find this on the web at missionventura.com/sunday-message-facilitator-guide
the group statement
This is something that all of our groups read EVERY time they meet! Guardrails help us have the most helpful and safe discussion possible each time we meet.
Don’t skip it, don’t rush past it. It’s the consistency that reinforces the safety needed for people to share openly and move toward vulnerability.
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.
Life Hacks is all about taking the wisdom that we find in the book of James and applying it to our everyday lives. James was Jesus’ half-brother, and it wasn’t until Jesus’ death and resurrection that James believed that He was really God in the flesh - so it makes sense that we would listen to what he has to say!
Jodi continued the series by talking about what happens next after the trials James leads with. It’s in our trials that we are faced with the temptation to believe that God might not be as good or capable as we thought. But it’s in those trials where we find God waiting for us, providing a way out and a love that reminds us just how valuable we are.
How to use this discussion guide!
These questions are not a checklist!
Don’t be worried about finishing them all or going in order. The questions are starting points that should help you guide the most natural discussion about the message and everyone’s lives.
The best way to guide a natural discussion is to know your way around before you start. Read through the questions so you know what you’ve got in your arsenal during the discussion.
But don’t stop there - the best prep you can do is to have personal responses to the questions before you start. Then you’ll be ready to lead the way or wisely jump around in the guide to keep the flow natural.
Connect with each other
Imagine this: you’re on an elimination diet, you have good motives. You’re a week in - long enough to know you’re definitely committed to it, but not long enough that you like it.
Someone locks you in a room with THAT food - the one food that will break you. What is it?
talking about temptation and sin
Light and breezy topic, right?
On one hand, don’t be afraid of this conversation: there is plenty of room to have a safe and helpful conversation about temptation and sin no matter how long you’ve been meeting. You don’t always have to jump off the high dive - as the facilitator, search for an appropriate middle ground of vulnerability and honesty without revealing our darkest secrets…
On the other hand, don’t sell this conversation short: there is huge potential for closeness that your group might not have uncovered yet. Talking about struggles is great - but it’s all about what is happening TO you. Talking about temptation and sin is a whole new level of intimacy - because it’s talking about what’s happening IN you. And once you go there, your group will experience a whole new level of safety and trust.
Connect with the Message
The world is full of different definitions of temptation - and even though our understanding of it is crucial to having a full life, sometimes we are even muddy on our own definition.
How would you personally define temptation?
How has that definition changed over time, especially if you started following Jesus later in life?
(Read James 1:13-18) How do you think James would define temptation? Does it differ from your definition?
Tempting or testing?
It’e easy in the midst of temptation to believe that God is the one behind it - testing me to see if I’ll trip up. But James challenges this and says that “God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed” (James 1:3b-14).
What’s the danger in seeing temptation as a test from God to see if we’ll be slip up or stay strong?
When we think temptation is from God, what are we saying about who God is and what he is like?
What do you think about James’ thoughts on temptation beginning inside each of us, and not by an external force?
Is temptation a sin?
In 1 Corinthians 10:13, Paul writes “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind.”
Paul and James both reinforce that temptation itself is not a sin - it’s just a sign that we’re normal, broken humans! Why is that such an important place to start when thinking about temptation and sin?
The enemy’s plan
(Read Genesis 3:1:13 for context) James says that we can only endure temptation when we remember that God is the giver of every good and perfect gift comes from God because he we are his prized possession. Because then we can trust him about what he says is good and evil, right and wrong. But our enemy gets us asking 3 questions that can lead to our downfall.
- Did god really say you can’t? that this isn’t best?
- Why would God keep something good from you?
- Is what He’s given you really enough to satisfy you?
Do these questions speak to your experience in temptation?
Which of these questions is hardest for you to answer in the midst of temptation?
shake up the discussion
Splitting Into Groups of 3-4
Especially if you’ve got a lot of people in the room, sometimes making the circle smaller can be an effective way of helping more people share, and letting conversations get a little more personal. It often gives people that extra dose of courage to share in some of the harder questions.
Splitting into Men/Women
If you’ve got a pretty even mix of men and women and at least 3 of each, splitting the genders is one of the biggest boost for safety and vulnerability. Even if you aren’t sure how much extra everyone will open up (you’re probably worried about the men…), a lot of times it’s this extra shot of safety and a leader who’s willing to go there first - you’ll be shocked at what happens with just those two things!
What shame says about you
(Read Genesis 3:1:13 for context) After Adam and Eve eat the fruit, Adam tells God that he heard Him in the garden and hid, because he knew he was naked. Jodi said that when we live in the death that comes from sin, we learn language that God never gave us, just like how Adam suddenly became ashamed that he was naked.
What have you heard shame say about you that God never would?
some examples might be unworthy, unlovable, beyond repair, ugly, unimportant, a disappointment, too far gone…
We also see Adam and Eve jump straight to blaming when confronted by God. What do you usually blame for your own sin?
The way out
Jodi joked that the problem wasn’t that Eve was tempted - it's that when she was, she chose to talk to a snake about it!
Temptation will always be a part of our lives, and the sooner we learn to talk about it with trusted friends, the sooner we’ll find freedom and help. God always provides a way out, and it’s usually that trusted friend. Who is that trusted friend for you?
Who are you that friend for?
read/pray/do is part of your discussion!
Later in chapter 1 of James, he says that when we listen to the truth of God and do nothing about it, it’s the same as looking at a mirror and then immediately forgetting what we look like.
Lots of the questions are geared toward very practical applications of the content - but the READ/PRAY/DO section is designed to encourage the discipline of engaging with the Bible regularly, developing a life of personal prayer, and taking bold steps toward becoming more like Jesus.
READ. PRAY. DO.
Read along during the series!
James’ letter is one of the most jam-packed 5 chapters of wisdom in the entire Bible. It’s full of big concepts about how God created the world and how we can live in it best. During this series, we’re going to work through this dense and important book in several different ways!
Last week, we watched this video overview and read the book straight through to get the full picture of the letter!
THIS WEEK, we’re going to read completely differently! The Bible was written over a couple thousand years in cultures completely different than ours! And it wasn’t written TO us - even though it still speaks to our experience today.
Watch this video below and get an understanding of how much of the Bible is written as “Jewish Meditation Literature”. We spent 2 weeks being taught from James 1 - so this week, as many days as you can, quietly read James 1 out loud to yourself. Don’t worry about getting to the next part. Don’t worry about not making “progress”. Just slow down, soak it in, and see what happens as you focus in consistently on how God might be speaking to you through James’ words.
Pray this prayer on your own, or use it to kickstart your own personal prayer time.
(adapted from Psalm 141)
Father, come quickly to my side - please hear me as soon as I call. Strengthen my prayer, because sometimes all I can muster is a pathetic whisper. I’ve tried to hide for too long, and I’m tired of trying to manage without you. Guard my eyes, shut my mouth, lock my feet in place, and chase after my wandering heart. So much around me is broken, but my broken and sinful heart is the source of so much of my pain. I come to you not as a good man in need of rescue from an enemy - but as an enemy trusting that you are as good and forgiving as you say you are. Save me, change me, and use me to show the world who you are.
Make a “Wisdom Board”
This letter from James is FULL of one-liners and powerful statements about how we can live wisely in a broken world. In the book of Deuteronomy, in the Old Testament, the people of Israel received God’s commandments for the first time - and this is what he said to them:
These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:5-9)
So that’s kind of what we’re going to do! As you read through the book of James and listen to the messages in this series and different things stand out to you, write them down in little, memorable phrases. Keep them on the same page and put them up somewhere visible in your house. Keep coming back to them and start noticing just how often they’re VERY relevant to your everyday life.
Example from James 1:19: quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger