in the first place. The big question is, can we let God be the engine, power and motivation for our change?
Connect with each other
What are some things you’re specifically focusing on as you start the new year?
What resolutions have worked for you in the past? What made them work?
Connect with the Message
BUCKSHOT VS RIFLE
Mike talked about 5 different potholes in the beginning of his message - and they each have a lot of potential discussion around them!
There are 2 main ways to navigate a discussion like this!
1. Buckshot: Share ALL the examples (without the specific questions) and let people choose what resonated with them. This lets the group take ownership over the direction of conversation! If you do this, prepare to springboard off of someone’s response and dig deeper into that topic as they bring it up. Then you can use the specific questions to keep the conversation going.
2. Rifle: Pick a specific question to start with if you have a feeling of what might resonate most. There is a wealth of potential discussion around EACH of these examples. You know your people! If you have a feeling about what would be most helpful for your people, start there with a specific question and use the buckshot method as a back up.
POTHOLES TO AVOID WHEN TRYING TO CHANGE
> Self-help or willpower
The truth is, Self can’t really help; self got us here in the first place! And even after we’re rescued by Jesus, the grace and kindness of God is what transforms us - it’s not suddenly our job to shape up or fix ourselves.
Sheer willpower does move the needles sometimes, but why does it fall short of true transformation? How have you seen that work out in your own life?
> Don’t wait until you start feeling good to do good
You will never be mature enough to take the next step. Just take it and God will grow you up along the way. You’ve got to lead your body to where your head doesn’t want to go. Galatians 6:9 says “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”
What are some common excuses you hear in your head that keep you from taking the right next step you know you ought to take?
How do you figure out your tangible spiritual next step? Do you feel like you have one in front of you right now?
God doesn’t expect perfection, he encourages progress. Philippians 1:6 says “I am confident that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work in you until it is finally finished on the day that Christ Jesus arrives.”
Some of us are wired in a way that makes being okay with progress, and not perfection, really difficult. Are you the type of person that would say something like “If I can’t do it right, I won’t even try”?
Getting stuck in the perfection pothole is not an effort problem - it’s an identity problem. How does
> The Wrong People
When we’re at our worst, there are some people that will inevitably bring us back down the path we were trying to stay away from.
> Wrong thinking
Romans 12:2 says “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Direction (not intention) determines destination; decisions determine direction; what I download determines my decisions.”
What “old ruts” are you stuck in? What old ways of thinking have you never intentionally re-wallpapered
What outside voices or factors are keeping those old ruts alive and well? What would it take to cut them off?
THE RIGHT KIND OF PRAYER
Psalm 25:4-5 says “Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.”
A prayer like this easy to say - but it’s not so easy to live out. The author of this psalm says that it’s his job to actively put his hope in the God who saves us, all day long. What does it look like to “all day long put your hope in God”?
WEAR THE RIGHT SHOES
Which pair of shoes from Mike’s message sounded like the pair that you need to focus on most right now? (read them through and use the questions below each as a helpful tool for sharing!)
> Slippers (first thing in the morning, last thing at night)
If someone looked at your morning and nighttime routines, what would they say is the foundation of your day?
What is one change that could change those routines and help you build your day differently?
> School Shoes (learn, study, understand)
What don’t you understand about what you believe? What big questions do you have about God, faith, Jesus, life with God, the Bible, etc?
What’s stopping you from actually investigating those questions and finding out what God has to say about them?
> Work Boots (go to work re-wallpapering your mind)
We all have hurts, habits, and hang-ups that hold us captive. What areas of your life or mind need re-wallpapering the most? Where are you going to go for help getting well and thinking differently?
> Cleats (prepare for competition)
We all walk in enemy territory - the world will always pull us away from our identity as children of God. Where in life do you encounter the most adversity against remembering the value that God has given you?
> Flip-Flops (learn to relax into your identity as a much loved child of God)
What regular and recurring practices would help you remember that you are deeply loved by God? How would remembering who God says you are change your day-to-day life?
Make Read/Pray/Do a part of your discussion
Every group should be working to move each other toward action. Learning is great, but did we really learn it if we aren’t doing it?
The Read/Pray/Do section of each discussion guide is as much a part of the discussion as the questions! Prioritize some time to talk about the challenges in it, check in with each other about they went over the last week, and make plans to support each other in making it happen during the next week.
READ. PRAY. DO.
Read… SOMETHING! This month, it’s not as much about which part of the Bible you read… it’s about just reading A part of it! The YouVersion Bible app is FILLED with hundreds of plans that will help you explore different biblical themes and topics, or read through specific sections over a certain amount of time. Pick something and go for it!
Pray this prayer on your own, or use it to kickstart your own personal prayer time.
Father, show me your way so that I can leave behind and forget my own, because my way has only led to destruction and death. Yours leads to life.
Lead me in your love. You came to us when we couldn’t come to you. You loved us when we were unlovable. Lead me into a life that is filled with your love so that I can freely give it away to everyone I encounter.
Guide me in your truth. Clean my mind out from the lies that I’ve lived in and told myself all my life.
Over the month of January, pick one of these weekly challenges and focus on it for a week or more.
5-Minute Morning and Night Challenge
Dedicate the first 5 and last 5 minutes of your day to remembering your identity as a much loved child of God. Listen to a worship song, read meditate on a Psalm, journal or pray on paper, or do whatever else helps you remember who you are. Do it EVERYDAY for a week.
Go to school on what you believe
Spend a week asking questions and intentionally learning. The Bible Project has a huge collection of short animated videos that explore each book of the Bible, different biblical themes, and much much more. Take some of your questions about God, faith, or anything else and go to school to fill in the gaps in what you believe!
Join a Volunteer Team
Take a week to investigate the different volunteer teams at Mission and pray about the best place for you to jump in. Intentionally serving others is one of the best ways to jumpstart your own spiritual growth.