>>> LEADER TIP: another reason to begin with silence
Begin with 1-5 minutes of silence followed by a brief prayer to center ourselves towards God and to prepare us to listen to Him. Meditation and mindfulness are popular right now. There was even a front cover story on the topic on TIME magazine this week so this practice may be more familiar to your group members than you think. Beginning in silence will get easier with practice. Groups are reporting that this centering exercise is helping them stay on topic once their hearts and minds are centered on God. Try it!
We read this statement together before every group discussion. It helps transition the group to discussion time, it reaffirms our highest values, and sets a tone of trust, consistency, and safety for everyone in the group.
We are a group of imperfect people pursuing a perfect God. We exist to help each other find and follow Christ. 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.
Who is the happiest person you know?
For homework last week we read chapter three titled “God is Trustworthy” and our soul training exercise was counting our blessings. James Bryan Smith wrote about a time he and his young son were on a rollercoaster that he found terrifying but his son found fun. When he asked his son why he wasn’t scared, he beamed and said, “Because I was with you dad, and I trust you.” The primary focus of the chapter was that we can trust God because Jesus trusted God- even as he entered into his suffering on the cross.
The soul training exercise was to make a list of all of the things God has blessed with you with, starting with ten and adding to it every day.
- What, if anything, did you learn about God or yourself through the exercises?
What were some of the things that made your list that surprised you? Why?
What similarities do you notice between everyone’s lists?
Pose as many questions of the following questions as you have time for, don’t feel like you have to get to them all.
Turn to page 56. How would you describe your trust level when it comes to God? Have things happened to you that made you doubt that God is trustworthy?
On page 58, What does Jesus’ use of the word Abba tell us about his relationship with God the father?
Page 59, How would you respond to a person who says, “I have trouble calling God ‘Father’ because my biological father was not very good”?
On page 62, Of the six aspects of the nature of God the Father (present, pure, powerful, provides, pardons, protects) as seen in the Lord’s Prayer, which do you most need to see and understand about God?
On page 64, What is your “cup”? How have you dealt with it? What did you learn about God or yourself through that experience?
Turn to page 68, Did George Buttick’s blot illustration ring true for you? How might you begin shifting your attention away from the negative and onto the positive?
- Chapter 4: "God is Generous."
Soul Training: Praying Psalm 23 (pages 90-92)
Psalm 23 is the perfect chapter of the Bible to meditate on as we let God’s comfort, peace, control and trustworthiness wash over our hearts and minds.
What can we be praying for you this week? What are some things for which we can thank our trustworthy God?