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Fall  Sophomores  

Week  1:  New  Beginnings    

Foreword  from  Steve  

  We  are  all  looking  for  a  way  to  connect.  You’ve  made  the  transition  from  being  at  the  top   to  the  bottom  (middle  school  to  high  school).  Now  you  find  yourself  at  life  in  the  middle.   Maybe  you  are  settling  down  with  a  group  of  friends  that  you  genuinely  like  and  connect  with.   Maybe  you  are  still  looking  for  ways  to  connect.  One  of  the  things  that  you  read  about  Jesus  is   that  He  is  constantly  reaching  to  people  on  the  outside  and  those  who  are  at  the  bottom  and   brings  them  into  the  center  of  God’s  love.  He  doesn’t  just  tell  you  to  do  this,  He  shows  you   how.  When  you  get  to  the  middle  of  God’s  love  you  find  yourself  in  good  company.  Maybe  you   are  starting  to  make  decisions  about  who  you  want  to  be  for  the  next  three  years.  Maybe  you   are  trying  to  figure  out  who  you  are  and  which  group  you  identify  with  and  belong  to.  Maybe   your  sophomore  year  will  be  about  figuring  out  how  to  exist  in  a  community.  What   communities  are  you  finding  yourself  attached  to?  Are  these  healthy  communities  or  are  they   dysfunctional?     I  asked  someone  from  an  earlier  class,  “what  did  you  learn  from  your  freshman  year  and   what  advice  would  you  give  to  someone  who  was  an  incoming  freshman?”     He  said,  “you  change...  figure  out  who  you  want  to  hang  out  with  and  choose  them   wisely,  because  your  friends  change  you.”       I  thought  that  this  was  an  interesting  concept...  who  you  hang  out  with,  changes  who   you  are...       If  you  reflected  on  your  first  year,  would  you  say  that  this  is  true?  That,  who  you  hang  out   with,  changes  who  you  are?  This  fall  we  are  going  to  talk  about  friends,  community  and  taking   a  look  at  how  Jesus  picked  his  friends  and  his  community.  I  believe  Jesus  transforms  (changes)   they  way  we  do  community.       with  Lovingkindness,   Steve  Dang   High  School  Pastor                      

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Fall  Sophomores  

Introduction     Before  we  kick  this  off  I  want  us  to  be  reminded  about  some  things  that  we  as  Student   Ministries  value:   1. To  those  of  you  who  know  what’s  up-­‐  Please  be  open  to  learning  new  things.  Please   realize  that  faith  is  a  journey  and  you  don’t  need  to  be  frustrated  because  others  aren’t   where  you  are.  Please  listen  in,  and  be  courteous  to  those  who  have  differing  views   that  you  own.  If  you  feel  like  you  need  to  keep  growing,  then  take  faith  into  your  own   hands  and  start  exploring  faith  on  your  own  and  start  challenging  yourself.  For  each   series  I  will  have  a  reading  list  for  you  to  check  out  if  you  want  to  see  more.  Most  of  the   books  I  have  in  my  office  if  you  want  to  check  out  more.  Also,  feel  free  to  schedule   some  one-­‐on-­‐one  time  with  one  of  your  small  group  leaders  and  look  for  more  directed   discipleship.  We’d  love  to  do  that  for  you.     2. To  those  of  you  who  are  just  checking  us  out-­‐  Don’t  feel  pressured,  don’t  feel  like  you   need  to  be  embarrassed  because  you  don’t  know  how  to  look  stuff  up  in  the  Bible  or   where  to  begin  (trust  me...  we  were  all  there  once).  Just  listen  in  and  be  courteous  to   those  who  have  differing  views  than  your  own.  Feel  free  to  chime  in  and  let  us  know   your  thoughts  without  feeling  like  you  are  being  judged.  Know  that  this  stuff  takes  a   lifetime  to  master,  but  we’ll  help  you  get  there.  If  you  have  some  more  questions   please  feel  free  to  schedule  some  one-­‐on-­‐one  time  with  one  of  your  small  group   leaders  to  follow  up  on  more  questions  you  have  about  God,  life,  love  and  the  pursuit   of  happiness.     3. To  everyone  in  between-­‐  Know  that  there  are  going  to  be  weeks  where  you  think  you   know  the  answer  and  there  are  going  to  be  weeks  where  you  are  going  to  be   challenged.  The  beauty  of  faith  is  that  it’s  a  ride,  with  ups-­‐and-­‐downs.  We  know  that   there  are  going  to  be  weeks  where  you  don’t  care  and  you’re  wondering  whether  or   not  God  cares.  We  know  there  are  going  to  be  weeks  where  you  feel  like  God  is  literally   walking  right  next  to  you.  We  know  there  are  going  to  be  weeks  where  you  wonder  if   God  is  even  real.  Voice  these,  jot  them  down,  and  see  if  you  notice  a  pattern  between   what  you  experience  in  life  and  what  you  experience  in  your  own  relationship  with   God.  Please  don’t  check  out  because  you  are  a  very,  very,  very  vital  voice  and  opinions   matter  to  your  small  group.  Let  God  surprise  you.  Please  schedule  one-­‐on-­‐one  time   with  one  of  your  small  group  leaders  and  see  if  you  can  work  some  of  your  doubts  out,   see  if  you  can  work  some  of  your  questions  out,  after  all,  we  are  here  for  you.       Reunited  (and  it  feels  so  good):   • Catch  us  up  on  your  summer  and  in  your  life?   • How  did  you  experience  God  this  summer?   • Did  you  make  any  new  commitments,  start  something  new?     • What  did  you  learn  about  yourself  this  year?  

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Fall  Sophomores  

  Let’s  get  real:     • Reflect  on  this:  Rylan  Andersen  (class  of  2012)  said  in  his  Soundtrack,  “You  get  what  you   put  into  it…  so  if  you’re  going  to  be  here,  be  here.”   o The  biggest  different  for  him  in  small  groups  was  his  own  attitude.  How  does  your   attitude  affect  your  small  group  experience?     o The  truth  is,  “you  get  what  you  put  into  it”,  can  you  coast  through  youth  group?   Sure.  But  the  gold,  is  in  your  presence.  You  are  a  vital  member  of  this  small  group.   Do  you  believe  that?   • I’m  going  to  encourage  you  over  the  next  year  to  really  make  an  effort  to  get  connected.   The  truth  is  getting  connected  is  as  much  about  you  as  it  is  about  us.  We  are  different   from  every  other  group  in  the  world.  Why?  Because  of  one  question,  “how’s  it  with  your   soul?”  Teams  make  you  a  better  athlete.  Scouts  makes  you  a  better…  (I  don’t  even   know),  but  we,  we  want  to  see  your  spiritual  life  blossom.       Let  me  encourage  you  with  this  challenge  this  year:   • We  can’t  go  forward  until  we  make  peace.  Let’s  face  it,  all  of  us  are  different.  I’m  very   different  from  some  of  my  leaders,  but  there  is  something  about  Jesus  that  brings   people  with  differences  together.  You  might  be  surprised  at  the  friends  you  make  when   you  start  hanging  out  with  people  you  wouldn’t  normally.     • This  year,  try  it  and  make  a  real  effort  to  make  it  happen.     • So  here’s  my  question  to  you:  what  are  you  going  to  do  to  make  that  happen?     Week  2:  764  Friends  on  Facebook,  but  who  do  I  really  know?       There’s  a  car  commercial  where  this  teenage  girl  is  talking  about  how  she  has  700  friends   on  Facebook,  in  comparison  to  her  parents  who,  “only  have  4  friends”  and  then  the  video  cuts   to  her  parents  out  riding  bikes.  In  the  final  scene  she’s  playing  on  her  computer  and  says,  “now   this  is  real  living”  when  in  reality  her  parents  are  out  enjoying  their  life.  This  commercial  got   me  thinking,  how  do  I  define  community?  I  was  talking  with  a  group  of  guys  who  graduated  a   few  years  ago  about  their  thoughts  on  youth  group  and  reflections  on  their  four  years  of  high   school...  When  I  asked  them,  “what  advice  would  you  give  to  small  groups?”       They  said  something  really  interesting...  they  said,  “we  always  wanted  to  do  a  Bible   study...  we  had  every  opportunity  to  do  it...  we  could  have  done  it  under  the  guidance  of   leaders,  but  we  never  capitalized  on  it...”       I  asked  them,  “Reflecting  on  high  school,  what  would  you  do  now?”  

• What  did  you  struggle  with  last  year?   • What  advice  would  you  give  to  a  freshman?  

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Fall  Sophomores  

  They  said,  “Grow  close  to  your  small  group,  they  understand  you  in  ways  that  your  other   friends  won’t.  Your  small  group  gives  you  the  spiritual  support  that  you  won’t  get  anywhere   else.”     We  ended  up  talking  more  about  what  we  as  leaders  could  do  to  make  things  better  and   they  all  said  that  there  is  really  nothing  more  that  we  could  do  as  leaders.  All  of  the  resources   are  there,  but  really  it’s  your  own  will  and  desire  to  utilize  and  benefit  from  those  resources.       This  doesn’t  just  go  for  your  small  group,  but  this  goes  for  all  of  your  relationships.  It’s   about  being  intentional.  You  get  what  you  put  into  it.  If  you  don’t  want  to  get  to  know   someone,  you  wont.  If  you  want  your  small  group  to  be  something  more...  something  deeper,   then  its  time  to  do  a  little  soul  searching.    The  question  is...  who  do  you  want  your  small  group   to  be?  What  do  you  want  your  small  group  to  be  about?       Connecting:   • What  do  you  want  your  small  group  to  be  about?   •  Where  do  you  guys  want  your  small  group  to  be  when  you  guys/girls  are  seniors?   •  What  do  you  think  you  can  do  personally  to  contribute  to  the  quality  of  your  small   group?     •  How  will  you  be  more  intentional  about  creating  a  healthy  and  growing  community?   • Taking  highlights  and  lowlights  deeper,  what  have  been  your  high  and  lows  of  small   groups,  who  do  you  think  is  in  control  of  tempo  of  small  groups?  (not  so  much  us  as  it  is   you,  you  make  this  what  it  is)     Reflection:   • Where  we  are  headed:  We  can  spend  our  entire  lives  around  people  and  still  feel  alone.  It   happens  at  your  school,  but  I  also  think  it  happens  at  church.   • Think  about  Facebook,  how  many  friends  do  you  have?  How  many  of  those  people   actually  know  you?   •  Is  it  possible  for  you  to  be  standing  in  a  room  full  of  people  and  still  feel  alone?   Of  course  there  are  times  where  it’s  O.K.  to  be  alone...  but  I  don’t  want  to  be  alone   forever,  I  don’t  think  God  made  us  that  way.     •  Is  it  possible  to  go  to  church  and  feel  alone?   •  Is  it  possible  to  come  to  our  small  group...  and  feel  completely  and  utterly  alone?   • Why  do  you  think  that  is?     • How  is  that  even  possible?   •  Church  is  supposed  to  be  the  exact  opposite.     • How  do  you  contribute  to  it?        

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Fall  Sophomores  

Movement     As  a  small  group  I  want  you  guys  to  talk  about  what  you  guys  want  to  be  about  for  the   last  three  years  that  you  are  in  high  school.  Maybe  last  year  you  spent  time  talking  about  it...   maybe  it’s  time  for  you  to  revisit  what  you  guys  talked  about.  Maybe  it’s  time  that  we  write  a   covenant  about  what  we  are  going  to  be  about  and  hold  each  other  to  it.  The  reality  is...  high   school  goes  by  way  too  fast,  it’s  way  too  socially  difficult,  and  way  too  confusing  for  you  to  do   it  alone.  Unlike  your  other  communities  that  you  have  at  school,  let  this  one  connect  with  your   soul.         Prayer     Father,  being  in  high  school  can  be  awesome.  Sometimes  it  can  be  really  dumb.  In  those   times  where  I  find  it  difficult  to  be  me,  may  I  allow  you  to  define  me.  In  those  times  where  I   find  it  difficult  to  connect,  may  I  lean  into  my  small  group.  Give  me  the  courage  to  have   conversations  that  share  what’s  going  on  in  my  soul.  Give  me  grace  and  mercy  because  I  know   I’m  going  to  mess  up.  Amen.       Week  3:  Belonging     We  talked  about  this  last  year:  Who  you  hang  out  with,  changes  who  you  are...  Have  you   seen  this  to  be  something  that  is  true?  How  have  you  seen  that  to  be  true  in  the  past  year?  Do   you  find  yourself  changing  depending  on  which  group  you  are  hanging  out  with  at  the  time?   Do  you  find  yourself  tired...  maybe  confused  about  who  you  are?  Are  you  burned  out  on  trying   to  fit  in  already?    Maybe  you  are  asking  yourself,  “who  or  what  do  I  let  define  me?”  The  reality   is:  there  are  a  lot  of  things  are  trying  to  define  you.  Perfect  example  is  the  clothing  company   Tapout.  Their  shirts  are  marketed  so  to  make  you  feel  like  no  one  can  mess  with  you  if  you   wear  their  clothes  and  they  do  this  by  putting  their  clothes  on  real  fighters.  Unfortunately,   when  you  look  at  the  people  who  wear  this  stuff,  it’s  usually  not  the  truth  is  it?  Think  about   the  commercials  that  you  see,  what  are  they  trying  to  define  you  as?         Connecting:   • Do  you  think  people  try  and  define  you?  How  do  you  think  your  clothes  define  you?   o Think  about  the  company  Neff,  who  typically  wears  their  clothing?  Who  do  you   think  they  are  marketing  to?   o Abercrombie  and  Fitch?  The  list  can  go  on  an  on.  Have  you  ever  thought  about   that?   • Do  the  clothes  you  wear,  the  fashions  you  subscribe  to,  or  the  groups  you  hang  out   with,  define  you?  (I  think  all  of  these  trends  point  to  something  deeper,  I  think  it’s  a  way   of  us  belonging  and  fitting  in).   • Belonging  and  fitting  in  are  difficult  things  to  do.  Does  it  come  easy  for  you?  Do  you  ever   get  tired  of  holding  up  the  appearances?    

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Fall  Sophomores  

• You’re  going  to  read  a  short  selection  written  by  N.T.  Wright  that  talks  about  our  need   to  belong  as  a  very  normal  and  human  experiences.         Reading:       ...most  people  don’t  want  complete,  long-­‐term  solitariness.  In  fact,  most  people,  even   those  who  are  naturally  shy  and  introverted,  don’t  normally  choose  to  be  alone  all  the  time.  Of   those  who  opt  for  a  solitary  life,  some  do  so  for  religious  reasons,  becoming  hermits.  Others   do  so  to  escape  danger...But  those  who  make  such  choices  are  usually  conscious  that  what   they’re  doing  is  abnormal.  Indeed,  sometimes  when  people  are  locked  up  by  themselves  they   quite  literally  go  mad.  Without  human  society,  they  don’t  know  who  they  are  anymore.  It   seems  that  we  humans  were  designed  to  find  our  purpose  and  meaning  not  simply  in   ourselves  and  our  own  inner  lives,  but  in  one  another  and  in  shared  meanings  and  purposes   of  a  family,  a  street,  a  workplace,  a  community,  a  town,  a  nation...  in  a  true  community,   everyone  is  in  it  together,  for  good  or  ill...     We  all  know  that  we  are  made  to  live  together,  but  we  all  find  that  doing  so  is  more   difficult  than  we  had  imagined.  And  it  is  within  these  settings,  large  and  small,  but  particularly   at  the  more  personal  and  intimate  end  of  the  scale,  that  we  find  the  natural  setting  of  those   characteristic  signs  of  human  life:  laughter  and  tears.  We  find  each  other  funny.  We  find  each   other  tragic.  We  find  ourselves,  and  our  relationships,  funny  and  tragic.  This  is  who  we  are.   We  can’t  avoid  being  this  way,  and  we  don’t  want  to,  even  though  things  often  don’t  work   out  the  way  we  want...     One  of  the  central  elements  of  the  Christian  story  is  the  claim  that  the  paradox  of   laughter  and  tears,  woven  as  it  is  deep  into  the  heart  of  all  human  experience,  is  woven  also   deep  into  the  heart  of  God.      ★ Simply  Christian  ★   N.T.  Wright       Rethinking:   • I  think  fashion,  fads,  groups,  clubs  are  all  ways  of  us  finding  “shared  meaning”   (belonging).   • What  do  you  think  it  means  to  belong?  I  think  it’s  deeper  than  just  “fitting  in”  I  think   “belonging”  somewhere  shapes  our  identity.     o How  does  God  shape  your  identity?   • Belonging  isn’t  easy.  N.T.  Wright  talks  about  ‘laughter  and  tears’  do  you  think  this  is  true   in  your  own  relationships?  (Whether  with  best  friends  or  with  dating,  I  believe  that  they   are  filled  with  both  laughter  and  tears)   • Even  when  you  are  best  friends  there  are  bound  to  be  times  where  things  are  rough...   what  did  it  take  to  work  it  out?     • Do  you  run  from  conflict  or  try  and  resolve  and  learn  from  it?  

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Fall  Sophomores  

  Life  on  Life:   High-­‐Lights,  Low-­‐Lights,  here  is  your  opportunity  to  share  about  your  life.     Reflection:     The  most  perfect  example  of  relationship  is  God  himself.  This  is  reflected  in  the  life  of   Jesus.  Hanging  out  with  Jesus  changed  who  the  disciples  were.  They  came  in  as  a  rough-­‐ necked,  motley  crew  (not  the  band)  and  over  the  course  of  three  years  they  became  leaders  in   a  world-­‐changing  movement.  A  movement  that  we  still  see  today,  2,000  years  later.  One  of   the  cool  things  about  being  a  youth  pastor  is  seeing  you  guys  grow  up  and  change.  I  love   seeing  who  you  are  when  you  first  come  into  the  group,  and  then  seeing  who  you  become   when  you  guys  and  girls  graduate.  I  challenge  you  to  take  the  advice  of  the  classes  that  came   before  you  and  capitalize  on  your  small  group  time.  This  group  is  so  unique  and  so  different   from  your  other  groups  because  it  speaks  into  your  soul.  The  members  of  this  group  might   know  you  in  a  way  that  others  might  not  ever  see  or  understand.  Don’t  let  that  go  to  waste.   You  belong  here.       Prayer     One  of  the  central  elements  of  the  Christian  story  is  the  claim  that  the  paradox  of   laughter  and  tears,  woven  as  it  is  deep  into  the  heart  of  all  human  experience,  is  woven  also   deep  into  the  heart  of  God.  As  we  grow  in  our  relationship  with  you,  we  know  more  and  more   what  your  heart  is  all  about.  As  we  grow  in  relationship  with  you,  may  we  grow  in  our  love  for   each  other.  Humble  us  and  give  us  courage  in  those  moments  to  say  that  we  are  sorry  when  it   is  needed.  Grant  us  grace  to  accept  someone’s  apology.  May  we  always  be  learning  what  it  is   to  be  in  true  community  by  loving  like  a  true  community.         Week  3:  Jesus  and  Intentional  Communities     There  comes  a  time  when  you  are  either  in  the  early  stages  of  a  relationship  or  just   before  the  start  of  a  relationship  where  you  say,  I  want  to  pursue  this  relationship,  or  I  want  to   do  what  it  takes  to  keep  this  relationship  going.  I’m  not  just  talking  about  dating,  but  even  in   normal  everyday  friendships  we  make  an  effort  to  either  grow  our  friendships  or  choose  to  let   it  die.  Jesus  wants  us  to  have  friendships  that  grow;  friendships  that  make  a  lasting  impact  on   who  we  will  be.  Jesus  wants  our  communities  to  push  us  to  be  the  best  possible  person  that   we  could  be.  Jesus  spent  His  life  leaving  His  mark  on  His  community  and  His  community  

• What  do  you/what  can  you  learn  from  your  conflicts  with  your  parents/friends?  How   can  you  apply  them  to  make  your  relationships  better?   • Your  relationship  with  God  can  be  as  up  and  down  as  your  relationship  with  your   friends.   • How  would  being  in  relationship  with  God  change  who  you  are?    

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Fall  Sophomores  

leaving  a  mark  on  Him.     One  of  the  saddest  realities  about  small  groups,  (yes,  even  your  small  group)  is  that  it  is   possible  to  be  in  a  small  group  with  the  same  group  of  people  for  four  years  and  not  know   each  other  more  than  your  name.  This  has  everything  to  do  with  our  own  effort  and  our  own   intention.  You  can  be  in  a  room  with  the  same  person  for  a  long  time  and  not  know  them  at   all.  If  you  choose  to  ignore  them,  not  listen  to  them,  or  not  to  listen  to  their  stories,  the  reality   is  that  it’s  really  sad.  Here’s  my  challenge  to  you:  choose  not  to  be  that  group.  Choose  not  to   be  the  group  that  doesn’t  know  each  other  deeper  than  each  other’s  name.  If  you  choose   community,  if  you  choose  to  put  effort  and  intention  into  getting  to  know  each  other...   something  really  cool  can  start  to  happen.  You  start  to  see  church  the  way  that  it  was  meant   to  be.       Connecting:     •  High-­‐Lights,  Low-­‐Lights,  here  is  your  opportunity  to  share  about  your  life,  but  as  you  do   consider  these  questions:   •  Have  you  ever  had  a  friendship  that  used  to  be  really  strong  but  then  for  whatever   reason  fizzled  out?   • What  happened?  Take  us  through  the  sequence  of  events?  Did  you  notice  any  common   threads  between  all  of  you?  I  bet  you  after  a  while  you  realized  that  you  stop  talking  to   that  person  and  that  really  sealed  the  end  of  your  relationship.     • How  intentional  are  you  when  you  choose  your  friends?       Reading:  Acts  2:22-­‐47     Re-­‐Thinking:   • Jesus  didn’t  just  choose  these  guys  out  of  the  blue,  why  do  you  think  he  chose  them   specifically?   o It’s  actually  pretty  amazing  that  Peter,  just  a  rough  neck  fisherman  would  become   a  preacher.     • It’s  actually  pretty  amazing  that  Jesus  would  use  this  group  to  start  a  movement.   • The  Disciples  and  the  Early  Church  had  a  choice  and  they  choose  to  follow  Jesus,  why  do   you  think  that  is?   • Think:  Why  do  you  or  don’t  you  follow  Jesus?     • Are  you  the  kind  of  person  that  Jesus  would  choose?  (I  believe  the  answer  no  matter  who   you  are  or  where  you  came  from,  is  “yes!”   • Think  about  how  you  form  relationships  with  other  people,  and  now  think,  if  you  were  to   get  into  a  relationship  with  Jesus?  What  would  you  need  to  do?      

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Fall  Sophomores  

Reflect:     Like  any  relationship,  if  you  want  to  get  to  know  someone,  if  you  want  to  really  know   someone  deeper  than  their  name,  then  you  really  need  to  pursue  them,  you  really  need  to   invest  in  them.  I  think  somewhere  in  the  process,  a  piece  of  you  rubs  into  them  and  a  piece  of   them  rubs  into  you.  Who  you  hang  out  with,  changes  who  you  are.  Jesus,  picking  out  his   disciples,  spending  three  years  with  them,  showing  them,  teaching  them,  coaching  them,   changed  the  Disciples.  It  changed  their  values,  it  changed  the  way  that  they  related  to  each   other  and  it  changed  what  they  live  for.  Leaders:  share  your  own  stories  of  how  hanging  out   with  certain  people  rubbed  off  on  you.       Week  4:  Always  Open     Jesus  is  always  talking  about  how  the  kingdom  of  God  is  upside-­‐down  and  inside-­‐out,   which  means  that  the  people  that  you  would  normally  think  are  on  the  outside;  maybe  they   are  in  the  inside.  The  Kingdom  of  God  is  for  broken  and  jacked  up  people.  That’s  the  reality.   The  community  of  God  is  an  open  circle,  meaning  that  anyone  is  allowed  to  enter  and  be  a   part  of  it.  It  means  that  even  those  who  stand  on  the  outside  just  listening  in  can  feel  included   and  are  invited  into  the  center  of  the  party.  Throughout  Jesus’  ministry  He  is  eating  with  and   hanging  out  with  people.  Who  He  hung  out  with  shows  the  world  who  God  cares  about.  Who   he  hung  out  with  was  a  way  of  encouraging  His  followers  to:  include  these  people  in  your  lives   the  way  I  do  and  love  these  people  like  I  love  these  people.  Sometimes  we  get  people  who   come  through  our  small  group  for  the  first  time  and  we  do  nothing  to  make  them  feel   included.  Lets  spend  sometime  thinking  about  how  we  can  be  a  community  that  is  always   open.         Connecting:     • High-­‐Lights,  Low-­‐Lights,  here  is  your  opportunity  to  share  about  your  life,  but  as  you  do   consider  these  questions:   • What  do  people  do  to  make  you  feel  welcome?   • Have  there  been  times  in  this  small  group  where  we  didn’t  welcome  others?  What  can   we  do  better  next  time?   • Throughout  scripture  God  calls  his  people  to  include  others.  Check  this  out.     Reading:  Leviticus  19:30;  Deuteronomy  16:11;  Psalms  38:13;  Matthew  25:35;  Romans  12:9-­‐13     Reflection:     Hospitality  is  part  of  the  Christian  story.  God  commanded  his  people  to  show  and  practice   hospitality  to  strangers,  widows,  orphans,  outsiders,  unsavory  people  etc...  King  David  knew   God’s  heart  for  the  stranger  and  likens  himself  to  a  stranger  so  that  God  might  have  mercy  on   him  (Psalm  38:13).  Jesus  himself  commands  us  to  take  care  of  strangers  because  it’s  like  taking  

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Fall  Sophomores  

care  of  Him  (Matthew  25:35).  Paul  writes  to  encourage  the  church  to  welcome  the  outsiders,   but  also  to  welcome  each  other  as  well  knowing  that  we  can  sometimes  exclude  others  in  our   own  community  (Romans  12:9-­‐13).  So  my  question  is...   •  What  makes  you  feel  welcome  when  you  step  into  a  new  situation?   •  What  do  people  do  to  make  you  feel  welcome?   •  How  do  you  show  people  that  they  are  welcome?     •  How  will  we  show  hospitality  to  strangers?   •  What  will  we  do  to  make  others  feel  welcome?     Movement   •  Maybe  we  need  to  start  in  our  own  hearts...  are  there  people  that  you  say,  “no!  you   can’t  come  in!”  to?   •  Why  is  it  difficult  to  include  others  into  your  peer  groups?   •  What  makes  it  difficult  for  you  to  include  others?   • Who  are  the  people  you  tend  to  exclude?   • Is  there  a  theme  to  the  kind/group/personality  of  the  people  that  you  exclude?   • This  week  I  want  you  to  go  out  and  make  an  intentional  effort  to  get  to  know  someone   that  you  would  normally  exclude,  it  doesn’t  have  to  be  big,  but  I  want  you  to  find   something  that  you  and  that  person  have  in  common.       Prayer     I  openly  admit  that  there  are  certain  people  I  don’t  get  along  with.  I  openly  admit  that   that  there  are  people  that  I  exclude.  Help  us  to  see  people  the  way  that  you  see  people.  When   it  gets  hard  to  love  someone,  may  we  see  them  through  your  eyes.  Help  us  to  find  the  little   things  in  common  that  we  might  be  able  to  grow  those  into  deep,  meaningful,  and  life   changing  relationships.     Week  5:  Love     Love  involves  sacrifice.  It  involves  risk.  It  involves  effort.  Love  fuels  community.  Love  glues   community.  Love  challenges  community  and  pushes  it  to  go  deeper.  When  we  are  in   community  we  really  learn  whether  or  not  what  we  say  believe  is  what  we  really  believe.  Of   course  this  is  the  difficult  part.  You  can’t  learn  how  to  forgive  unless  you  are  put  in  a  situation   where  you  need  to  forgive  someone  who  has  wronged  you.  You  can’t  learn  how  to  not  give  up   on  someone  until  someone  else  has  given  up.  There  is  a  great  difference  in  going  to  church   and  being  the  church.  The  difference  is  that  you  can  go  to  church  and  just  listen  and  leave.  To   be  the  church  is  to  live  out  and  practice  the  difficult  acts  of  love  that  test  how  much  Christ’s   love  has  transformed  you  and  spilled  over  into  the  lives  of  the  people  around  you.       Connecting:    

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Fall  Sophomores  

• •

High-­‐Lights,  Low-­‐Lights,  here  is  your  opportunity  to  share  about  your  life,  but  as  you  do   consider  these  questions:   If  you  say  you  love  someone,  is  that  enough?  It  is  usually  followed  by  action,  right?  Love   involves  action.    

  Readings:  1  Corinthians  13-­‐14     Reflections:     You  normally  read  this  passage  at  weddings,  but  the  reality  is  that  Paul  isn’t  talking  about   marriages  in  this  passage,  he’s  talking  about  the  church.  He’s  talking  about  the  way  that  the   church  is  supposed  to  live  out  love  for  each  other.  Paul  is  telling  us  what  love  should  look  like   when  they  are  in  a  Christian  community.     •  Take  a  look  at  1  Corinthians...  is  there  any  aspect  of  love  that  is  particularly  difficult  for   you  personally  to  practice?     •  What  draws  you  to  Christian  community?  What  draws  you  to  this  small  group?   • Look  at  this  list,  are  there  things  that  this  group  is  good  at?  Are  there  things  that  this   group  is  bad  at?   • How  can  you  improve  the  way  that  you  love  each  other  in  your  small  group?     Movement     This  week  I  want  you  to  pick  an  aspect  of  love  described  in  1  Corinthians  13  and  I  want   you  to  write  it  down  and  think  about  it  as  you  go  about  your  day.  (i.e.  What  does  it  mean  for   me  to  love  patiently,  kindly,  not  boastfully,  etc…?)  Jot  down  your  thoughts.       Then  I  want  you  to  find  a  way  to  make  it  applicable  to  whatever  communities  that  you  are   a  part  of.  For  example:  Let  love  be  patient  as  you  spend  time  with  your  family.  Let  your  love  be   patient  when  you  are  sitting  at  the  lunch  table  with  friends.  Let  your  love  be  patient  when  are   walking  with  a  friend.  Let  your  love  be  patient  as  you  interact  with  your  small  group.  Pick  one   and  let’s  talk  about  what  happens  next  week.       Prayer:       Here  is  your  opportunity  to  fulfill  one  of  the  most  basic  practices  of  the  Christian  church...   praying  for  one  another.                  

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Fall  Sophomores  

Week  6:  Laughter     There  is  something  beautifully  connecting  about  laughter.  There  is  something  about   seeing  something  funny  on  the  internet,  or  hearing  a  funny  story  that  makes  you  want  to   share  it  with  others  so  that  they  can  share  in  the  same  things  that  you  laughed  at.  There  is   something  soothing,  and  ice  breaking  about  laughter.  It’s  not  something  that  you  can  fake   easily  so  there  is  something  uniquely  genuine  about  laughing.  Communities  are  built  and   started  around  laughter.  Laughter  unites  groups  of  people  and  immediately  makes  people  feel   welcome...  like  they  are  on  the  inside...  like  they  are  a  part  of  the  group.       Communities  that  can’t  laugh  together  probably  won’t  love  each  other.  Notice  that  I  said,   “laugh  together”  and  not  “laugh  at  each  other”...  although  that  happens  sometimes...  it  is   never  meant  to  be  in  a  mean  way.  There  is  something  to  be  said  about  the  genuineness  of  a   community  when  they  can  laugh  together.  Maybe  that’s  why  we  can  always  tell  when   something  is  off  we  might  fake  a  laugh  to  break  the  awkward  silence.  Laughter  invites  people   to  participate  whether  they  are  telling  the  joke  or  not.  That’s  why  we  love  getting  together   with  friends  to  watch  shows  like  How  I  Met  Your  Mother.    Tonight  we  are  going  to  get  a  chance   to  be  together  to  share  stories  and  get  to  know  each  other  from  the  stories  that  we  tell.  I  want   you  to  pay  attention  to  the  reasons  why  we  share  these  stories.  I  want  you  to  pay  attention  to   how  vulnerable  you  have  to  be  in  order  to  share  these  stories.       Connecting:     • Did  anyone  get  a  chance  to  practice  an  aspect  of  love  from  last  week?  What  was  it  and   tell  us  a  little  bit  about  what  happened.     •  High-­‐Lights,  Low-­‐Lights,  here  is  your  opportunity  to  share  about  your  life,  but  as  you  do   consider  these  questions:   •  What  is  something  that  made  you  laugh  this  week?     •  Tell  us  of  a  time  when  you  felt  welcome  because  you  could  laugh.       Watch:     I  want  each  of  you  to  think  of  a  you  tube  video  that  makes  you  laugh  (please  be  clean,  use   judgment)  and  I  want  you  to  share  it  with  your  group.  I  like  the  one  about  the  girl  and  the   cupcakes  for  dinner.     Reflect:       When  you  guys  have  all  taken  your  turn,  what  things  did  you  laugh  about  as  community?     Which  one  made  your  group  laugh  the  most?       What  was  so  funny  about  it?     Were  there  videos  that  people  didn’t  get?       How  did  the  group  react?  

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Fall  Sophomores  

    What  does  that  say  about  the  group?     Movement:     This  week  I  want  you  to  spend  time  with  a  member  of  your  small  group  that  you  wouldn’t   normally  hang  out  with  it.  Call  them  up,  go  to  the  mall,  see  a  movie,  get  coffee,  get  lunch,  go   shopping,  do  something  fun.  But  I  really  want  you  to  make  this  happen.     Prayer:     Here  is  your  opportunity  to  fulfill  one  of  the  most  basic  practices  of  the  Christian  church...   praying  for  one  another.       Week  7:  Transformation       We  emphasize  community  because  we  believe  that  who  you  hang  out  with  changes  who   you  are.  Christian  faith  takes  place  in  community.  You  change  when  you  are  in  a  genuine   community.  You  grow  when  you  are  in  community.  In  short,  we  believe  that  community  is   everything.  We  want  to  be  one  of  the  few  communities  that  help  to  change  you  for  the  better.   We  want  to  be  one  of  the  few  communities  that  will  stand  by  your  side  when  no  one  else  will.   Community  tests  what  you  believe,  it  challenges  what  you  cling  on  to,  but  its  always  done  in   love  and  that  is  what  allows  you  to  grow.  You  won’t  grow  if  you  don’t  get  challenged.  We  do   small  groups  because  we  believe  that  faith  happens  best  when  you  are  with  others.  We  do   small  groups  in  an  attempt  to  figure  out  what  community  looks  like.  We  do  small  groups  to   allow  the  community  to  take  part  in  our  personal  spiritual  journey  and  speak  into  the  way  we   live  out  our  Christian  walk.         Connecting:     •  High-­‐Lights,  Low-­‐Lights,  here  is  your  opportunity  to  share  about  your  life,  but  as  you  do   consider  these  questions:   •  Did  any  of  you  get  a  chance  to  hang  out  with  someone  from  our  small  group  that  you   wouldn’t  have  normally  hung  out  with?  What  did  you  guys  do?  Tell  us  something   interesting  that  you  learned  about  the  other  person.       Reading:       The  Bible  is  a  communal  book.  It  came  from  people  writing  in  communities,  and  it  was   often  written  to  communities.  Remember  that  the  printing  press  wasn’t  invented  until  the   1400’s.  Prior  to  that  very  few,  if  any,  people  had  their  own  copies  of  the  Bible.  In  Jesus’  day,  an   entire  village  could  probably  afford  only  one  copy  of  the  Scriptures,  if  that.  Reading  the  Bible   alone  was  unheard  of,  if  people  could  even  read.  For  most  of  church  history,  people  heard  the  

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Fall  Sophomores  

Bible  read  aloud  in  a  room  full  of  people.  You  heard  it,  discussed  it,  studied  it,  argued  about  it,   and  made  decisions  about  it  as  a  group,  a  community.  Most  of  the  “yous”  in  the  Bible  are   plural.  Groups  of  people  receiving  these  words.  SO  if  one  person  went  off  the  deep  end  with   an  interpretation  or  opinion,  the  others  were  right  there  to  keep  that  person  in  check.  In  a   synagogue,  most  of  the  people  knew  the  text  by  heart.  When  someone  got  up  to  teach  or   share  insight,  chances  are  everybody  knew  the  text  that  person  was  talking  on  and  already  had   their  own  opinions  about  it.  You  saw  yourself  and  those  around  you  as  taking  part  in  a  huge   discussion  that  has  gone  on  for  thousands  of  years...     Community,  community,  community.  Together,  with  others,  wrestling  and  searching  and   engaging  the  Bible  as  a  group  of  people  hungry  to  know  God  in  order  to  follow  God...   ★  Velvet  Elvis  ★ Rob Bell     Reflect:   •  Over  the  past  few  weeks,  how  has  this  community  (your  small  group)  helped  you?   •  How  can  we  help  you  better?   •  How  can  you  help  others  better?   •  What  can  you  do  to  make  this  small  group  a  community  that  truly  connects  with  God   and  with  each  other?         Over  the  next  few  weeks  we  are  going  into  a  new  series  where  we  as  a  community  will   look  at  Scripture  together  and  process  it  together.       Movement:     This  week  I  want  you  to  spend  time  with  a  member  of  your  small  group  that  you  wouldn’t   normally  hang  out  with  it.  Call  them  up,  go  to  the  mall,  see  a  movie,  get  coffee,  get  lunch,  go   shopping,  do  something  fun.  But  I  really  want  you  to  make  this  happen.     Prayer:     Here  is  your  opportunity  to  fulfill  one  of  the  most  basic  practices  of  the  Christian   church...  praying  for  one  another.