PREPARING FOR YOUR GROUP
Homework: (10-90 minutes)
Familiarize yourself with this Group Study Guide
If you missed it,CLICK HEREto watch the weekend sermon
If a certain quote from the sermon resonated with you, consider posting it to Twitter or Instagram. Here's a sample: We gather in order to learn how to love each other like HE loves us #WhyWeGather #cfchurch
Read John 15:4-17
Sit in prayerful silence with God for a while, and then ask the Holy Spirit if there is anything that He wants to do during your Group's time together.
We have intentionally provided you with way too much content so that you have plenty of material to work with choose the elements that are best suited for your group dynamic, and leave the rest.
Whatever content you choose, follow the order of elements as they appear in this Study Guide there is an intentional progression that is meant to help your group draw near to God.
BEGIN HERE WITH YOUR GROUP
Next Steps for Group Leaders
Throughout this series, this section will have some leadership next steps to implement in the life of your Group.
(Week 4) God is going to call people out of anonymity and into community. Today, initiate a discussion with your group about being the kind of Group that is inviting and welcoming to others. Ask everyone to share what they think they could do to create an inviting and welcoming Group culture.
Setting the Tone: (Say Aloud, 1 minute)
Every time we gather, we'll practice a ground rule, goal, or value as a group.
This Week's Value: One of our values in Community is Inviting & Welcoming Others. In your church experience, what are the different ways that you were invited to join a group? If those different ways felt authentic and effective, how might we do the same kinds of things in this Group?
Focus of this Week's Message: (Say Aloud, 1 minute)
This week, we remembered that one of the reasonswhy we gather is to abide in Jesus; we gather in order to remain in Jesus; and, we gather to be with Jesus. Being with Jesus is different than studying about Jesus. In turn, we gather to learn how to love each other likeHE loves us, to be with and for one another.
Opening Prayer: (Say Aloud, 1 minute)
Pray the following prayer for your Group. Make the words your own.
Dear Jesus, you promised in Matthew 18 that wherever two or three come together in your name, you will be here with us. We thank you for your presence here among us right now. We thank you that we live in a country that we can gather freely in your name. We ask for your guidance, your power, your wisdom, your love, and your peace as we spend this time together as a community. Teach us, Lord, to abide more closely with you. Help us, Lord, to love one another as you have loved us. In your precious and holy name, Amen.
Quick Connection: (Say Aloud, 5 minutes)
Let's have everyone take 30 seconds each to share a phrase or a moment from this weekend's message that is still resonating with them. You also have the option to say "Pass."
Creative Engagement with This Week's Message: (5 minutes)
Here in the East Bay, welive in wine country, where we live within driving distance of many vineyards. One of our texts this week is John 15:4-17, where Jesus uses the metaphor of the Vine and the Branches to illustrate His relationship with the Father, and His relationship with us. We learn that, as we remain in Him, and He in us, we will bear much fruit and will live a life filled with God's love, to His glory.Let's take a look at the the following real life example of a vine and branches:
In Hampton Court near London, there is a grapevine under glass; it is about 1,000 years old and has but one root which is at least two feet thick. Some of the branches are 200 feet long. Because of skillful cutting and pruning, the vine produces several TONS of grapes each year. Even though some of the smaller branches are 200 feet from the main stem, they bear much fruit because they are joined to the vine and allow the life of the vine to flow through them.
How does Jesus'vine and branches image speak to you?
How doesthe image relate to potential and power we have in abiding in Christ?
Questions for Large Group Discussion (30 minutes):
(Prompt the group) Let's all have a Bible open and in front of us as we discuss what God was saying to us from this week's message.
Questions for Basic Understanding:
This part of the group discussion is about gaining a big picture, "lay of the land" view of what's happening in Scripture.
Pastor Steve described how the game of Rugby illustrates ourlives, where we make plans and prepare ourselves as best we know how for life, but in the end, the game is won by constantly adapting and improvising after the plan falls apart. Players rely on each other, constantly calling out "WITH YOU", to make it to the end of the field. The game of life is won by the teammates who work as one. How did this illustration speak toyou?
What kind of groups or teams have you been on? What were some specific things that team made it great, or perhaps not so great?
Who in your life (currently or in the past) is WITH YOU? How do they demonstrate it? How does this affect your life, emotionally and otherwise?
Questions for Listening to Scripture:
This part of the group discussion is about wrestling with the meaning of what Scripture is saying.
Read John 15:1-17
What is the "fruit" Jesus is talking about?
What is at stake, according to Jesus, if we dis-attach from Him / each other? (v.4)
Why does Satan love to use the weapon of isolation? Have you ever experienced a time of being isolated from people who are WITH YOU? How did that affect you?
Looking at what Jesus says inv7-12, what else does Hepromise will happen in / for the abiding group?
Questions for Being Examined by Scripture:
This part of the group discussion is when we ask God how He wants to take these words from the pages of the Story of Scripture, apply them to our hearts and lives, and call us to move on what He is saying to us.
What are some areas in your life that you "remain" in, other than Christ? Are any of these areas out of balance with how you remain in Christ?
What are some action steps you can take to remain closer to Jesus in the next four weeks?
What are some action steps we can take as a group to demonstrate that we are WITH each other, and encourage each other to remain closer to Jesus?
Closing Prayer (15 minutes):
If your Group is newly formed, it's probably best that you are the one who prays. If this time of prayer requires some vulnerability or transparency, be the first to pray so that you set a tone of honesty for everyone else.
As you close in prayer, remind each other to stay close to Jesus when you are apart. Perhaps everyone could specificallypray that very thing for the person on your right as yougo around the circle.