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Discussion Guide: Name it and claim it

Discussion Guide: Name it and claim it

Welcome to another night of Community Groups! Please lean into this guide as much as you need to; use this as a tool to help facilitate fruitful conversation, but please do not let this become a script if you do not need it to be. You know your group better than I do! The goal for this evening is to explore the lostness of the older brother, and to wrestle with he ways in which he is more lost than his more famous, wayward sibling. If you can arrive at that destination with your group more efficiently with different questions, please feel free to simply use these as inspiration!  

 

 

 

Icebreaker

 

Do you remember your first prayer? What was it?

 

 

 

Scripture Reading

 

Read John 14:14

 

 

 

Discussion Questions

 

 

  1. Have you ever heard of the idea of, “Name it and claim it”? How might passages like this one contribute to that idea?
  2. Zoom out a little and read verses 12-15. Why do you think Jesus says that whoever believes in him will do greater works than him (v.12), and whoever loves him will keep his commandments (v.15)?
  3. During Jesus’n last meal with his disciples, He told them 5 times that he would do whatever they ask in his name. Knowing that he was going to his death, why might Jesus have thought this was worth saying five times? 
  4. What do you think it means to ask for something “In Jesus name”?

     

    Read Isaiah 1:13-17

    Consider this quote from Philip Yancey

    “Thus God flatly declares that, in addition to our private spiritual state, our social concern (or lack thereof)–for the poor, for orphans and widows–also has a direct bearing on how our prayers are received. Other prophets, such as Malachi, get even more specific. Those who pay exploitative wages, who break marriage vows, who treat illegal immigrants badly, who refuse to share food with the hungry or provide shelter to the homeless, risk closing God’s ears to their prayers.”

    1. Do you agree or disagree? Why?
    2. Do you think that our actions have a bearing on whether or not our prayers get answered? Explain?
    3. How might our belief in Jesus and our love for him influence our prayer life?
    4. How might we better understand prayers that do and do not get answered in light of this passage? 

     

 

Helpful Resources

 

 

 

 

The Reunion Team

Discussion Guide: National Repentance

Discussion Guide: National Repentance

Sometimes  we fill in what we think the Bible is saying or should say with information we bring to the reading.  We take passages out of context and end up making the bible say something it never was intended to say. Like Autocorrect, this can lead to some embarrassing conversations, but it can also have more serious consequences.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Icebreaker 

 

When is the last time your Autocorrect led to an embarrassing text message?

 

Scripture Reading

 

2 Chronicles 7:11-16.

 

Discussion Questions

 

  1. Read verse 14 by itself. How have you heard this passage interpreted before?

 

Consider the following quote:

 

If America is found anywhere in the Bible, it is by analogy. And we are not the hero of the story.
We are Rome.
The Roman world had a policy of “Make Rome Great Again”–or perhaps better “Keep Rome Great Always”–and that vision was supported by the always unhealthy alliance of “God and Country.”
To serve the state was to serve the gods and vice-versa.
Rome put before the early Christians the choice of serving Caesar rather than Christ. To choose to serve Caesar was not simply a political decision but a religious one.
It’s no different today.
Even when serving Christ by name, if that service is for the furtherance of political power, of controlling others, of building an alluring city of man and calling it the City of God—when America does that, America is Rome.
When Americans claim divine support by rifling through Scripture and place themselves in that story, that is a Roman tactic.
It is not a move of “seeking God’s face” but of turning away from it.
It is not a “turning from wickedness” but of dwelling in it.
It is not following the Christ but marching resolutely in the opposite direction.”

 

 -Pete Enns

 

 

  1. Who is God responding to? Who does he address?
  2. What is the impact of inserting America into passages like this one? How could this be damaging? What would we miss out on?
  3. What is the impact of interpreting this passage through a lens of individualism? How could this be damaging? What would we miss out on? 
  4. What can we and should we take from what God had to say to Solomon and the nation of Israel?

 

 

Helpful Resources

 

 The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb: Searching for Jesus’ Path of Power in a Church that Has Abandoned It

 

 

 

The Reunion Team

Community Groups: Pure Religion?

Community Groups: Pure Religion?

Welcome to another Community Group discussion! Please lean into this guide as much as you need to; use this as a tool to help facilitate fruitful conversation, but please do not let this become a script if you do not need it to be. You know your group better than I do! The goal for this evening is to explore the nature of what James calls pure religion. If you can arrive at that destination with your group more efficiently with different questions, please feel free to simply use these as inspiration!

 

Icebreaker

What do you think of when you hear the word, “Religion”?

 

Scripture Reading

Read James 1:27

 

“PURE AND UNDEFILED”

James begins by using words like “pure” and “undefiled”. Other translations might use the words “faultless”, “unblemished” or “spotless”. Whatever the words, James is describing something for us here. So, while commonly referred to as a “command” to care for orphans, James 1:27 is in fact NOT a command verse, it’s a descriptive verse. There’s no command language in this verse. Instead, this verse is describing something that is pure and undefiled in its application and expression. Interesting fact – the Greek word for “pure” is translated “catharsis” in English, meaning “cleansing”. This is the root from which our word “cathartic” is derived. This refers to an activity or practice which is psychologically or emotionally relieving or cleansing for us. It’s also the same root we get our word “catheter” from – a tube inserted into the body to drain toxic or potentially dangerous fluids. So there’s something pure and cleansing about what James is describingnot commandingWe can begin paraphrasing James 1:27 with this statement: One of the purest and most undefiled…

  1. What about caring for vulnerable people in times of need might be “pure and cleansing”?
  2. Before reading the next section: What words or ideas come to mind when you hear the word religion?

     

    “RELIGION”

    When we think of the word religion we think of a variety of things – steeples, rituals or being scolded as a kid for taking too many crackers from the communion tray! But the word “religion” here, in its most distilled down form, refers to an outward expression of faith, or a demonstration of something that is inwardly true. It is describing a “pure and undefiled” outward expression or demonstration of something that is inwardly true – namely of who God is and what God does. Martin Luther once said that “The world does not need a definition of religion as much as it needs a demonstration.” That’s pretty much the idea here, and the context of the whole book of James – a poignant call to put our faith in the gospel into action. Perhaps he is suggesting that there is a particular outward expression of the gospel which is one of the “cleanest”, purest and most vivid we could participate in. And not only is it pure in its demonstration, but perhaps it’s also cleansing to us in its application. Participating in it somehow cleanses us as well. Again, he’s not so much commanding us to do something as much as he is inviting us to be something – the kind of people who have been so deeply and intrinsically effected by the gospel within us that it begins to express itself in some pure and vivid and clear ways through us. At this point we can paraphrase James 1:27 to read: One of the purest and most undefiled demonstrations of the gospel is…

  1. If your definition of “religion” is “a demonstration of something that is inwardly true”, how does that change your attitude toward the word? Do you agree with that definition? How would you change it?
  2. In what ways is fostering/adopting a demonstration of who God is and what God does?
  3. Can you name anyone who “is the kind of person who has been so deeply and intrinsically effected by the gospel” that it is expressed in pure, vivid and clear ways through their lives? If so, what characterizes their life OR if not, what do you imagine it would look like?

 

“CARE FOR”

Many translations use the words “look after” here, which is important to address because sometimes when we “look after” something or someone we’re able to still maintain a sense of distance between us – like when I was a kid and my mom would ask me to “look after” my little brother and sister. I would maintain an awareness of their presence but certainly didn’t want to get involved with what they were doing! So “look after” isn’t the best connotation here. The essence of the language here however is best translated “to give intense attention to and to go see”. The tense of this word calls for this to be our habitual practice and attitude and not just an isolated act of do-goodism or charity. It’s less about what we do periodically and more about who we are consistently. It conveys far more than just stopping by and saying hello, but instead implies a sense of consistent closeness and nearness and personal contact. Some translations use the word “visit”, which is strong. In scripture it is often used in reference to visiting the sick. Luke 1:68 uses the same word to describe the redemptive work of Jesus on our behalf when it says, “Blessed be the Lord God…for He has visited (cared for) us and accomplished great redemption for His people…” He came near, wrapped Himself up in our brokenness and was broken by our brokenness so we don’t have to be broken anymore. In the gospel God says, “I see you where you are and I’m coming after you!” Perhaps James is suggesting that this gospel is most acutely and purely put on display when we echo that same sentiment with our lives to those around us. At this point we can add to the paraphrase of James 1:27 to now read: One of the purest and most undefiled demonstrations of the gospel is to move towards…

  1. Why is it so important that we foster/engage foster care as a “habitual practice and attitude” rather than an act of do-goodism or charity?
  2. In relation to God, in what ways is our personal story similar to children living in foster care? What about birth families? 

 

“ORPHANS AND WIDOWS”

Remember, this is a descriptive verse. James is describing something for us, and in so doing is not being prescriptive, but descriptive. Orphans and widows – the fatherless and the husbandless – easily represented two of the most marginalized and pushed-aside classes of people in James’ culture. They carried no legacy and contributed nothing to society, so society pushed them away. James is using them as representatives of the most marginalized, disenfranchised and vulnerable groups of people we can come in contact with. I don’t believe he’s being prescriptive – as if its orphans and widows ONLY. I believe he’s being descriptive, so if we were to say, “But James, what about victims of trafficking, the homeless, the under-resourced in our city, the parents in crisis and on the brink of losing their children or my struggling neighbor across the street?”, he would not say, “NO! It’s orphans and widows ONLY!” Instead, I believe he would say, “YES! That’s where we go! Those are our people!” In essence he’s suggesting that we become the kind of people who move towards, give intense attention to and visit those in our world who have been outcast, marginalized and pushed aside the most. And when we do – when we step towards the hard and broken, and not away – it puts the heart of God demonstrated in the gospel on display with a vividness and clarity and purity and cleanliness unlike anything else. Your friends or family or co-workers might look at you and wonder why you’re so boldly going against the status quo of avoiding and isolating yourself from hard and broken things and instead choosing to say, “I see you where you are and I’m coming after you!” They’ll wonder why, and you’ll have a great answer to that question – ultimately because of what Jesus has done for me.

Now we can add even further to the paraphrase of James 1:27 so it reads: One of the purest and most undefiled demonstrations of the gospel is to move towards hard places and broken people, not away from them.

  1. In what ways are children living in foster care marginalized, disenfranchised and vulnerable?
  2. In your opinion, what other people groups have been outcast, marginalized and pushed aside in our world? Has the Church been known for “moving towards” these groups?
  3. In what ways, either personally or as a society, do we avoid and isolate from hard and broken things?
  4. What would it mean to see hard and broken in our lives and step towards/come after those people and places?

 

“KEEP ONESELF UNSTAINED”

We tend to neglect this portion of the passage in our foster care, adoption and caring for families discussion. Probably because we’re not entirely sure what the connection is and how it ties in. But I think it’s clear now…our participation in this work – and even more than that, our becoming these kind of people in the gospel – is “cleansing”. It puts a clean, unadulterated picture of the gospel on display, but it cleanses us as well. Who has time or energy to be stained by and consumed with the affairs of this world when we’re so immersed in and stained by the brokenness of others? It changes our perspectives, our worldviews, our hopes and dreams and prayers and families. It changes everything – for the better. And we’re somehow “cleaner” for it.

I know stuff like this gets a little academic and cerebral. But sometimes that’s necessary to truly deconstruct it a bit in order to renovate our understanding and application of some things that are truly important. I hope, in the end, as we’ve rebuilt this profound passage of scripture we’re all acutely familiar with that you’ve seen it in a new, more beautiful and vivid light. OF COURSE foster care, adoption and caring for families is a direct and beautiful application of this passage – but we now also see the opportunity for there to be an endless array of expressions and demonstrations of this beyond just that!

 I’m grateful to be stumbling along with you as we together figure out how not just to “do” James 1:27, but to “be” it – in the lives of kids and families we are loving and serving, and beyond.

 

  1. Do you have a different perspective about the end of this verse (and to keep oneself unstained by the world) after reading the above paragraphs? In what ways?
  2. Have you ever been connected to someone who represented a marginalized/ neglected/ vulnerable group of people and in a way that has changed the way you thought about policy, issues or stereotypes around those groups?
  3. In what ways, if any, have the conversation that began in the gatherings at REUNION and the conversation tonight/today, begun to reframe the way you think about foster care and adoption?
  4. Are there any insights or ideas that have been particularly meaningful to you?

     

    Helpful Resources

  • Foster Care Informational Session – Sunday, Oct. 6th – 2-4pm, REUNION Offices – For those considering foster care or adoption and interested in learning more about the licensing process and journey of foster care.
  • Finding Your Fit in Foster Care – Saturday, Nov. 2nd – Not everyone can our should foster or adopt, but everyone can do something. Finding your fit is a place to consider ways that you can love and serve the foster care community if you are not called or able to foster right now.
  • Becoming Trauma-Informed – Sunday, Nov. 17th – Children living in foster care almost always come with backgrounds of complex trauma. Understand the impact of complex trauma on child development, grow in compassion for their stories and be equipped with tools to help them continue on their path toward healing.
The Reunion Team

Register for the Marriage Retreat

Register for the Marriage Retreat

WHY COME?

Building into your marriage is not something that needs to happen once you’re having problems. We all need spaces to reflect, to challenge, to be honest and to grow in our relationships. If we don’t have those spaces, that’s when our marriages begin to fail. We’ll talk about how to thrive in our relationships and there will be a special breakout for parenting in the city!

Whether you are engaged, thinking about marriage, been married for 50 years or just got married last week, we want to invite you to come to our marriage retreat! 

The 2019 REUNION Marriage Retreat will be on Saturday, October 26th, from 9:00am to 4:30pm. This year’s speakers are Russ and Ginger Smith. Ginger is a licensed marriage and family therapist with a long history of working with children, teenagers and families. Russ is on staff at Owensboro Christian Church in Kentucky.  
We invite any married couples or couples thinking about marriage to join us! The retreat will also have two breakout sessions that you can choose from, one focused on parenting and another focused on relationships.
We’ll be having our retreat at our Quincy location. We’ll also be providing breakfast and lunch. Childcare will be provided!
*Note – Parents need to pack a nut-free snack, lunch, and water-bottle for their child.
The early bird rate of $75 per couple will end on Sunday, October 13th! 

Date: October 26th, 2019
Time: 9am-4:30pm
Location: 180 Old Colony Ave,
Quincy, MA

Payments can be made online on Pushpay or you can pay in cash/check. To pay online, you can give towards our “General Fund” and put “Marriage Retreat” in the notes.

For cash or check, you can put it in our mailboxes at gathering.

5th Sunday Serve Day Details

5th Sunday Serve Day Details

We want to remind you that 5th Sunday is coming up at REUNION on Sunday, June 30th. Here at REUNION, we have a tradition that any month that has five Sundays in it, we use the Fifth Sunday as an opportunity to serve our community.   All three of our locations...

Discussion Guide: Name it and claim it

Discussion Guide: Name it and claim it

Welcome to another night of Community Groups! Please lean into this guide as much as you need to; use this as a tool to help facilitate fruitful conversation, but please do not let this become a script if you do not need it to be. You know your group better than I do!...

Discussion Guide: National Repentance

Discussion Guide: National Repentance

Sometimes  we fill in what we think the Bible is saying or should say with information we bring to the reading.  We take passages out of context and end up making the bible say something it never was intended to say. Like Autocorrect, this can lead to some...

Community Groups: Pure Religion?

Community Groups: Pure Religion?

Welcome to another Community Group discussion! Please lean into this guide as much as you need to; use this as a tool to help facilitate fruitful conversation, but please do not let this become a script if you do not need it to be. You know your group better than I...

Neighboring Journals

Neighboring Journals

We wrapped up our Prodigals: Finding our way back to God series this past weekend by looking at the often familiar story of the Prodigal Son. Our name “REUNION” comes from this story. We believe the story of the son returning home isn’t just a good parable or a nice story of a loving dad, we believe it’s the narrative of all humanity. In some ways, we are all prodigals who find ourselves in a distant country, far from the father, in need of a REUNION. We have a loving father scanning the horizon waiting with great anticipation for his children to find their way back home. We’ve told this story time and time again at REUNION. But this weekend we noted something we often miss. In all the other parables of Luke 15 (Lost sheep, lost coin) we see something very different than we do in the story of the Lost Son.  

When the sheep gets lost the shepherd goes and searches for it. When the coin is lost the woman sweeps the whole house searching for it. When the younger son goes missing…no one searches…why? 

What if the person who was supposed to go searching was the older brother? 

We are all brother’s and sister’s because we are all created by and dearly loved by the Father. What if it’s our job to go out and search for our younger siblings to demonstrate the family’s love and to invite them to the party? 

That’s exactly why we created this resource we are calling the “Neighboring Journal”. It’s not an in your face evangelism plan. It’s simply a resource to help us start thinking about the people we daily experience life with where we live, work and play. And to consider ways we could be better serving, loving and inviting them into the party. 

Download one here:

Love Your Neighbor Journal (1)

Or pick one up at the connections table at any of our locations. 

As you share your story and love your neighbors, we wanna celebrate with you. Share your story here

Chris Hall

Lead Pastor

Older Brothers

Older Brothers

Welcome to another Community Groups Semester! Please lean into this guide as much as you need to; use this as a tool to help facilitate fruitful conversation, but please do not let this become a script if you do not need it to be. You know your group better than I do! The goal for this evening is to explore the lostness of the older brother, and to wrestle with he ways in which he is more lost than his more famous, wayward sibling. If you can arrive at that destination with your group more efficiently with different questions, please feel free to simply use these as inspiration!  

 

Icebreaker   

Have you ever felt taken for granted or as though you had not gotten something you deserved? What happened, and how did you handle that situation?  

 

Set the Stage 

Luke chapter 15 opens by telling us that all sorts of people are being drawn to Jesus, including tax collectors and sinners. This prompts more than a few raised eyebrows from the religious establishment. Jesus responds to their incredulity and obstinance by telling them one long three-part parable, culminating in the story of a man who has two sons…

 

Discussion Questions 

Read Luke 15:11-32 

Leader’s Note: The parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and of the prodigal son are actually a single, three-part, parable. It may be helpful to read or summarize all three parts in order to dig in more deeply to the story of the prodigal son. 

1. Does anything jump out at you or surprise you from this story?

2. What are the motivations of each of the three characters in this story, as you see them?

3. Describe each the way each of the sons relates to the father and to eachother in this story. What do you think the father wants for each of the sons?

4. Who do you think most needs to hear this story, and what does it have to say to them?

5. What is this story speaking to you?

Diving Deeper: Repenting of self righteousness 

In Matthew chapter 11 Jesus Levels some pretty serious rebukes against a hand full of towns where He had performed numerous miracles. According to Jesus, if the miracles He performed there had been performed in Sodom, the people of Sodom would have repented long ago. 

  1. Read Matthew 11:20-24

    Notice that Jesus does not condemn these towns for being incredibly sinful in one way or another (nor do we have evidence that they were), but rather for simply refusing believe they needed to repent. What are some things that lull us into kind of complacency?

  2. What can we do to overcome these temptations?

    Helpful Resources

The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen

The Prodigal God by Tim Keller

  

The Reunion Team

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