By Cameron Silsbee 

Begin with prayer

Gather together as a Community in a comfortable setting. Take a moment in silence, in the presence of Jesus and each other. Have one person read Matthew 12v46-50 over the group and then pray to ask the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your time together. 

Debrief the teaching on Oct. 22nd

  1. What stood out to you about the teaching?
  2. What’s been instrumental in your life that God has used to grow your love for others?

Read this overview

On the night he was arrested, Jesus said to his disciples, “By this, everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.”

Community is more than simply a church program. Meeting with a group of men and women each week is one way God forms us to love others – and one of the ways those around us know that we are disciples of Jesus.

Talk through the following discussion prompts

Learning to love others– to feel love for them and to have loving actions – isn’t necessarily straightforward. Often, we are challenged to love others, and we are confronted with what writers throughout church history have referred to as “the flesh,” “the shadow side,” or the “false self.” These parts of us are bent or warped out of alignment with Jesus, whether by the things we choose to do or the things done to us.

There are many helpful tools for understanding these parts of us. One tool is called the Enneagram. This tool categorizes broad patterns in behavior, thinking, and motivation into categories that can help synthesize a person’s struggles and strengths. The Enneagram is particularly helpful when considering your struggles to love others. However, like all tools, it has limitations and can be misused in various ways. 

Work through the following discussion prompts before discussing this coming week’s Practice.

  1. Have you heard of the Enneagram before? If not, how does the above explanation sound to you? If so, do you know what number you are?
  2. If you’re familiar with the Enneagram, how has it been helpful for you? If not, what other tools have you found useful in learning to love others?

Talk over this coming week’s Practice:

This week, connect with God by utilizing the Enneagram to reflect on who he has made you to be and where he is working to grow you into a more loving person.

  • If you are new to the Enneagram or need clarification on your number, please read a bit about how the Enneagram works. You can find helpful articles online, such as this article from the Enneagram Institute. Once you have a basic understanding, you can narrow down your number by taking a test online or asking your Community Leader for a basic test adapted for those in a Van City Community. Please understand that no test is 100%. Results give you a good idea about where to start. Reading about those potential numbers can help you find the number that best resonates and explain your experience. You can find an explanation of all nine numbers here. Even if you already know your number, refresh your understanding of it. Consider whether there is anything new that sticks out to you.
  • Once you have the number you think best fits you, or if you already know your number, spend some time reflecting on these questions:
    • What challenges might a person who is my number have in loving people (either with feelings or actions)? Have those been my challenges?
    • What strengths might a person who is my number have in loving people? Are those my strengths?
    • Who or what is God using to grow me in my love for others? (this typically involves a person or situation where we feel somewhat stretched, frustrated, failing, or overwhelmed.)

Be prepared to discuss what stood out in this Practice next week.

Close in prayer

End prayer by having one person read the Nicene Creed over the group.

I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible. I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages.

God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; through him all things were made.

For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered death and was buried, and rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.

He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father [and the Son], who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets.

I believe in one, holy and apostolic Church. I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.