By Cameron Silsbee 

Begin with prayer

Gather together as a Community in a comfortable setting. Take a moment to sit in silence in the presence of Jesus and each other. Have one person read Matthew 11v6 over the group and then pray to ask the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your time together. 

Debrief the teaching

  1. What stood out to you about Sunday’s teaching?
  2. How does the idea of the church as a family sit with you?
  3. How have you been impacted by someone’s “ministry of presence” in your life?

Read this overview

Early on in the life of Van City Church, a grizzled veteran of church planting sat around a dinner table with some of the leaders of Van City. This older, more experienced person spoke to the group about many things, but one thing he shared uniquely lingered. This church planter sat at the table, looking at each person in the group, and said, “The best thing about the church is the people. And the worst thing about the church is the people.” 

These words, spoken to a group of leaders beginning out on the adventure of planting a church, gave permission to lay aside idealism and cynicism – idealism about how wonderful we are as people and cynicism about how awful we are. We can acknowledge both how amazing people and Community can be – healing, helpful, grounding, encouraging, and a source of accountability. And we can acknowledge how difficult Community can be – painful, disappointing, frustrating, and boring.

Our shared goal is, whether things are going great with Community or are difficult, that we would partner with and participate in how Jesus is shaping us. Good times with Community are valuable. And difficult times can be as well. For the next two weeks (including tonight), as individuals and a Community, you’ll be reflecting on your current feelings about Community and what you hope to see happen in the coming year together.

Talk through the following discussion questions:

As you talk through these questions, we can demonstrate respect and care for each other by listening to one another well. It’s usually best to avoid correcting, “teaching,” or attempting to fix a person’s problems unless they give the invitation for the group to respond in any of those ways.

  1. What is different about your faith, attitude, actions, or thoughts because of the time you’ve spent in Community? If you can’t think of anything, why do you think that is?
  2. If you have a problem with Community (interpersonal, functional, theological, etc.), how do you typically respond?
  3. Spend a moment reflecting on your family life as you grew up. How did your family handle interpersonal conflict? (e.g., passive–aggressiveness, avoidance, conversations and apologies, big fights, loud arguments, etc.)

Talk over this coming week’s Practice:

This week, spend some time prayerfully reflecting on the following questions about Community. As you work through these questions, write down any answers, thoughts, or goals that come to mind.

  • Do you have any hurts, frustrations, or disappointments from Community that you are carrying into the next year together?
    • If so, is there anything you can or should do to address it either directly or indirectly? (e.g. working toward acceptance, a conversation with someone, prayer, help/wisdom from someone trusted, etc.)
  • What about your Community do you hope will continue into the next year together? What do you hope will not continue?
    • What do these hopes say about your expectations of Community?
  • What sorts of things could you do to show self-sacrificial love to those in your Community?
  • If, overnight, your love for God and your experience of his love was radically increased, how might that impact or change the way you act or think about your Community?

Be prepared to share some or all of these answers with your Community next week as you collaborate on how to be in Community together in the coming year.

Close in prayer

End in prayer be 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.