SENT: Week 4 Discussion Guide

Core Group Guide - Sent Week 4

Welcome to Week 4 and our final session of Sent.  Last week we were reminded us through the parable of a farmer planting seed in different types of soil, that the response/growth that results from invitations we extend are beyond our responsibility to control or even our power to effect.  This week, in another agricultural analogy, we examine the reason invitation is still important.  We will focus on the way in which Jesus “sent” his disciples into the harvest.  

Opening Prayer
Heavenly Father, thank you for the invitation to gather here today.  Thank you for the possibility of today – for the ideas we will share, for the community of this group, and for the ways you use our time together to grow us.  May our discussion be fruitful and our words be kind.  Amen.

Circle Back
Thinking back on your week, are you aware of ways in which you “planted seeds” either through direct invitation or conversation or action?   What particular challenges did you experience? This past week was also the beginning of Lent and the opportunity to sign up for daily devotions.  Were you able to use the devotions to consider the soil of your own heart and what growth God may be cultivating?  

Ice Breaker
If you could travel to one country anywhere in the world where you have not already visited, where would you go?  Why?

The Scripture
This passage could be used to summarize much of Jesus’ ministry on earth.  He was always on the go, always seeing the real needs of the people, always caring deeply, always thinking of his purpose, and always living in relationship to his Father/God.

Matthew 9:35-38
Jesus traveled among all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, announcing the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and every sickness.  Now when Jesus saw the crowds he had compassion for them because they were troubled and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  Then he said to his disciples, the size of the harvest is bigger than you can imagine, but there are few workers.  Therefore plead with the Lord of the harvest to send out workers for his harvest.  

The Head
This section begins with the statement of Jesus’ activities.  What was he doing regularly?  Quickly scan Matthew 9 and list healings, teachings, and challenges that he encountered.
What might it have been like for his disciples to witness his interactions with people?  What do you think their discussions may have been at the end of the day?  

Crowds followed Jesus everywhere – whether they were seeking healing for some disease or wanting to hear what he was preaching, or whether they thought he was going to be the one to lead a revolution against Rome – they were always pushing for something.  It would have been easy to discount them. In fact, some blind men seeking healing were told to be quiet; some children were told to go away.  How did Jesus see the crowds?  How does he describe them?  When you consider the “crowds” in your community how do you see them?  In what way are people still “as sheep without a shepherd”?

What statement did Jesus make to his disciples?  What did he then instruct them to do?  How does this relate to us today?  

The Heart
In this series we have been asked to pay attention to people around us and to be invitational to all that we know.  Is it more or less difficult to consider the crowds of people outside of our immediate environs?  If you agree that it is more difficult, why is that so?  One way the Gathering seeks to show compassion to crowds far away is through the Mozambique well building project.  Can you share other experiences in which you were able to show compassion to people who were either far off or who you did not know? Is compassion or the works of compassion something we can plan?  How does that work?  

Do you think the compassion Jesus spoke of was always related to an invitation to relationship with God?  Was there always a spiritual component?  In other words, were there strings attached to his healing and teaching and comforting?  Are there ways we can show compassion without the expectation that people will follow us to church?

Jesus said that the harvest is “bigger than you can imagine.”  The implication is that there are many more people than we would ever think who are searching for a relationship with God.  How can that knowledge impact our own willingness to invite people into a relationship?    

Why do you think Jesus instructed his disciples to pray for the harvest?  How do you integrate prayer for the ‘crowds’ and the ‘harvest’ into your daily petitions?

The Hands
Take some time this week to imagine bigger things – to imagine bigger numbers, and to imagine greater compassion.  Then begin to pray just as Jesus tells his disciples that the Lord would send people into the lives of those who are seeking.  

Extend one more invitation.  This week if you attended the worship services in person, there was a postcard provided for you to send as an invitation.  

If you would like to receive The Gathering’s Lenten Devotional, simply click on this link to sign up. The daily devotion will arrive in your email inbox each morning during Lent. Although Lent is often considered a time for individual reflection, preparation, and prayer, your CoreGroup is also a great place to share your thoughts on the devotion each day. Over the next six weeks, check in with each other about the ways God is working in your heart during this season.

Closing Prayer
Lord Jesus, you are always more than we can imagine.  All of our wonders fall short of the ways in which you gave so much of yourself to individuals, both friendly and hostile, and to crowds who followed without understanding.  Open our eyes to see what you see and our hearts to compassion we have not known.  Hear our prayers for those longing to know you and send workers into the fields.  Give us courage to say, Send me.   Amen.

Sent series discussion guides written by: Sherrill Wall & Jenny Huffman

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