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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

Theology Crawl: “Biblical” Origins

Theology Crawl: “Biblical” Origins

Welcome to the Crawl

Before you start, make sure someone gives The Spiel to your group.  Also, remember these conversation tips: 1) Be polite, and don’t take offense, 2) Say something if you don’t understand, 3) Ask “why” and speak up if you disagree (It’s not rude, it’s just a good conversation). Now, order a drink and start unpacking the deep mysteries of the universe!

The Big Question: WHERE DOES THE BIBLE COME FROM AND DOES IT MATTER?

The Main Questions

  • Discuss as a group how the Bible came into existence. Try to answer the following questions: How/when was it written down? Who wrote it down? Was it edited? Refer to the first bullet point in “Ideas and Definitions” as an aid.
  • Read the definition of the “Historical-Critical Method.” What do you think of this method for approaching the Biblical text? What are its advantages? What are its disadvantages? What theological problems could it cause?
  • Is the “original meaning” of the text actually important for doing Christian theology? If yes, what counts as the original text of the Bible when much of what we have is an edited version of earlier texts? If no, on what basis are you doing Christian theology?”
  • Read the four source hypothesis bullet point in the “Ideas and Definitions” section. Does it bother you that the historical records of Jesus are compiled from different sources and sometimes disagree? If yes, what is particularly troubling to you? If no, how do you deal with theological ideas which depend on their being historical realities (e.g. the resurrection)? 
  • While the Bible is often a valuable historical tool, there are many instances where the archaeological record does not match the Biblical narrative (e.g. the conquest of Israel as described in Joshua is not identifiable in any Israeli dig sites). How would you deal with situations like this on a theological level? Does the historical-critical method help or hinder in dealing with situations like this?
  • The Bible is also a “living document” within the life of the Church. It was first compiled by the early Church and has been continually read and interpreted as a source for communal life. Can/should the Bible’s ecclesial origins be separated from its historical origins?

Key Definitions

  • The Bible is ..
    • Made up of 66 separate books
    • Written by at least 40 separate authors
    • Written over the course of 1,600 years
    • Written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek
  • Historical-critical Method // The primary goal of historical criticism is to discover the text’s primitive or original meaning in its original historical context and its literal sense or sensus literalis historicus. The secondary goal seeks to establish a reconstruction of the historical situation of the author and recipients of the text. // Good ol’ Wikipedia
  • Form criticism // Form criticism breaks the Bible down into sections (pericopes, stories), which are analyzed and categorized by genres (prose or verse, letters, laws, court archives, war hymns, poems of lament etc.). The form critic then theorizes on the pericope’s Sitz im Leben (“setting in life”), the setting in which it was composed and, especially, used. // Good ol’ Wikipedia
  • Source criticism // Source criticism is the search for the original sources which lie behind a given biblical text. // Good ol’ Wikipedia
  • Redaction Criticism // Redaction criticism studies “the collection, arrangement, editing and modification of sources” and is frequently used to reconstruct the community and purposes of the authors of the text. // Good ol’ Wikipedia
  • Four Source Hypothesis // The three synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) are unique in what they share and how they differ. Some passages appear in all three, some two, and some are unique to each Gospel. The four source hypothesis argues Mark was written first and that Matthew and Luke were written using the following sources: Mark, their own unique materials (L & M), and an undiscovered compilation of the sayings of Jesus (Q).

Important Scripture

  • For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. // Matthew 5:18
  • God said to Moses: “Now write down these words, for by these words I’ve made a covenant with you and Israel.” // Exodus 34:27
  • Then the LORD replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. // Habakkuk 2:2
  • You are My witnesses,” declares the LORD, “And My servant whom I have chosen, So that you may know and believe Me And understand that I am He Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me. // Isaiah 43:10
  • As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. // Isaiah 55:10-11

Thoughts from Others

  • The church has traditionally not located the site of inspiration to be in the mind of the human author but in the text of Scripture itself. The shift to concentrating on the intentions of the human author is something that only happened in the modern era, with the rise of historical criticism. // Dale B. Martin, Sex and the Single Savior
  • The application of the historical method to the Bible as a historical text was a path that had to be taken. If we believe that Christ is real history, and not myth, then the testimony concerning him has to be historically accessible as well. In this sense, the historical method has also given us many gifts. It has brought us back closer to the text and its originality, it has shown us more precisely how it grew, and much more besides. The historical-critical method will always remain one dimension of interpretation. // Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI)
  • The historical-critical method is “a truly dictatorial regime in theology.” It is “an uncritical and unjustified denigration of the Biblical text” and a “godless technique that eroded the Word of God itself.” // G. Maier
  • We really just want to make two basic points:
    • We want to show that not all historical-critical view-points lead to heresy (there is no satanic druid cabal slaughtering goats behind closed doors at the Society of Biblical Literature meetings!); you can be orthodox and a historical critic.
    • Since some historical critical perspectives do damage the way Christians historically have understood their faith, evangelicals should be at the forefront of the discussion, helping shape good critical scholarship rather than ceding the field to people who don’t have the same theological concerns. // Christopher M. Hays

Resources

 

Discussion Guide: Oriented Toward the Margins

Discussion Guide: Oriented Toward the Margins

For six weeks, we’ll be exploring postures of discipleship. Postures arrange our bodies to respond to various circumstances and allow us to engage with purpose. Over time, the practice of a posture reshapes our muscles and even bones such that the posture becomes a natural part of who we are. Today we are talking about the posture of being oriented towards the margins.

The concept of social justice has become a major theme in contemporary society. People are more sensitive to the different levels of marginalization, injustice, and stigmatization that affect our societies. Yet, how we address and fix these issues is not something we often agree on. Even more, we are often at a loss to understand how our faith is a unique tool for addressing injustice. What would a Christ-like response to the injustices of our world look like?

 

Icebreaker

If you had one superpower, what would it be? Why that one?

 

Scripture Reading

Ecclesiastes 4:1-3;  Amos 5:1-17; Luke 4:14-21

 

Discussion Questions

Read Ecclesiastes 4:1-3

  1. Ecclesiastes is full of observations about life. Do you find this observation accurate? Why/why not?
  2. This observation is part of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. Why is it important that this sort observation is included in our Scriptures?
  3. Have you ever had an experience where you felt like the author of this passage? What made you feel that way?
  4. Why is it important to take time to lament over the plight of others?

Read Amos 5:1-17

  1. How is God’s relationship to the poor depicted in this passage? How does that relate to the observation of the author in Ecclesiastes?
  2. How do seeking the Lord and seeking justice relate in this passage?
  3. Amos is directing this message to the people of Israel. What is he calling them to do?
  4. How might the call of Amos be translated to our own times? What is this calling the Church to do?

Read Luke 4:14-21

  1. This moment is Jesus’ first public address in the book of Luke. How does this passage portray Jesus?
  2. What connections do you see between the themes of this passage and the other passages we just read?
  3. In this passage, Jesus reads from Isaiah 61. Considering what you know about Jesus’ life and ministry, how do you see him as a fulfillment of this passage?
  4. Is Jesus’ “good news” and “freedom” just a spiritual message? Why/why not?
  5. What are some concrete issues in your surrounding community where “good news” and “freedom” need to be proclaimed? What would that mean? What would that look like?

 

Diving Deeper: The Discomfort of Justice

While “social justice” is a popular idea, the practice of social justice can be quite uncomfortable, calling us into experiences and relationships that are uncomfortable. This section spends some time discussing this idea.

  1. Read the following passage from The Next Evangelicalism by Soong-Chan Rah: “The presence of poor bodies is a threat to the status quo and to our communal comfort. The presence of poor bodies reminds us of our own vulnerabilities and insecurities and that all is not well–that there are deep, gaping wounds in our society…but often instead of working to heal those wounds, we quickly cover them up so the disease is out of sight, out of mind.”
  2. Most people say they desire diverse communities. Yet, most people often tend to avoid them, too. Why is there a disconnect between the language of just and reconciled communities and the practice of these communities?
  3. Does a struggle for justice and an orientation towards the margins of society always result in uncomfortable situations? Why/why not?
  4. How is Jesus a guide in leading us into the practice of justice in our interpersonal relationships?
  5. How has your desire for justice led you into uncomfortable situations?

 

Helpful Resources

The Reunion Team

Discussion Guide: Rooted in the Neighborhood

Discussion Guide: Rooted in the Neighborhood

For six weeks, we’ll be exploring postures of discipleship. Postures arrange our bodies to respond to various circumstances and allow us to engage with purpose. Over time, the practice of a posture reshapes our muscles and even bones such that the posture becomes a natural part of who we are. Today we are talking about the posture of being rooted in our neighborhoods.  

In today’s globalized world, we can sometimes feel as close to Beijing as we do to Boston. We have the ability to chat with friends who are thousands of miles away and we can check the weather in Antarctica. That’s amazing, but sometimes it can mean we live our lives as if the spaces we physically inhabit don’t matter all that much. In a world of digital connection and shrinking sense of place, does caring about those around us even matter? What does it mean to be rooted to your surroundings today? What might it look like to not view your neighborhood as just a place you ended up, but as the place God has called you? 

 

Icebreaker

What kind of neighborhood did you grow up in as a kid? How do you think that shaped you?

 

Scripture Reading

Jeremiah 29:1-14; John 1:1-14

 

Discussion Questions

  1. How long have you lived in this area? What brought you here? Why are you still here?

Read JEREMIAH 29:1-14.

  1. The message this week talked about the exile in Babylon, what do you remember about the historical context of this passage and the people of Israel? What is happening to them? Conversation Helper: It may help to go back a chapter and read Jeremiah 28.
  2. How are the people of Israel responding to their displacement? What was their relationship with Babylon like?
  3. In your own words, what is God, through Jeremiah, telling Israel to do in this passage? Do you think this was an easy or hard thing to hear?
  4. Why is God calling them to be rooted in their city? Conversation Helper: It may help to keep reading up to Jeremiah 19:23. Why isn’t it time for Israel to move on? Why does God want them to pray for the prosperity of a city which exiled them?
  5. We live in an age where people move much more frequently. While they aren’t carried away in exile, many people have a tendency to live their lives focusing on the temporariness of a given stage and planning for the future. Why is this? Is this good or bad?
  6. How do you interact with your city? Do you feel like you are rooted in it? Why/why not?
  7. What might God be saying to you about rooting yourself in this city? What would it look like to respond to God’s word to Jeremiah in your life?

Diving Deeper: The INCARNATION

Read JOHN 1:1-14 in the message translation.

  1. This passage of Scripture is famous and you’ve probably encountered it in various translations. It is notoriously hard to translate, so translators have to be creative to express what the text is getting at. What do you like about the way the message translated this passage?
  2. Why does the incarnation of Christ into a single human person in a single human community matter? What does that mean for the relationship of God to physical and relational space?
  3. How does the Church relate to Christ’s incarnation? What does it mean/look like to be a incarnated community?
  4. Think about your community. What would it look like to personally live a life inspired by the incarnation of Christ? How would you embody Christ’s presence? 
  5. Jesus was personally known in his neighborhood (e.g. Matthew 13:54-58), are you known in yours? If you feel like you are, share with the group the story of how this came to be? If you feel like you aren’t, why is that?

 

Helpful Resources

The Reunion Team

Discussion Guide: Transforming Community

Discussion Guide: Transforming Community

For six weeks, we’ll be exploring postures of discipleship. Postures arrange our bodies to respond to various circumstances and allow us to engage with purpose. Over time, the practice of a posture reshapes our muscles and even bones such that the posture becomes a natural part of who we are. Today we are talking about the posture of being transformed through community. 

The Gospel of Jesus is a message of reconciliation, a message about bringing together the broken human family. The gospel means we belong to one race, the human-beloved-by-God race. Yet, reconciliation does not mean washing away our different histories, perspectives, and experiences. What does it mean to be part of a diverse gospel community? How do we deal with our differences, and how do we broach difficult subjects? Most importantly, how do we allow our differences to be part of God’s transformation of our lives?

Icebreaker

What is the one topic that you hate hearing people argue about? Why do you hate that topic in particular?

 

Scripture Reading

Galatians 2:11-21

 

Discussion Questions

  1. In I Think You’re Wrong (But I’m Listening), Sarah Steward Holland and Beth Silvers explain, “Somewhere along the way….we decided that [conflict] is impolite at best and dangerous at worst. Unfortunately our attempts to avoid these uncomfortable moments have backfired. In our efforts to protect relationships from tension, we have instead escalated that tension…we changed “you shouldn’t talk about politics” to “you should talk only to people who reinforce your worldview’.” Is conflict always a bad thing? What would characterize good/healthy conflict?

Read GALATIANS 2:11-19

  1. Can someone who listened to the sermon provide some background to this passage? What ethnic/racial tensions are at play?
  2. What is theologically at stake in the passage? Why does Paul feel it is necessary to confront Cephas (Peter)?
  3. How would you describe Paul’s confrontation with Peter? Was it loving, overly harsh, something else?
  4. How did Paul utilize the Gospel in his confrontation?
  5. What do you think the immediate effects of this confrontation were? What were the long-term effects?
  6. Have you ever had someone confront you in a way similar to how Paul confronted Peter? Have you ever confronted someone/ What was the experience like? What did you learn?
  7.  In The Different Drum, M. Scott Peck talks about the stages of  group development. He explains that all groups go through four stages: Pseudo-Community > Chaos > Emptiness > Real Community.  The transition from Chaos to Emptiness is one of the most challenging stages. He says, “In order to transcend the stage of “Chaos”, members are forced to shed that which prevents real communication. Biases and prejudice, need for power and control, self-superiority, and other similar motives which are only mechanisms of self-validation and/or ego-protection, must yield to empathy, openness to vulnerability, attention, and trust. Hence this stage does not mean people should be “empty” of thoughts, desires, ideas or opinions. Rather, it refers to emptiness of all mental and emotional distortions which reduce one’s ability to really share, listen to, and build on those thoughts, ideas, etc.” How do you see this dynamic at work in the passage today?
  8. Have you ever been part of a group that had to go through the transition from chaos to emptiness? What was it like? What did you learn?
  9.  What are some areas that you feel Christian communities are afraid to talk about? What gets in the way of them having productive conflicts? 
  10. How might the Spirit be leading you to lovingly engage areas that are contentious? How might you need to empty yourself?

    Diving Deeper: ChurCH DISCIPLINE

    Read ACTS 5:1-11

      1. What is your immediate reaction to this story?
      2. What did Ananias and Sapphira do that was so wrong that God had to smite them? Is giving money to the Church really that bad?
      3. Why do you think Ananias and Sapphira acted  in the deceptive way that they did?
      4. How might the actions of Ananias and Sapphira undercut the witness of the early Church?
      5. Are there actions people take that should engender a severe disciplinary response from the Church? What are some examples, and why are such responses necessary?
      6. What would a healthy structure of church discipline look like?
      7. How should Christians engage each other today when they disagree about what actions need a disciplinary response or the nature of that response?

    Helpful Resources

    The Reunion Team

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