Thursday, March 26, 2009

click here for the printer-friendly version of the 3/29/09 outline

Lifegroup map 3/29/09 “Magnified Motivation” John 4:43-54

Please choose any One of the following Ice breakers:

(Everyone doesn’t have to answer the same one… pick the one you like!)

  • Finish this sentence: “America’s current economic crisis… ___________”

  • How do you deal with times of uncertainty?

  • What was your favorite family pet when you were growing up?

Life exploration time: Read out-loud John 4:43-54

Brief note: This official who approaches Jesus traveled at least 14 miles to ask Jesus to heal his son. This father would’ve more than likely exhausted every/all/several resources prior to taking a chance on Jesus:

  • He would’ve had access to the finest physicians.

  • He also had the financial resources, being a royal authority, to seek any other potential alternatives.

Keep in mind that even with all of the privileges/benefits of his powerful position, the father’s desperation/urgency prompted him to seek out Jesus, apparently, as a last resort. Yet, Jesus not only helps this Gentile family physically, the end result is a spiritual healing too!

~ In Jn 4:43-44. Consider and discuss which town John refers to.

Is this an implication that the Samaritan town, Sychar, is His hometown; if not why not?

~ Jn 4:48-50.

  • Why does Jesus seem frustrated?

  • Why doesn’t this “frustration” deter the father?

  • What’s the actual reassurance (if any) he gets from Jesus?

~ Jn 4:50-53. Share your thoughts regarding the father’s quest for a physical healing for his son but unintentionally/unexpectedly ends up finding faith and believes in Jesus…

- Also, what implications exist for us today in light of this twist of events?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Click here for the printer-friendly version of the 3/22/09 outline

Lifegroup map 3/22/09 “Ripe” John 4:27-45

Please choose any One of the following Ice breakers:

(Everyone doesn’t have to answer the same one… pick the one you like!)

  • What flowers/vegetables do you plan on planting this spring?

  • How do you choose a translation of the Bible?

  • On a scale 1 to 10, 10 being extreme… how stressed are you tonight?

Life exploration time: Read out-loud John 4:27-45

~ Why do you suppose the disciples refrained themselves (JN 4:27) from questioning Jesus about His conversation with the woman at the well???

~ What is the significance (symbolic or not) of the woman leaving her water jar in Jn 4:28?

~ How do you feel about the Samaritan woman being an active and effective evangelist 4:28-29 & 4:39…

in light of the fact that she is living a sinful lifestyle?

~ Read Jn 4:34. What is the work that Jesus has in mind?

AND, In what sense is God’s work unfinished/incomplete?

~ Why is it essential we open our eyes & really “see” (4:35)?

~Based on 4:35-42, what all is necessary for evangelism to take place?

~ Have we overlooked anything in this passage that you’d like to discuss?

Personal reflection:

The neglected “ripe harvest” ends up wasted… Am I laboring in and reaping God’s harvest the way Jesus really wants me to?

On my bookshelf:

I recently lent out one of my favorite books on congregational life to a good friend here, and he was returned it last night.  As I was putting the book back just now, it occurred to me, many people in our churches are unaware of the value of Peter Steinke's writings.

I have a "trilogy" on understanding the emotional system from Peter Steinke that I highly recommend you pick up and read.  Each book is around 170 pages or less; quick reads that are very packed...  I'll save my favorite title for last, as I share these gems with you.

The 1st book to consider is, "How your church family works."  If you want to know why anxiety hijacks a group of people, and how to find stability again, you won't find a better resource anywhere.   One very powerful concept that Steinke draws out here is how we need to practice what he calls "self-differentaion."  This is the idea of being present with the group, but remaining an individual.  It's harder than you might think, but Steinke devlops the idea and provides clear guidance on the how to deal with it.

The 2nd book I'll recommend is, "Congregational leadership in anxious times."  You'll like the subtitle: Being calm and courageous no matter what....
Here Steinke unpacks concepts on how a leader can manage their own anxiety to be a non-anxious presence, to be a calming influence.  He does a great job describing the two types of anxiety we deal with, Acute and Chronic anxiety.  The book has three phases, The Leader's presence, The Leader's functioning, and The Leader's challenges.  This book is essential for anyone who would attempt to  navigate the choppy waters of congregational life...

The 3rd and favorite book of the three is, "Healthy Congregations."
Steinke shows how anxiety is like a virus attacking a body; it has to have a host to survive.  If you've heard the term "Triangulation" before, you'll benefit from Steinke's perspective on this topic.  The core of the book unpacks the four viruses that attack the body of the church: 1. Secrets, 2. accusations, 3. lies, and 4. triangulation.  Steinke shows how all four of these are expressions of anxiety.   This book is, no exaggeration, worth its weight in gold...

To say these three books should be required reading by all leaders, and most members, could come off as a cliche....  but I'll say it anyway :-)  Let me finish my recommendation with this:  All three books detail the really difficult challenges we face as a community of believers - followed by delivering  tools/skills that will aid us in our efforts to work through the many difficulties that face every congregation.  These books provide more than just hope for a better future for congregations strangled by conflict and stress... these books inspire their readers to action!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Click here for the printer-friendly version of the 3/15/09 outline

Lifegroup map 3/15/09  “Liquidation”  John 4:1-26


Please choose any One of the following Ice breakers:

(Everyone doesn’t have to answer the same one… pick the one you like!)

·        How much time each week do you spend on the internet?

·        How do you feel about your future tonight?

·        What is your favorite snack food?


Life exploration time:  Read out-loud John 4:1-26

Brief background: The Samaritans were racially mixed; partially gentiles and partially Israelites (See II Kings 17:24-41 for more details.).  They lived in a region that was between Jerusalem and Galilee.  The Jews and Samaritans were bitterly at odds—ethnically and religiously.  The Samaritans only accepted the 1st 5 books of the Bible… The Jews destroyed the Samaritans’ temple in 120 BC.  Since most Jews traveling north & south between Jerusalem and Galilee bypassed the region of Samaria to avoid being ceremonially unclean, Jesus is breaking several social norms of His day in this passage…


~ What is the significance of Jesus being weary and thirsty? 


~ We know from piecing together the social customs of their day (and her history of relationships…) that the woman at the well is an outcast.  She is drawing her water alone, and in the heat of the day.  Recognizing this, along with living an immoral lifestyle (Going through at least 5 men, and she wasn’t married to her current man...) what type of encouragement should we personally take away from this story as we see how Jesus interacts with her?


~ Jesus says in 4:14 that the water He offers will never leave us thirsty…

·        How should we view and handle times when we are in “spiritually dry” times?


~ Reading 4:20-22 the woman raises a question of “where” worship takes place.  The only use of the word “salvation” in John’s Gospel is here in 4:22… but notice that Jesus says not only is worship on the Samaritan mountain not key, Jerusalem also is not central/indispensable… 

·        In what ways is Jesus liberating worship from structures or locations in Jn 4:21?


~ Jesus declares the nature or essence of God is Spirit in 4:24. 

·        How does this impact our understanding of worship, according to Jesus?


~ Jn 4:25 indicates that the Samaritan woman was expecting what type of Messiah? 

(Hint: she says when the Messiah comes, “he will explain/declare/tell us all things”)


~ Overall, Jesus masterfully uses dialogue to bridge the many divides between Himself and the Samaritan woman; all the while not condoning her lifestyle OR condemning her…

·        How can we apply Jesus’ example of dialogue in our lives today, to build relationships with people we differ with?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Click here for a printer-friendly outline for 3/8/09

Lifegroup map 3/8/09 “Wanting what Jesus wants” John 3:22-36

Please choose any One of the following Ice breakers:

(Everyone doesn’t have to answer the same one… pick the one you like!)

  • What was it like the 1st time you were away from your family?

  • What is something you are thankful for tonight?

  • Which is your favorite movie about Jesus, and why?

Life exploration time: Read out-loud John 3:22-36

~ See Jn 3:22. What is so significant about the amount of time Jesus spent with His disciples?

~ In what ways are we selling ourselves short today, if/when we only spend the bare-minimal amount of time with other believers?

~ In Jn 3:23 we see that the water was plentiful. How does this help increase an understanding that baptism implies fully submerging an individual?

~ In Jn 3:30 John the Baptist admirably wants to reduce his public role (personal influence/attention) and he wants to turn people towards Jesus… Expanding that notion to modern-day Christianity:

How can we authentically point people to Jesus and avoid attracting people to our particular perspectives/preferences?

(i.e., Introducing people to Jesus and getting out of their way)

~ Jn 3:34 teaches that God gives the Spirit without measure/limit. What exactly does that mean?

~ Read Jn 3:36 in another version other than the NIV here... John indicates that obedience is at least equally essential for our salvation as beliefWhat does obedience consist of in this verse?

Personal reflection time:

How much control of my life am I really giving over to Jesus?