Following Jesus: Some Assembly Required – Week 5

Invitation

Week of April 10

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. Over the course of this series, we will open our time together by responding to one or two of these questions.

  1. Am I proud? What prideful thoughts or actions have prevented me from living as Jesus did?

  2. Is Christ real to me? What does my relationship with Christ look like?

  3. Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy, or distrustful? When have my actions prevented me from being welcoming or inclusive to others?

Opening Prayer: 
God, thank you so much for being who you are. Allow us with the willingness to share in an open and honest way. Help us to experience your grace both within us and through us today. We know others are hurting and struggling, please help us do our part to welcome others into the purifying love that is your kingdom. Amen.

Scripture Background: 
Luke Chapter 15 has a lot of lost items! It is unknown if Jesus told these parables back to back or if they were collected here by Luke to bring home a point. What we do know is that there are many times the Pharisees and religious leaders openly confronted Jesus, typically in cases involving direct disobedience to one of their traditions - such as eating without washing hands or healing on the sabbath. This was not one of those cases. Here, Jesus is responding to the Pharisees grumblings behind his back in response to actions that they felt were distasteful, specifically associating with known sinners.

Scripture Reading:
Luke 15:3-7
Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose someone among you had one hundred sheep and lost one of them. Wouldn’t he leave the other ninety-nine in the pasture and search for the lost one until he finds it? And when he finds it, he is thrilled and places it on his shoulders. When he arrives home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Celebrate with me because I’ve found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who changes both heart and life than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need to change their hearts and lives.”

Luke 15:8-10
“Or what woman, if she owns ten silver coins and loses one of them, won’t light a lamp and sweep the house, searching her home carefully until she finds it? When she finds it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Celebrate with me because I’ve found my lost coin.’  In the same way, I tell you, joy breaks out in the presence of God’s angels over one sinner who changes both heart and life.”

Engaging Scripture:  
  1. What do you notice about these two parables? Is there a word or phrase that stands out to you?

  2. The Human One, Jesus, is responding to accusations of not following social order. Discuss a time in your life when you felt the need to address things that were said behind your back. How did that make you feel? What made you respond to these accusations?

  3. In Jesus’s time one lost coin or one member of a herd had a significant economic impact on the owners and caretakers. Name a time when something happened that caused you or someone you know significant financial impact. How did that make you feel? What did you feel when it was resolved?

  4. Discuss a time when you yourself felt lost. What helped you get through that stage of life? Were you ever able to use that experience to help others?

Application Questions:
1. We live in a world where people are often judged by their economic potential instead of their inherent worth. Talk about a time when you felt like a number or a paycheck. How did that make you feel? How about when someone took the extra time to see you as a person, not just a resource?

2. In this week’s sermon Pastor Matt talks about a simple invitation vs. pushy, coercive or manipulative invitation. When have you felt coerced or manipulated by someone trying to push their faith on you? What makes an invitation different?

3. Talk about a time when you successfully invited someone to church. How did it go? How did the conversation come up? What were they curious about?
 
4. In this week’s sermon we meet Don, a barista at Starbucks in South City. Don wasn’t sure if he was welcome at The Gathering because he hadn’t received a specific invitation to attend. Has there been a time in your life when you felt left out because someone hadn’t specifically invited you? Have you ever left someone out, unintentionally, because you just assumed that they knew they were welcome?
 
Closing Prayer:  
God, thank you for placing intrinsic value on all of our lives. Thank you for creating a world in which we all have value. Give us courage this week to extend a simple invitation to those we interact with so that they too can come to know the intrinsic value that you place in each and every one of us. Amen.

Taking it Further: 
Invite someone to The Gathering this Easter Season. There is a lot going on this week!
  • “Stations in the Street” by Contemporary Christian artist Scott Ericson at our Clayton Site
  • Maundy Thursday services at our McCausland Site
  • Good Friday services at our McCausland Site
  • Easter Egg Hunt at our Webster Site
  • And of course, Easter services at all three sites and online!

You can find all the information on the app!

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