The Community Guide below is based on Sunday’s teaching for our current series: Future Church. As your whole Community gathers (online or socially distanced), use the Community Guide below to give shape to your night together.
Begin by Practicing the Lord’s Supper Together (5 minutes)
Begin your night by partaking of the bread and the cup together. Have each person bring their own Communion elements. To facilitate your time, you can either ask a member of your Community to come ready with a short prayer, liturgy, or scripture reading, or assign someone to read the Apostles Creed we’ve provided below and spend a moment in silence before continuing:
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.
From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.
Emotional Health Check-in (10 Minutes)
As we focus in on this series, we want to continue to create space for checking in on each other, but doing so in a shorter amount of time. Take a few minutes to do an emotional health check-in with your Community, creating space for each person to answer the question below:
- In 7 words or less, what would be helpful to hear God (or someone close) say to you this week?
If the need arises, spend a few minutes praying for one another, asking God to meet needs and help each person carry what feels heavy right now.
Read this Overview (5 Mins)
As followers of Jesus, we choose to be a community of holiness while living in a culture of moral relativism. Apprenticing to Jesus’ way of life means that we follow his mental maps to reality. He is our transcendent moral authority. And while much of his teachings come to us through the four gospels and the writings of the New Testament, it’s based in the inner life of the Trinity itself, the inner nature of the Creator. The more we align our life to the teachings of Jesus, to his mental maps to reality, the more we flourish and thrive in relationship with God and others. And the reverse is also true: the more incongruent our life is with Jesus, the more we show up to reality in such a way that we struggle and suffer. As the British philosopher H.H. Farmer put it, “If you go against the grain of the universe you get splinters.” That said, it is so important to keep in mind that this all doesn’t put us, as followers of Jesus, at odds with our host culture; it just puts us out of place in our host culture, on both the Left and the Right.
Holiness means to be set apart. It is not just about behavior, but about the inner life. Holiness is about the whole body. It seeks to rescue us from a culture whose view of the body is low, and to put us into a worldview in which our bodies are the very temple of God. What we do and don’t do with them matters because we matter. Fasting, then becomes a practice from the life and teachings of Jesus that sets us up to starve the flesh and feed the spirit, to amplify our prayers, and to stand in solidarity with the poor. Fasting is a way of praying with our bodies as we partner with God to usher in his Kingdom to our world.
Debrief this Sunday’s Teaching (20 Minutes)
With that in mind, work through the following discussion questions as a Community:
- What does the word “holiness” bring up in you? Did you have bad experiences with that word in the past? Good? What does it mean to you now?
- The world’s definition of love is to follow your heart as long as it doesn’t harm anybody. Jesus’ definition of love is to will the good of another ahead of yourself no matter the cost. Which does your life tend to reflect?
- The Scriptures talk of the body as God’s temple, set apart for the use of worship and lasting joy. This is a higher view of the body than the world has, which talks of it as the means to feel something. Was this the view of the body you were raised with? If not, how may your life have been different had you been raised with this view?
Practice For The Week Ahead: Revisiting your Rule of Life for Scripture (10 Minutes)
This week, continue revising and working on your Rule of Life Chart, keeping in mind that the goal is not to fill in every box, but to come to a good balance and rhythm in each category. As you consider the Prayer & Fasting subsection, consider what your existing practices are in this area and write them down. Then take some time to reflect on and pray through what healthy rhythms of reading scripture could be for you, and what your next step might be to move toward greater holiness through fasting and prayer. Remember, aim to start where you are, not where you think you “should” be.
Here are a few ideas to get you started as you brainstorm and pray through your next step in Fasting:
- Entry-Level Practice: Try fasting for the first time. If you’re not ready to fast for an entire day, try picking a meal or two to skip. And during your time of fasting, intentionally spend time turning your attention towards God in prayer.
- Baseline Practice: Adopt a practice of fasting once a week. (Note: Our COVID Rule of Life invites Bridgetown to pray and fast together on Thursdays.)
- Reach Practice: Expand your practice of fasting by taking up the practice of the ancient church, until at least the 1700s, and fast twice a week and/or further focusing your time in fasting with journaling, scripture, or prayer to “break” a particular habit or sin in your life.
Again, the goal is not to adopt a regimented fasting practice for the sake of checking a box, but for the purpose of being someone who day-by-day is becoming transformed and freed by holiness.
Prayer (10 Minutes)
Spend a few minutes praying for God’s grace over each other, that we might become a people who make Jesus our Lord, and that there might be a sweeping renewal of the Holy Spirit in our city. Ask that God would stir up within us a desire to be with him in prayer and to serve him, one another, and our neighbor in love.