Clean Slate: Week 1 Discussion Guide

CoreGroup Guide | Clean Slate - Week One


Welcome to a new year of CoreGroup discussions! Our first sermon series of the year is called Clean Slate: New Habits for a New Year. This series offers a perfect opportunity to reflect on the past year – goals met, mistakes made, lessons learned, and places of gratitude. This is also an opportunity to look ahead at the year to come. What hopes and dreams do you have for the new year? And what do you need to leave behind to get there? Let’s jump in!

Opening Prayer

God, thank you for this CoreGroup and for these companions on the journey. Thank you for always giving us a fresh start, even when we don’t deserve it or know what to do with it. Forgive us, Lord, for trying to do too much, for thinking that if we just squeeze in one more thing all will be right. We’re here today with open hearts and open minds, Lord. Remind us of what is most important this year and show us the ways in which less is actually better. Amen.

Ice Breaker

If your life was defined by just one genre of music, what would it be, and why? If you could only pick one, what artist or group would you choose to provide the soundtrack to your life?

The Head

Shortly after he began his public ministry, Jesus called his first disciples and started traveling around the Galilee region teaching, healing, and proclaiming the Good News of God. Our first scripture reading today provides a description of a typical day in the life of Jesus and his disciples during this time. This is Mark 1:29-39.

(29) As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. (30) Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. (31) He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.

(32) That evening, at sunset, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed by demons. (33) And the whole city was gathered around the door. (34) And he cured many who were sick with various diseases and cast out many demons, and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.

(35) In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. (36) And Simon and his companions hunted for him. (37) When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” (38) He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also, for that is what I came out to do.” (39) And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.

  • How would you describe the average day in the life of Jesus during this time?
  • What do you notice about the other people in this story besides Jesus? For example, what is the role of the disciples, the mother-in-law, and the crowds of people?
  • What is the significance of verse 35? What do we learn about Jesus here? Why is it this important? 
  • What does verse 38 teach us about Jesus? Why is this important? 
  • How would you describe Jesus’ purpose during his time here on earth?

The Heart

Thousands of years ago, ancient Greek philosophers like Plato and Aristotle suggested that all things have an “essence” to them, or a set of characteristics or attributes that are essential for the core identity of that thing. This basic idea has been debated for years, but it presents some interesting questions for us to think about as we reflect on the life and ministry of Jesus, as well as our own core identities as followers of Christ.

  • What are the most essential parts of your life?
  • What practices do you use to center, honor, uphold, and protect those essential parts?
  • What prevents you from centering, honoring, upholding, and protecting these things?
  • If you had to describe your personal life purpose in one sentence, what would it be?
  • What is the hardest thing about accepting God’s offer of a fresh start?

The Hands

Sometimes real change and meaningful growth require us to do less, not more. But this is difficult to accomplish if we don’t occasionally pause to reflect on all of the many things that fill our time. In the week to come, set aside a few minutes to take an honest inventory of your life. Using a journal, a device, or just a simple piece of paper and pen, make two lists side by side:

List One: How do you spend your time in a typical week? What consumes your mental and physical energy the most? What feels the most urgent in your day-to-day life?

List Two: What are the most valuable aspects of your life, your pillars, your big rocks? Who are the most important people? What brings you the most meaning, joy, and fulfillment?

  • As you compare and contrast these two lists, what do you notice?
  • Where does your relationship with God fit into these lists?
  • What old habits, regrets, temptations, patterns, or emotional burdens do you need to let go of in order to prioritize what is most essential to your life and faith? 

The next time you meet, share one insight or something you learned from this activity with your group. If you are comfortable doing so, also share one part of your life that could use a little extra prayer or accountability as we embrace a fresh start in the new year.

Closing Prayer

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of fresh starts and the opportunity to refocus our hearts and minds on what is most essential in this season of life. It’s in Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

Going Deeper

In Matthew 13, Jesus shares several parables – or short simple stories – to describe the kingdom of heaven to the crowds of people gathered around him. Here are two examples:

Matthew 13:44
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and reburied; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

Matthew 13:45
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

  • How do these parables impact your understanding of what is most essential in life?
  • What is the greatest treasure or the finest pearls in your life?
  • How would you describe “the kingdom of heaven” in your own words?

Additional Resource

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Dan McKeown

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