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

  1. What stuck out to you about the teaching?
  2. Why do you keep showing up to your Community each week?

Read this overview

Community is a gift for followers of Jesus. When the pain, disappointment, and disillusionment inevitably come, it can seem like Jesus made a mistake – Community does not feel like a gift. But could it be that part of the gift of Community is how good works through the difficult things to redeem and shape us?

Do this Practice right now.

After completing the Practice homework from the previous week, spend time working through the following guide together tonight. One person will write down what you share in each of these sections. Somebody will share with the whole group for this week’s Practice. 

There’s no need to rush these questions. If you can’t work through them all tonight, you’ll have the space to revisit them next week.

After asking each question, give a moment for people to think about their response. 

  • Think about the various aspects of your Community (Discipleship, Family, Mission, the Practices, rhythms, meals, communication, etc.). What does your Community already do that you hope to continue together into the next year?
  • Finish this sentence: “If my Community could do one thing differently, it would be ____________.”
  • Finish this sentence: “I hope I can show love to my Community this year by ____________.”
  • Think about something you appreciate about a person in your Community. It could be their actions, attitude, a specific thing they do, etc. After thinking about it, go around the group and share what came to mind.
  • The commitment to show up and participate in Community and at the Sunday Gathering is an important aspect of a Van City Community and part of each person’s spiritual formation. Go around the group and allow each person to share their feelings regarding showing up and participating. (e.g., “I feel like I’m in a good season,” or “It seems like our family has been sick a lot, and it’s discouraging,” or “I’m feeling conflicted about showing. Sometimes I want to, and sometimes I don’t.”)
  • Is each of the roles of a Van City Community filled right now? The roles are Community leader, Prayer lead, Mission lead, and Communication lead.
    • If not, could it be helpful to fill those roles? Is anyone interested and willing to fill a role?
    • For the people filling those roles, have each one share how they feel about being in the role with the group.
  • End this exercise by praying over the group for the coming year. Please share anything you feel could be from the Spirit while praying together.

Talk over this coming week’s Practice:

This week, set aside time to reflect and pray about your conversation with your Community. Have the person who took notes during tonight’s conversation send out those notes to the whole group. The conversation that just took place can spark ongoing discussion about Community in the weeks and months ahead. 

As you reflect and pray over the conversation, notice any other ideas, thoughts, or responses you have to the conversation. Jot them down if it will help you to remember them. 

Set aside time as a Community next week to follow up with the group about any additional thoughts or ideas that came to mind. This can also be an ongoing discussion via your Community text thread/Slack channel/email thread. As a group, consider any changes or things to implement for the group out of this Practice.

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.