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: Every time we gather together we are ushering into our present glimpses of our future – our hope for home. #WhyWeGather #cfchurch
- Read Revelation 21:1-7
- 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.
God is going to call your Group to make space so that disconnected people can be connected. Ask everyone 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. Ask everyone to name some specific ways that your Group could be a blessing to someone who isn't connected in Community yet.
Setting the Tone: (Say Aloud, 1 minute)
(This Week's Goal): One of our values at Cornerstone is Care, because people need hope, help, and healing. What kinds of things can this group be doing on a regular basis so that everyone in this group knows that they can be real about their pain, doubts, and struggles?
Focus of this Week's Message: (Say Aloud, 1 minute)
This week we studied why we gather out of Revelation 21, and learned how community will not end when we arrive in heaven. We will be with Christ and other believers in community in heaven, free of pain, chaos, loss and fear, and we gather here on earth to support each other, to remind ourselves of "hope of home", and encourage each other to live in that hope now.
Opening Prayer: (Say Aloud, 1 minute)
Pray the following prayer for your Group. Make the words your own.
(Pray Aloud) "Dear heavenly Father, we thank you for giving us a glimpse of what heaven will be like in Your Word. Thank you for saving us, redeeming us, and giving us a hope for the future. Thank you that can gather together right now in community and dream of our future together in heaven with YOU. We thank you that we will be together for all of eternity. You are amazing. Amen."
Quick Connection: (Say Aloud, 5 minutes)
As we are wrapping up our "Why We Gather" series, let's go around the room and each answer the question: based on what God has been saying to you through this series, what is your next step as you follow Jesus?
Creative Engagement with This Week's Message: (8-10 minutes)
Notes: This section is a few minutes longer than usual. If you choose to use this creative section, you can do one or both of the ideas.
OPTION 1: Reading & Discussion
Read aloud the excerpt below from Don Piper, describing his visit to heaven, and then discuss.
This past weekend we learned some images from Revelation about heaven. Music is a powerful element in our lives here on earth, and will continue to be when we get to heaven.
Don Piper, in his book 90 Minutes in Heaven, describes what he heard and saw in heaven when he was clinically dead for 90 minutes after being crushed in a car accident. This is what he shares about the music:
Even today, the single, most vivid memory I have of my entire heavenly experience is what I call the music, but it was different from anything I had ever heard or expect to hear on earth. The melodies of praise filled the atmosphere. The nonstop intensity and endless variety overwhelmed me. The praise was unending, but the most remarkable thing to me was that hundreds of songs were being sung at the same time all of themworshipingGod. As I approached the large, magnificent gate, I heard them from every direction and realized that each voice praised God. I write voice, but it was more than that. Some sounded instrumental, but I wasn't sure and I wasn't concerned. Praise was everywhere, and all of it was musical, yet comprised of melodies and tones I'd never experienced before.
"Hallelujah! Praise! Glory to God! Praise to the King!" Such words rang out in the midst of all the music. I don't know if the angels were singing them or if they came from humans. I felt so awestruck, so caught up in the heavenly mood that I didn't look around. My heart filled with the deepest joy I've ever experienced.
. . . I heard old hymns and choruses along with hundreds of songs I had never heard before. Hymns of praise, modern sounding choruses, and ancient chants filled my ears and brought not only a deep peace but the greatest feeling of joy I've ever experienced. I later realized that I didn't hear such songs as "The Old Rugged Cross" or "The Nail-Scarred Hand." None of the hymns that filled the air were about Jesus' sacrifice or death. I heard no sad songs and instinctively knew that there are no sad songs in heaven. Why would there be? All were praises about Christ's reign as King of Kings, and our joyful worship for all he has done for us and how wonderful he is.
. . . I would have expected the most memorable experience of my time in heaven to be something I had seen or the physical embrace of a loved one. Yet above everything else, I cherish those sounds and at times I think: I can't wait to hear them again, in person. It's what I look forward to. I want to hear those continuous songs of praise. (Piper, pages 30-33)
Brothers and Sisters, when today weighs you down… When all you hear is discouraging words, harsh yelling, or even profanity . . . close your eyes and imagine the music of heaven. Praise and worship for our God. Unlike any music you'll ever hear on this earth. This is what awaits each one of us as we anticipate the wedding banquet God is preparing for us, his children.
OPTION 2: Reading & Discussion
Watch (or listen) to Revelation Song. It would be great to worship together by singing along.
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.
- When we have Christ, we have HOPE. How is the hope we have in God different than how our culture uses the word "hope?"
- Share a time in your life that you were far from home and what it was like to hope for home.
- Do you regularly find yourself living/thinking in the past, present, or future?
Questions for Listening to Scripture:
This part of the group discussion is about wrestling with the meaning of what Scripture is saying.
- What is your picture of the future?
- Read Revelation 21:1-7. What are some images in the text that jump out at you, and why?
- How does reading this actual picture of the future change your thoughts about the future?
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.
- (Rev. 21:3-4) What does this passage show us about community in heaven?
- How does having a true "hope for home" change our lives here, since the current circumstances in our families, our neighborhoods, our country and our world may or may not change? (Hebrews 6:19)
- (Rev. 21:5) In our future home, all that is broken will be made new. What are some broken things that you know only God could restore? How does this give you a greater, or perhaps new, hope?
- How can we practice for our future in the present? How can we practice this as a community?
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.
Dear God, we love you. We thank you that we have so much to hope for! When we start to sink under the weight of brokenness and chaos in our lives, help us to with true hope as an anchor for our souls. Help us to remind each other that we have a future in heaven with you and with each other. We thank you for giving us this precious gift. In Jesus' powerful name, Amen.