When we gather as a group, these are some ways we ensure the best group discussion:
We make the circle safe by staying honest and transparent - leave the masks at the door.
We keep it inside the circle. Each person’s story is theirs alone to share.
We look to the Bible for wisdom and truth, and work together to let it shape how we see the world.
We don’t try to fix each other in front of each other or give unsolicited advice. We lovingly save hard conversations for private moments.
We respect each others’ time by starting and ending when we say we will.
We believe that in Jesus Christ, there is hope for everyone.
Everyone has a different picture come to mind when they hear “Church People.” And honestly... most of those pictures aren’t very good. People see opinions, judgement, buildings, politics, and organizations... but Jesus had a completely different idea when He established the church. He envisioned called out, rescued people joining the mission of God to bring redemption of hope to everyone in His world. And it’s time we all got back to being the church instead of just going to one.
Mike finished the series by talking about the war that rages on inside us all as we start wanting to become more like Jesus. That war can only be won by surrendering to God and admitting that we can’t win it ourselves!
Remember, the questions are not a checklist to be completed, or in the perfect order! They’re simply guardrails to help you have a natural discussion about what we learned on Sunday.
CONNECT WITH EACH OTHER
What has been most impactful for you over the course of this series? What kind of church person has it made you want to be?
Jesus came to give his life FOR us and TO us: we need as much grace to be changed today as we needed to be rescued.
What is the world around you telling you success should look like?
How does that picture of success align (or NOT align) with what you know of the life that Jesus had and wants to give us?
CONNECT WITH THE MESSAGE
Our goal isn’t to just white-knuckle our way to acting more like Jesus. We want to become the kind of people who naturally do what Jesus would do . And that process is handcrafted not mass-produced, all about progress not perfection, grace-driven not guilt-driven, and focused on transformation not behavior modification.
How do those ground rules challenge how you normally view or approach spiritual growth in yourself and the people around you?
I do want to do what I don’t want to do…
Read Romans 7: 14-25 together.
Can you relate to the struggle Paul is talking about here?
How do you react when this struggle that Paul explains is at full force inside you?
To give some examples…
The effect of this battle between the Spirit and the flesh inside of us is actually not the easiest thing to articulate for everyone, so here are some examples you may want to throw out to start the conversation:
I feel like I’m doing something wrong and I’ve got
I feel alone because it doesn’t look like others are struggling like me.
After all He’s done for me, I feel like God is disappointed because I can’t fix this.
The most important thing to get to at this part of the conversation is a “me too” moment. EVERYONE experiences this battle, whether they know it or not. But when we think we’re alone in it, we can never move forward.
So help everyone get on the same page and nod along with each other, so you can have the freedom to talk about the rest of the questions from the same starting point.
Arrange your days
Mike quoted Dallas Willard when talking about how to start living by the Spirit instead of the flesh, like Paul talks about in Romans 7. He says we must “Arrange (our) days so that (we) are experiencing deep contentment, joy, and confidence in (our) everyday life with God.”
How much deep contentment, joy, and confidence are you experiencing in your everyday life with God right now?
What do you think arranging your day has to do with this? How might that be a key to living by the Spirit instead of the flesh?
don’t just say “quiet time”
If you’ve been around church for any time, you’ve heard the phrase “quiet time”. It’s Christianese for a daily time spent reading the Bible and/or in prayer. First of all, that is by NO means a bad thing - in fact, it’s a fantastic thing!
But the answer to living by the Spirit isn’t found in a quiet time. Plenty of people spend 20 minutes in the morning reading the Bible or praying, but then go on to run themselves ragged physically, emotionally, and spiritually the rest of the day, living with none of the deep contentment, joy, or confidence we’re all after.
Challenge everyone to look at the big picture. Not just the 30 minutes you think you need to add, but the draining weekly commitment that frustrates you for no real gain.
The people that you’re looking to for comfort and advice, but are always negative and cynical and couldn’t care less about what God has to say.
The fact that you haven’t been on vacation in forever and you’re dead-tired after running at full speed for too long.
Look at the habits that you’re in and the time you spend escaping from reality, that could be spent “setting your mind on things above.”
When you look at the big picture and get honest about where your time and attention are going, it’s actually pretty simple to see why you’re not living with deep contentment, joy, or confidence.
If you want God to show up in your life, you probably should make some space for him to do so.
And if you want to hear from Him, you might want to turn down the volume on everything else blaring at you all day long.
I cannot but God, you can
Earlier in the letter to the Galatians, which Mike talked about quite a bit, Paul says to the people in Galatia, “How foolish can you be? After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?” The whole Christian life can be summed up with the phrase, “I CANNOT BUT GOD, YOU CAN”.
If you’ve experienced it, what has this kind of surrender looked like tangibly in your life?
When you’ve tried to surrender to God and live in his power, what has happened to your faith, your life, or your decisions?
Fruit of the spirit
Read Galatians 5:16-23 together.
Paul says all these character traits are the “Fruit” of the Spirit because it’s all about the source. It’s easy for us to think the source of our life change is my own effort, discipline, circumstance, upbringing, or church attendance.
What do you fill in that gap instead of “Spirit”? When you’re not relying on God to change your heart, what do you trust in?
***things like those above - effort, discipline, circumstance, upbringing, church attendance… etc***
God shows up when we are at our weakest point - that’s when He gives us strength. When we are ready to lay down the terrible burden of running our own lives, He’s ready to work in us. How can you lay down that burden in a tangible way this week? What would it look like to display your weakness to God or trust God instead of the things that we rely on more than Him?
Church people prayer
Mike challenged us all to pray this prayer regularly and watch what happens: “Today Lord I'm trusting your Spirit to produce in me: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. I can’t produce these on my own; I'm trusting you to empower me.”
What do you think is going to stand in your way of doing this?
How can we help each other focus on this whole big idea of living by the Spirit this week and on?
READ. PRAY. DO.
Read 1 Corinthians 13.
1 Corinthians is all about what love looks like when it’s lived out. As we focus on becoming more like Jesus, use 1 Corinthians 13 to give you examples of how that might look in everyday life!
Pray this prayer on your own, or use it to kickstart your own personal prayer time.
Adapted from Romans 7-8
Father, there is a war inside me. I’ve spent too long in sin’s prison. I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself, as hard as I try. I need something more! I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope.
But there is an answer, thank God! Jesus acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different. Jesus has saved me from this body of death that I feel trapped in!
Jesus, you personally took on MY human condition, entered my disordered mess and struggle in order to set it right once and for all. My best efforts never came close. So instead of redoubling my own efforts, help me simply embrace what your Spirit is doing in me, changing me from the inside out. Let “I can’t, but God you can” be my mantra each day.
Write down your own story of grace.
Writing down your story will help you spend time reflecting on what God has done for you and how He’s changed you. Think through what your life was like before He rescued you, and how He paved the way for grace to show up in your life.