Week 5 - Good Questions

WEEK 5 - Good Questions: Getting to The Heart

Leaders, following up with someone during conversation is a skill. When done in love, it can help others see what they are believing, feeling or experiencing. We often are blind to the motives and feelings of our heart which is one of the many reasons God gave us community. The heart is deceitful (Jer 17:9) and difficult to understand, but other believers, empowered by the Holy Spirit, can gently and lovingly listen and ask questions to help draw out what is unseen. They can help reveal our heart motives so that, when needed,  we can take those motives to the Lord in prayer. As a result, there might be times we need to repent to God and ask him to change us. There might also be times when we need to ask God to heal us from past hurts.

What we don't want to do is give people answers, solve their "problem" or be their savior. We also don't want to condemn or diminish people's experiences. Our goal is to help build one another up in love, to point each other to Jesus and be witness to God’s work through the Holy Spirit.

To help, I've included some examples of open-ended questions. You might also recall us covering this topic in the Facilitating Discussion training you went through prior to leading. If you'd like, you can re-listen to that HERE or in the app under DG Leader Resources. Feel free to revisit that anytime.

  • What was the desire you had in that moment?

  • Why did you desire that?

  • Is God calling you to desire something different?

  • What would be different if you had the desires of the HS in that moment?

  • Why do you think you’re struggling with this?

  • What do you fear will happen if you…?

  • What do you believe or fear will happen?

  • What do you believe Jesus would want you to believe about this situation?

  • What came to your mind when this happened?

  • How are you feeling about_____?

  • Are you feeling _____ (angry, lonely, etc)? Where is that a real struggle? 

  • What are you afraid of right now?

  • Describe how you see God right now.  What do you think he is doing?

  • What questions do you wish you could ask ____ (the person they’re in conflict with)?

  • What questions do you wish you could ask God?

  • What part of the situation is getting to you the most? Why?


MEDIA + LITURGY

Below is a guideline for your time together this week:

  • Vision Cast - Vision casting does 3 things; shares purpose, develops culture and calls others to action. Please ensure you are doing this on a weekly basis so your group understands why they are gathering and the goals you desire of them. 
     

  • Key scripture(s) from the sermon; Genesis 3:1-13; Mark 8:14-21
     

  • Training (video) - Again, these videos will vary in length depending on the conversations and teaching. Our desire is to give your group examples of what it looks like to live these skills out in real life. These are unscripted conversations along with teaching from Pastor Joel. We want to help your group understand the benefits and value of growing in relationship with one another.

  • Apprenticeship - This week you will use notes from the previous four weeks to help shape and direct the questions you will ask of one another. The hope and expectation is that your group has been paying attention to each other as they have shared. Also note, these apprenticeship times should be done in groups of 6 or less. Gender-specific for co-ed groups. If you haven't done so yet, this would be a good week to put this into practice. Breaking into Subgroups is beneficial during a major series to ensure everyone has the ability to share and practice the skill. Also, just so you know, this is not something that we will do for every series.
     

  • Immersion - Again, spend 5 minutes or so briefly going through the questions. How has it been going? Are people participating? If not, why not? The skills we are learning and growing in are meant to be lived out. The experience in our gatherings is just one aspect of what it means to have holistic friendships.

    Serve opportunity: We are still needing help with providing and serving food for Jobs for Life on the night of November 7th. Please contact me if you would like more information. 


Week 4 - Entry Gates

WEEK 4 - Entry Gates

A couple years ago I met a friend for coffee. He had wanted to discuss his struggle with anger and how it was affecting his marriage. As he confessed details of his experience I listened and could tell that he was remorseful for his actions. But, it seemed like he didn't understand why he kept responding the same way.

Throughout the conversation, I heard multiple reasons why he was angry; long hours at work, financial struggles, hard situations within the family. He also, at one point, mentioned that he felt unlovable. In other moments I heard his desire to honor God and how much he wanted to change. He just didn't know how.

Often, when someone shares a struggle like this our default is to focus on circumstance rather than the heart. We want to relieve the hurt or explain away the sin rather than pursuing them further. We can often just want to "fix the problem" by handing out platitudes. Or possibly we don't even know how to engage.

This week in our groups we will take the next step forward in the skill of listening. We will be learning how to identify entry gates in conversation. These are small steps in vulnerability that people make as they share. It's a movement toward deeper openness that allows us to pursue others further.

It is risky though. For the one sharing, there is a risk of what it might mean to be open with someone else. To be truly known. For the listener, it's risky because of what it might mean to really know another person. This definitely will challenge our fears and insecurities. Those in your group may be tempted to stay at safe distance. That's ok. Encourage them to step out of their comfort zone. Invite them to take the risk because we have a God who loves and pursues us. Who desires to hear from us. Who examines our hearts, knows our every thought and yet still chose to die for us.

One of the entry gates that stood out in the conversation with my friend that day was him saying he felt unlovable. As I dove further in I asked him to explain that thought. It turned out, under it all, he doubted God's love for him. He understood it theologically but at the core of his heart didn't believe it applied to him personally. There was a gap. By listening closely I was able to hear that and speak truth into his life.

Family, this week, we conclude our training on the skill of listening. We will close out these sessions by listening for entry gates in our conversations and growing in our ability to incarnate love through listening.


MEDIA + LITURGY

Below is a guideline for your time together this week:

  • Vision Cast - 1 Thessalonians 5:9–11
    For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

    Consider how you can encourage your group this week. How have they been growing in love for each other? How have you grown in love for them? Most importantly, how have they been growing in Christlike character? 
     

  • Key scripture(s) from the sermon; James 3:1-12Luke 6:43-45
     

  • Training (video) - This week's video is just under 8 minutes. Throughout this series, it will be beneficial to break into subgroups for greater focus and depth of conversation. Especially if you have more than six adults in attendance. 

  • Apprenticeship - As Pastor Joel mentions in the video we are looking for the following four types of phrases as people share. This is a skill to develop and takes practice but is an opportunity to grow in loving one another well;

    • Emotional words (e.g. "I'm afraid")

    • Interpretive words (e.g. "This shouldn't be happening")

    • Self-talk (e.g. "This always happens to me")

    • God talk (e.g. "I thought I was doing what God wanted")
       

  • Immersion - Again, spend 5 minutes or so briefly going through the questions. How has it been going? Are people participating? If not, why not? The skills we are learning and growing in are meant to be lived out. The experience in our gatherings is just one aspect of what it means to have holistic friendships.

    Serve opportunity: We are still needing help with providing and serving food for Jobs for Life on the night of November 7th. Please contact me if you would like more information. 


Week 3 - Prayerful Listening

WEEK 3 - Prayerful Listening

Leaders, this week is all about praying while listening. Seeking the Holy Spirit's guidance while others share.

With the topic this week, I thought it would be important to ask these questions of you. They are rhetorical of course but essential to consider none the less. How are you doing at cultivating a culture of prayer within your group? Are you praying for those you are leading? 

As disciples of Jesus, we are taught how to pray (Matt. 6:5-15). As well, that God desires that we pray for one another in the Spirit (Ephesians 6:18James 5:161 Timothy 2:1). Yet, praying for others can become an area where we struggle. Either due to inexperience, apathy or even lack of compassion. The reality is that we are weak and first need to ask for the Spirit's help (Romans 8:26-27).

As leaders, you have the opportunity to help form habits and disciplines in people which will grow them in love for God and others. One way to do this is by exemplifying the practice yourself. By examining your heart, repenting if need be, and asking the Lord to change you. Then through your experience, encouraging your group to do the same. Leading by example and leading out of transparency.

Also by challenging those in your group to not only seek growth for themselves but to be looking for ways to help others in the group grow as well.

To help, here are some practical ways that you can cultivate prayer within your group;

  • Invite Others to Pray - Invite someone from your group to pray for; the meal, before the discussion, or at the close of your time together. This shares the responsibility of leadership and encourages a culture of co-discipleship.
     

  • Prayer Request Cards - Have people fill them out and place them in a bowl. Then send out via email or post on your page so people can be praying for each other throughout the week. (Make sure everyone is comfortable with their requests being emailed/ posted)
     

  • Prayer Model - Use a prayer model like T.A.C.O.S. or A.C.T.S. during your gathering to help grow the group in structured prayer to God and for each other.

One of the methods that I would suggest staying away from is the open-ended "prayer request" time. This is where leaders ask if anyone has a request, individuals share - often at length - and the leader asks "who wants to pray for ____?". This assigning practice has good intention but often I've found people often talk more than actually praying. 

I entrust that each of you will identify methods that work best for your particular group. If you need support in this area, please connect with your coach or you can contact me as well. Love you guys!

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all!

- Pastor Tim


MEDIA + LITURGY

Below is a guideline for your time together this week:

  • Vision Cast - This could be a good opportunity to remind the group of your commitment to them and your expectation that they would be committed to each other. It might be helpful to acknowledge the fact that this equipping is meant to challenge and grow us. 
     

  • Key scripture(s) from Sunday; John 16:7-14Galatians 5:17-25
     

  • Training (video) - The video this week features a conversation from a women's group discussion. Similar to the men's group, we pre-recorded these discussions however they are unscripted and unrehearsed. This week's video is a little bit longer, just over 14 minutes, so please plan accordingly.

  • Apprenticeship - This week we are working to help grow people in their attentiveness to the Holy Spirit within their conversations. We will do this by watching the video training and then putting what we learn into practice. Please note that it will be important for people to take notes during these times. We will be using our notes in the coming weeks. Also, coming up, the apprenticeship format will change from listening to the skill of asking on week 5.
     

  • Immersion - Allow enough time to cover this section on pg 36. Similar to other weeks, it should only take 5-10 minutes but is an integral part of developing holistic friendships. During this time you could also ask how the immersion went the previous week.


Week 2 - Pursuing Others

WEEK 2 - PURSUING OTHERS

For an audio-only version of this first section click HERE 

Leaders, imagine for a minute that someone from your group, during the night's discussion, shares with everyone that they are questioning their faith and the validity of the Bible. Or that they are struggling financially and can't even afford a meal. Or that they are hurting physically and just need a little help around the house, maybe even someone to pray with them....and no one in your group responds. It's silent, not a peep, and out of the awkwardness that is looming within the room you, as the leader, quickly think to yourself what can I say to "move on".

I know, it sounds terrible. You're probably thinking, that should never happen in the Christian community. And you are right, it shouldn't. However, sadly, it does. Unfortunately, each of those is something I have experienced first hand in a small group setting. In fact, I am sure that I have responded similarly early on in leadership. I was probably more concerned with the awkwardness of the room than the issue or the person who shared.

In 1 Peter 2:9 God calls us "a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession". These are some powerful titles. He then goes on to say that we are "to proclaim the excellencies of him who called [us] out of darkness into his marvelous light." We have been blessed in Christ and given new life. Through faith in Jesus, we are forgiven, redeemed and are given His righteousness. And we are called to proclaim the greatness of our God in all aspects of our lives.

So, why would a blessed people respond so poorly to one another? Why would this type of reaction occur? How could I have responded this way?

Well I know for myself, I was probably more concerned with the discomfort of the room than the struggle of whoever was hurting. I dropped the ball. See instead of pursuing that person or entering their world I ran from it. I was more concerned with everyone else's comfort. Now, I may have had a bad day, long day, or needed coffee. But the fact remains, I lacked intentionality and concern. I neglected to love someone well and meet them where they were at. 

By God's grace, I have grown in my love for others. And, I would like to believe this wouldn't happen again but if I'm not intentional it could. We all are susceptible to these sinful inclinations and if we are not growing in the knowledge of the truth, in love of others above ourselves we are more likely to hurt than to help heal. 

This week we are desiring to grow our church body in their ability to engage one another. To enter each other's world through conversation and possibly in action. This is an opportunity to step back for a second. To take inventory of our thoughts, hold them captive and love others by intently listening to their words. To pursue them in a godly way as Christ has pursued us.

Thank you for helping in this effort. Helping to grow and equip our church body. For leading by example and loving God's people well. I, along with the staff and elders, are praying for each of you. If there's ever a specific prayer request that you have, please let me know so I can share that with the team. 

Love you guys!
Pastor Tim


MEDIA + LITURGY

Below is a guideline for your time together this week:

  • Vision Cast - Consider sharing with your group how you were personally encouraged or impacted by the stories they shared last week. Acknowledge the wins you saw (people being vulnerable/ authentic/ loving) and commend those who participated. Doing this reinforces the culture you desire to have. It also can help inform new people of what's expected and desired of them. 

  • Key scripture(s) from Sunday; John 11:17-44Hebrews 4:14-16

  • Training (video) - This week we'll learn the next step in having healthy friendships. There is a brief teaching along with clips from one of our pre-recorded group discussions. This week is the guy's group, led by your's truly. The main idea in addition to processing and answering the question provided is to grow in awareness of our thoughts as we listen to others. 

    PLEASE NOTE: There was a mix up on pages 24 and 25 in our workbooks. Under "Group Member" it should read, What were you thinking?. Then under that box, What were you feeling towards OR for them?. Click HERE to download a corrected PDF. Please have your group make that correction in their books before they move into the discussion.  

  • Apprenticeship - After the video, you'll want to huddle up into your same subgroups as last week. Then ask someone from your subgroup to open in prayer. Remind the group that you are learning to enter each other's world through conversation. The goal is to analyze our internal dialogue while someone shares so we can grow in loving and listening to one another more intently.

  • Immersion - Please allow enough time to cover this section on pg 26. It should only take 10- 15 minutes but is an essential part of developing holistic friendships. Go through each question 1-3 to help the group identify ways they can connect and develop relationships with one another. During this time you could also ask how the immersion went the previous week. If your group members have kids, remind them of the Family Application section. Then close with the Discipleship Point and prayer.

    A big thank you to everyone who took attendance last week! If you need help entering that in please let me know. 


WAYS TO SERVE TOGETHER

Here are some ways you and your group can serve together. Please contact me If you know of other opportunities coming up;

  • Jobs for Life - the staff and their families had an opportunity to serve this group last week. It was a huge blessing to be part of this effort. Everyone was very friendly and welcoming. We have one more day that we need to be covered, November 7th. Please let me know ASAP if your group is able to help. You are welcome to team up with another group as well. 
     

  • Feeding & Praying for Homeless in Tacoma - several of our people gather monthly to prep, serve and pray for those less fortunate in the Tacoma area. If you would like to help or find out how your group can join in this effort contact Nick or Frank.

Week 1 - Sharing Stories

WEEK 1 - SHARING STORIES

For an audio-only version of this first section click HERE 

Leaders, as a society, we are often looking for authenticity in things around us. We consume social media, binge watch reality tv, and gorge on podcasts daily. Yet these are almost always one-sided relationships that enable us to keep people at a distance and seemingly protect ourselves from being truly known. From letting others in.

Similar to a front door, we often barricade and guard ourselves against others out of fear of being hurt. Out of concern that if people truly knew us they would, for some reason, reject us. The result then is that when we seek to make friends we can become so selective about who we let in that even Mr. Rogers would be turned away.

Now, this might not be you. You might not struggle in this way but I believe many in our church are. They probably show up on Sundays, possibly are on a serve team and might even attend a DG faithfully yet they are still living at a distance.

Often today our social interactions are so impersonal that we lose sight of how to let others in or forget how to engage with those around us. This is why I believe God put it upon our hearts to create this series. Our desire, as pastors and leaders, is to help equip the body to better care for itself, to better love one another and to experience friendships as God intends.

To start things off this week, we thought it best to dive right in. We want to encourage our people to unlock those doors. To let down their guard and prayerfully share how God has individually shaped them.

So for week one, we will begin with sharing our stories. There are two questions given in the workbook and in this week's video which will set up your time together. The idea is to not to have everyone share their testimony but rather one difficult experience and one that was joyful.

This is an opportunity for people to take that first step in cracking open the door to who they are. This will be challenging for some so please take the time to remind everyone that your gathering is a safe place and that your love for one another is informed and fueled by God's love for us. (1 John 4:10-12). Which is most greatly seen at the cross of Jesus (Romans 5:8).

In the coming weeks, we will continue to build upon this initial experience providing ways in which our people can grow in loving and caring for each other. Each week will build upon the previous making the training, apprenticeship, and immersion that much more impactful.


MEDIA + LITURGY

Below is the video and tools for your gathering along with a guideline for your evening. This week Pastor Bubba will be preaching on John 15:12-17 along with other passages.

  • Vision Cast - as mentioned above this is an opportunity to provide the purpose, goals and desired culture for your group.

  • If you haven't done so yet, have your group quickly fill out the series assessment form. Keep those to analyze and hand out on week 9.

  • Apprenticeship - Start this time by playing the Week 1 video with everyone. Then move into subgroups after. Once settled, have each person write down thoughts on pg 13 and then share. The first question is intended to go deep quickly.

  • Immersion - Please allow enough time to cover this section on pg 14. It should only take 5-10 minutes but is an essential part of developing holistic friendships.


WAYS TO SERVE TOGETHER

Here are some ways you and your group can help serve together. If you know of any other opportunities please let me know so I can post it here in the coming weeks;

  • Jobs for Life - our church is partnering with 2 other churches to support this ministry and their Fall training event in Tacoma. They help single mothers get the skills needed to find and keep good-paying jobs. The curriculum is biblically based and Christ-centered. We will be providing and serving dinner to students, volunteers, and children (36 people in total). The church staff, the Disciple Equip group, and the Francis DG have already taken 3 nights. We just need to cover 3 more nightsLet me know ASAP if your group would like to help!
     

  • Blessing Teachers - consider writing and dropping of notes of appreciation to the staff and teachers of your local school(s).
     

  • Serving a Neighbor - is there anyone nearby that needs help with their yard? Leaves can make a huge mess. Maybe there is someone in the area that you can bless by raking up their leaves?