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 so the lost can become found, and so the found can remember who they are. #WhyWeGather #cfchurch
- Read Luke 15:11-32
- 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 8) God is going to call your Group to make space so that disconnected people can be connected. Ask everyone in your Group to be candid about who enjoys the process of adding new people, and who has a harder time with that because of the change that a new person brings to the Group dynamic. Be sure to validate any concerns and affirm good moments from the past. PRO TIP: You might have an easier time welcoming people to your Group if you first invite them to a fun group hangout like a restaurant or a game night. Would your Group consider taking a break from the norm every 4-6 weeks to do that? That way, when new people have met everyone at a fun night, it makes it a whole lot easier to connect the next time you get together for your usual gatherings.
Setting the Tone: (Say Aloud, 1 minute)
Every time we gather, we'll practice a ground rule, goal, or value as a group.
One of our values at Cornerstone is Outreach, because we want to reach people who are far from God. Ask your Group if anyone would need help in pulling off a fun block party with their neighbors, or treating their coworkers to a great lunch or snacks in the break room at their office?
Focus of this Week's Message: (Say Aloud, 1 minute)
Jesus came to reveal the heart of God our Father so that we could know that He isn't a Divine Scorekeeper, but a Father who runs after us. When we gather – both in rows and circles it could be an environment that changes peoples' image of God; from a God whose love they have to earn, to a God whorunsafter us.
Opening Prayer: (Say Aloud, 1 minute)
This is a prayer from a Christian who lived long ago; let's ask God the Father to show us and remind us what He is really like.
It is only right, with all the powers of our heart and mind, to praise You Father, and Your Only-Begotten Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Dear Father, by Your wondrous condescension of Loving-Kindness toward us, Your servants, You gave up Your Son.
Dear Jesus, You paid the debt of Adam by Your Blood – poured forth in Loving-Kindness.
You cleared away the darkness of sin by Your magnificent and radiant Resurrection.
You broke the bonds of death and rose from the grave as a Conqueror.
You reconciled Heaven and earth.
Our life had no hope of Eternal Happiness before You redeemed us.
Your Resurrection has washed away our sins, restored our innocence and brought us joy.
How inestimable is the tenderness of Your Love!
We pray You, Lord, to preserve Your servants in the peaceful enjoyment of this happiness.
We ask this through Jesus Christ Our Lord, Who lives and reigns with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, forever and ever.
– PopeGregory I (Gregory the Great)
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: (Say Aloud, 5 minutes)
Let's look at the Prodigal Son story from a different angle. In the movie Blood Diamond (2006), we experience a fictional retelling of the civil war that happened in the diamond-rich African nation of Sierra Leone. One of the great evils of this war was its effect on children. Warlords made it their practice to kidnap and brainwash young boys and recruit them as child soldiers.
In the film, one of these child soldiers is a boy named Dia, who was kidnapped as a boy, and now lives as a gun-toting teenager. Leading up to the climactic moment in the story, Dia's father Solomon, and a diamond smuggler named Danny Archer have been searching for Dia, when they uncover a priceless diamond. As they are digging up the diamond, Dia finds them. At this moment, Solomon looks up and recognizes his long-lost son.
Watch the clip by clicking here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRWve1dr2JI (2 minutes)
How does this clip speak to you about God the Father's heart for you, and for others?
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.
- (Read Luke 15:1-3) Who was Jesus spending his time with?
- How did the religious leaders of the day react to the people in Jesus' life?
- (From Luke 15:11-32) As a group, let's piece together the key moments of the Prodigal Son story; what happened from start-to-finish?
Questions for Listening to Scripture:
This part of the group discussion is about wrestling with the meaning of what Scripture is saying.
- (From Luke 15:1-3) Knowing that Jesus spent time with people who were rejected and scorned by others, why do you think this prompted Jesus to tell 3 stories about things and people that were lost and found?
- (From Luke 15:20-24) Look at the words that describe the heart and actions and words of the father. Knowing that the father in Jesus' story is a picture of God,how is Jesus wanting to correct false and harmful views of what God the Father is like?
- (From Luke 15:25-32) Look at the words that describe the heart and actions and words of the older brother. Knowing that this story was prompted people who were grumbling about the people in Jesus' company, how is Jesus correcting them by writing them into his story as the older brother character?
- How did BOTH the younger and older brothers in Jesus' story need to gain a new understanding of their father's heart?
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.
- How do you need God the Father to change your picture of who He is, so that it is LESS like the youngerbrother's picture, LESS like the olderbrother's picture, and MORE like the father in Jesus' story?
- Who in our life needs to know that our God runs after people who are far from him? What about your words and actions could demonstrate the Father's heart to them?
- We gather so that the lost can be found, and so the found can remember who they are. Today, does your present circle of friends include the people that Jesus went after? What is God saying to you about that?
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.
John 1:18 says, "No one has ever seen God,but the one and only Son, who is himself God andis in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known." As a group, prayerfully remind yourselves of how Jesus shows us what God is like, and spend time around those examples and images. Name any ways in which you have a false understanding of what God is like, and ask God to transform your picture of Him to the true image.