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 scripture we’ve provided below and spend a moment in silence before continuing.
Isaiah 58v 6 – 9
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
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:
- What or who is making you feel hopeful or joyful this week? What’s one area we can pray over, perhaps where hope feels lacking?
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)
All over the Gospels, we find Jesus, who is the exact representation of God, engaging the world’s brokenness. As we pay close attention to what he says and does, we learn how important justice, mercy, and peace are to God’s heart. In one story, Jesus is recorded quoting something God said in Hosea chapter 6: “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.” And then he invites his listeners to “go and find out what this means.” As readers of this text, we become these listeners — this invitation becomes our invitation. And this invitation is not one of learning or studying; it’s an invitation of experience.
In our world, it’s expected that we put ourselves above others; but Jesus instructs us to lay our life down for others. In and through the life and teachings of Jesus, we learn that in God’s Kingdom the last will be first. The question we want to lean into in this season is: How can we help make the last first today? Not just in the future. And not just as a one time act of charity. How can we invite people, through relationship and life together, into the family of God?
To start orienting our hearts towards people on the margins is through the practice of intercession.
Debrief this Sunday’s Teaching (20 Minutes)
With that in mind, work through the following discussion questions as a Community:
- What did you think of the distinction between serving the poor on occasion (charity) and being with the marginalized, inviting them in as family? Have you ever thought about it this way?
- Have you ever had the experience of being invited in, when you felt like an outsider? If so, how did that experience impact you or your life?
- As you listened to the teaching, did anyone come to mind who you feel called to have at your table (literally or figuratively)? What’s one step you could take toward that person or persons this month?
Practice For The Week Ahead: Revisiting your Rule of Life for Justice & Mercy (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 work through the Justice & Mercy section, consider what your existing practices are in this area and write them down. Take some time to consider and pray through what your next step in justice and mercy might be, and what God is inviting you into in this season of your life. Remember, aim to start where you are, not where you think you “should” be.
Below are a few ideas to get you started as you brainstorm and pray through your next step in justice and mercy.
- Entry-Level Practice: Set aside time each week to pray for your neighbors, by name if you can — particularly neighbors on the margins, such as the houseless.
- Baseline Practice: Half of the world lives on less than $2 per day, mainly eating some form of rice and beans. Dedicate one meal each week (with your family or Community) to enter into the burden of not having options by eating rice and beans yourself. During this meal, pray for those friends, neighbors, and strangers in need.
- Reach Practice: Set aside funds you might be saving by eating rice and beans rather than your regular meal or takeout, and utilize those funds for hospitality. Invite someone outside your normal circle over for a nice meal and send them away with leftovers and blessing.
Again, the goal is not to adopt a regimented practice for the sake of checking a box, but for the purpose of being someone who day-by-day is becoming transformed into a person of justice and mercy.
Prayer (10 Minutes)
Spend a few minutes praying for God’s grace over each other, that we might become a people who seek to be like Jesus: pursuing justice alongside mercy, and creating invitation to family wherever we go. Pray 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.