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.
Fathers Day is a special day, but it’s not always the easiest. Some have a present and loving father, but some have lost a father to disinterest, dysfunction, divorce, or death. But no matter what our story is, we have the opportunity to be loved and accepted by a heavenly father that has promised to never forsake, leave, or abandon us.
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.
split men and women - consider it more than a suggestion
This is the moment to split. Even if it’s 2-3 per gender. It doesn’t even have to be the regular amount of time that you’d spend, if you can’t fill the space. But my thought is… you will!
Splitting into genders will unlock a whole new level of understanding between each other. It will create immediate transparency around this incredibly sensitive topic.
Don’t miss the opportunity to create powerful “me too” moments and care for each other well.
CONNECT WITH EACH OTHER
*** Men and women usually have unique challenges when it comes to their relationships with their fathers. For this discussion, we’d highly encourage splitting up into groups of men and women in order to talk more freely and understand each other more simply. ***
Fathers Day comes loaded with lots of different emotions for different people. What kind of a holiday is it for you?
Don’t expect too much ground in this convo
This is quite a big topic… and we’re only in it for the week! Don’t walk into the conversation expecting people’s hearts to change in a moment, everyone to share all their junk, and commit to mending broken relationships in the next week!
Not that it can’t happen… but this is a deep wound for many people - whether they’ve admitted that or not. And it’s not something that’s probably just a matter of simple obedience and “fixing it”. It’s much more complex and emotionally wrought than that.
So if anything, this is about uncovering important information about each other’s spiritual state.
Walk in with the right expectations, and expect that the ongoing work with your people AFTER this conversation will be the real journey to focus on!
Many of us have missed out on that foundational acceptance and blessing of our father, whether from death, dysfunction, divorce, disinterest, or whatever else.
What’s your relationship with your dad like? What kind of effect has that relationship had on you?
What kind of faith have you inherited from your dad? How has your dad influenced your relationship with God, either positively or negatively?
CONNECT WITH THE MESSAGE
Hardwired for a dad’s love
Louie said we are all hardwired to need a father’s approval, blessing, participation, and affection. And when kids don’t have that, the research is showing it can lead to lack of confidence or self-identity, aimlessness, anger, conflict, and emotional instability.
How can you see the effects of fatherlessness on people around you or the world close to you?
Have you ever heard (or thought), “If God is anything like MY father, I don’t want anything to do with him…”? Why do you think that is such a common connection that we make?
For all of us, there is some kind of a gap between what we needed from our father and what we actually got. We all have two choices for how to deal with the gap: fake it or face it.
Have you had any experience faking that you’re okay with the gap between what your dad gave you and what you needed? Or have you had experience facing it?
Is there something you need to do now to face that gap? Do you need to either move toward your dad or toward someone that could help you navigate the effects of that gap?
Jesus on the cross
Psalm 27:10 says “Even though my mother and father forsake me, the Lord will receive me.” While on the cross, Jesus cries out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus became sin for us and experienced the separation from his heavenly father that we deserved SO THAT we would know, for certain, that God would never leave or forsake us.
We all struggle to believe or remember that God will never forsake us - especially when our circumstances seem to tell a much different story. When has it been hardest for you to trust that God is with you in the midst of a challenging or painful season?
Not about heaven, all about our heavenly father
Louie said that the good news of Jesus isn’t about getting you into heaven - it’s about getting you to your heavenly father.
How does this challenge or affirm your understanding of the good news of Jesus?
How does this idea inform your priorities when it comes to following Jesus in your everyday life?
Breaking the cycle
Louis encouraged us to remember that our fathers are also someone’s son, so that we can approach them with more compassion and empathy. My fathers is a product of his upbringing just as I am a product of mine. And normally, the cycle goes on until it’s broken.
What negative cycles or tendencies have you seen throughout your family history? Are you finding yourself continuing any of those cycles? Even the ones you wanted to avoid?
Our heavenly father wants to make us cycle-breakers, transforming us into better images of himself, free of what’s been handed to us. What cycles do you need God to break in your life?
What’s your one next tangible step toward that new life God wants for you? What help do you need?