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 Isaiah 6v1-8 over the group and then pray to ask the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your time together.
Debrief the teaching
- What, if anything, stood out to you about this week’s teaching?
- How does the idea of having a Van City church doctrine statement sound to you? Do you find it helpful to state beliefs and positions clearly, or are you uncomfortable with the potential exclusivity that may come with it?
- How has God’s holiness and “otherness” shaped and impacted your relationship and experience with him? (If it’s hard to think how it has, why do you think that is?)
Read this overview
You would be hard-pressed to find a person, concept, ideology, or idea that has been more divisive or provocative throughout human history than God. Post-modern, Western pluralistic attitudes (“all paths lead up the mountain to God) sound nice but have done little other than misunderstand, misrepresent, and homogenize belief in God, often at the expense of minority populations.
What we believe about God matters.
For followers of Jesus, this probably isn’t a radical statement. We know God cares about what we believe about him because he’s made himself known to us. He’s revealed himself in specificity because he wants us to believe in him and to know him for who he is. But God is more than a collection of facts. Belief in God is both about information and relationship.
So, what do we do because we believe in God?
Followers of Jesus have answered this question for two thousand years. Because we believe in God, and because belief is both informational and relational, we create and sustain rhythms of connection with God through our minds and our hearts. We don’t just carry intellectual positions about God; our lives are radically different because of our beliefs.
Talk through the following questions
- What comes to mind when you think about “connection with God”?
- How do you differentiate between assumptions and ideals about connecting with God (e.g., amount of time, specific methods, etc.) versus how God is asking you to connect with him?
- Have you ever experienced your relationship with God hindered based on untrue things you believed about him? If so, share about that experience. If not, why do you think that is?
Talk over this coming week’s Practice
For the next two weeks, spend time reflecting and experimenting with your rhythms of connection with God.
A holistic relationship with Jesus—one that saturates and impacts every aspect of our lives—can been conceptualized in many ways. One way we’ve explored and utilized as a church is a Rule of Life. (If the idea of a Rule of Life is new for you, feel free to listen to this overview teaching about it)
Think through your rhythms of connection to God beginning with these two categories:
Abiding (Morning prayer, Scripture reading, worship music, sabbath, fasting, silence and solitude, retreat, etc.)
Mind (Reading Scripture in the morning, spiritual reading and study, church on Sunday, gratitude, a daily limit on device use, etc.)
Consider whether it may be beneficial to include more time or a variety of disciplines in the Abide or Mind category. Or perhaps it might be helpful to swap one discipline you’ve been utilizing for something new (e.g., time spent journaling with time spent in imaginative prayer).
If you’re getting started figuring out how to connect with God, our recommendation for a baseline practice is to commit to a daily time of quiet prayer and Bible reading—even if it’s brief and simple—and to church each Sunday.
If, after experimenting with your rhythms, you find it most beneficial to continue with your previous rhythms, that’s okay! The goal is to find what’s most helpful in connecting with God.
When your Community comes back together in two weeks, spend time debriefing any insights or changes you’ve made to how you connect with God.
Close in prayer
End in 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 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.