Following Jesus: Some Assembly Required – Week 2

LEARN TOGETHER

Week of March 20, 2022

Opener
Evangelist and founder of Methodism, John Wesley, believed that living holy lives required believers to share their lives in intimate fellowship on a regular basis. His development of small groups revolutionized 18th century England and continues to influence us today as we gather to learn together in CoreGroups. For Wesley, small groups provided a framework to help people grow in 'holiness of heart and life.' Wesley used a series of spiritual questions to guide the groups’ time together. Throughout the remainder of this series, we will open our time together by responding to some of these questions.

1. When have I shared or gossiped to other people what was told to me in confidence? What were the repercussions I experienced from breaking this trust?
2. Tell me about a time when someone shared something that you told them in confidence? How did this make you feel?
3. What areas of my life do I currently feel defeated? In what ways can I allow God to work through others to help me through it?
4. What do I grumble or complain constantly about? What does this accomplish?

Opening Prayer: 
God, thank you for not making us go on this journey alone. Thank you for not only giving us your grace on the journey of life, but also for giving us a community to travel with. Help us maintain the willingness to learn from others. Help us share your grace as we venture to learn and grow with the people you have placed in our lives. Amen.

Historical Context:
Acts, written by Luke as a sequel to the gospel that bears his name, provides an overview of what Christianity looked like in the wake of Jesus’s death and resurrection. In Acts, Luke explained Christianity’s amazing growth—perhaps to legitimize the church to community leaders or to confirm the faith of believers. The NIV Quest Study Bible says Luke seems to have wanted congregations to understand the reason for disagreements between Jewish and Gentile Christians who were brought together through Jesus the Messiah as members of God’s family. These challenges faced by the early church can serve as an encouragement to us in the present-day church. The disciples’ enthusiasm that took the gospel across various groups of people can also encourage us today. The Spirit so active in Acts is the same Holy Spirit that is currently at work today in the church.1

Scripture Reading:
Acts 2:42-47
The believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the community, to their shared meals, and to their prayers. A sense of awe came over everyone. God performed many wonders and signs through the apostles. All the believers were united and shared everything. They would sell pieces of property and possessions and distribute the proceeds to everyone who needed them. Every day, they met together in the temple and ate in their homes. They shared food with gladness and simplicity. They praised God and demonstrated God’s goodness to everyone. The Lord added daily to the community those who were being saved.

Engaging Scripture:  
Let’s pause before we think about how this passage makes us feel or how it applies to our context. This section can help ground your group in talking about what is written and consider its impact on the original audience. 
  1. This scripture mentions a variety of ways that one can learn from others in a group including listening to teaching, sharing meals, and in prayer. Which ways do you learn the best from others?
  2. In this passage, generosity was a key element of living in a community. How does being generous help you be a better member of your community?
  3. The scripture refers to sharing with “gladness and simplicity”. Discuss a time when you had to shift your mindset about a group of people. What are the benefits of approaching community with “gladness and simplicity”?

Application Questions:
1. All of us have experienced times when it helped us a lot to share a concern that was weighing us down. Who has an example they are willing to share of a time when a burden you were feeling was lightened by sharing it with others?  
2. What hinders your willingness to be vulnerable in a CoreGroups? What helps build trust that leads to openness and a willingness to share in our group?  Can we put our finger on anything we sometimes do that tends to shut down sharing in our group, when we all pull back just a little? Can we think of what helps us really talk freely some weeks?
3. Wesley believed that the Kingdom of God is both within us (through the Holy Spirit) as well as among us, through authentic Christian community. Tell us about what you have done to help build up an authentic Christian community in your life. What is something that you can do to be more intentional about building this community?

Closing Prayer:  
God, thank you for giving us this group of people to learn and grow with. As we go from this place, let us have an open mind. Help us with the ability to share with gladness and simplicity. Please help me with the willingness to learn from others and take any reservations I have about being open and vulnerable. Help guide me and share your healing grace with those who I interact with in the following week. Amen.
 
Taking it Further: 

Reading List: 
  1. Five Means of Grace: Experience God’s Love the Wesleyan Way - Elaine Heath
2. The Art of Gathering: Why We Meet and Why It Matters - Priya Parker
3. The Other Half of Church: Christian Community, Brain Science, and Overcoming Spiritual Stagnation - Jim WIlder & Michael Hendricks
1 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+2:42-47&version=NRSV

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