Worship| Week 1

In John 4 Jesus is having a conversation with a Samaritan woman and as they talk, the conversation turns to worship. These few verses are the most explicit teaching that we have from Jesus on what true worship is to be. Jesus tells her that true worshippers will worship in "spirit and in truth." But what does that mean and how do we do that?

Small Group Discussion Questions
Topic:  Worship
Text: John 4:19-24, Psalm 103:1, John 17:17

1.  When you first hear the word “Worship” what do you typically think of?  Why?

2.  Why is it important to consistently worship corporately (or together) with the church?  Can’t we just worship on our own?  

3.  If worship is primarily about what we give rather than what we get, then how does that effect/change the way we prepare ourselves for worship?  What are some things we can do to prepare ourselves for worship?

4.  As discussed in the sermon… the Samaritans tended to worship in spirit, but lacked knowledge of the truth.  The Jews, on the other hand, knew the truth, but lacked any spirit in their worship.  Do you think people today tend to lean one way or the other in their worship?  What about you?  Personally, do you tend to lean more to the spirit of the truth side in worship?  What can you/we do to maintain the proper balance that God is looking for in our worship?

5.  The action step this week is to read Psalm 100 each day (either individually or as a family).  Would anyone want to share about how that’s going?  Any stories of reading it together as a family?  Do you feel like it helps focus your heart each day on worship?

Storytime| Week 4 - Jonah and the big fish

The popular Old Testament story of Jonah and the big fish teaches us a lot about God's heart towards people... including people we might think of as enemies. Jonah wanted to follow God, but he wanted to follow God on his own terms. The minute God wanted Jonah to do something that Jonah disagreed with, Jonah was angry. Jonah wanted God's grace, mercy, and love for himself, but he wanted the people of Nineveh to get what they deserved. How often are we like Jonah? How can we begin to have the same heart for people that God does?

Storytime| Week 3 - Daniel and the Lion's Den

Daniel was a truly virtuous man. He displayed character and integrity as a leader in the civic/political arena while working for pagan rulers. His life can teach us a lot about how to live on mission when our circumstances and surroundings aren't ideal. He also teaches us a lot about how to stand firm in our faith in the midst of a Godless world.

Storytime| Week 1 - Noah

The story of Noah's Ark is arguably the most popular Old Testament children's story. But in reality, it's a stark reminder of God's judgment on mankind because of sin and wickedness. However, the good news of the story is that God provides Salvation for those who are faithful. The same is true today. One day, God will once again bring judgement on the world. Jesus is our Ark, our means of salvation.

This Week's Action Step: 

Read the whole story of Noah

Songs from Today

  • This Is Amazing Grace by Josh Farro, Jeremy Riddle, and Phil Wickham

  • Do It Again by Chris Brown, Mack Brock, Matt Redman, and Steven Furtick

  • So Will I (100 Billion X) by Benjamin Hastings, Joel Houston, and Michael Fatkin

  • O Praise The Name (Anástasis) by Benjamin Hastings, Dean Ussher, and Marty Sampson

  • Cornerstone by William Batchelder Bradbury, Eric Liljero, Reuben Morgan, Edward Mote, and Jonas Myrin

Culture Making| Week 4 - The Nuclear Family

Flourishing family cultures structure space and time. Families that are faithful to the way of Christ are expanding families that open up to the family of God, to the lost, to the least.

This Week's Action Step: 

List the things you do as a family and how much time you spend doing them.                  Ask, "What are the things we're doing doing to us?"

Small Group

Small Group Questions:

  1. What specific things have made creating a flourishing, Christ-following culture in your family difficult?
  2. Regardless your thoughts on whether males are meant to be the spiritual leaders of families, why is it important that both spouses be engaged, intentional, and assertive in creating healthy family cultures?
  3. Discuss this quote: “Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do, but someone you raise.”
  4. I suggested that we’ve tended to think of family discipleship primarily in terms of teaching our children to think the right things as opposed to creating healthy rituals and rhythms for our families.
  5. Along those lines, I said “Telling our children their faith is really important won’t do them any good so long as their athletic, educational, or social accomplishments function as the center of gravity for our family’s life.” Agree or disagree?
  6. How can you structure your family’s space around creativity instead of consumption, around engagement instead of distraction?
  7. “Find the room where your family spends the most time and ruthlessly eliminate things that ask little of you and develop little in you.”
  8. Does your family have a rhythm of work and rest or toil and leisure?
  9. I talked about the idolatry of the family: We tell ourselves that our immediate family is really our only priority; that we don’t really owe anything to anybody else; that we don’t really have any other relational responsibilities. And tragically enough, this obsessive focus on the immediate family has often created toxic cultures in our families, shutting them up in suffocating environments where an unbearable weight is placed on our immediate family.
  10. Are their ways you’ve fallen into the idolatry of the family?
  11. How can you cultivate a family culture that is close but also open?

Songs from Today

  • The Lion And The Lamb by Brenton Brown, Brian Johnson, and Leeland Mooring 

  • Spirit Of The Lord

  • Death Arrested by Adam Kersh, Brandon Coker, Heath Balltzglier, and Paul Taylor

  • Living Hope by Brian Johnson and Phil Wickham

  • Build My Life by Brett Younker, Karl Martin, Kirby Kable, Matt Redman, and Pat Barrett

  • Doxology by David Crowder and Thomas Ken

 

Culture Making| Week 3 - Creating Culture in Your Personal Life

In Gal. 5 the Apostle Paul describes two cultures that are constantly at war within every person. He calls them the flesh and the Spirit. Which culture wins out in our lives depends on the environment we create in our lives. The right environment isn't created simply by knowledge, it is created by spiritual habits. Habits help us feed the culture we want to win out.

This Week's Action Step: 

Begin to change the culture (environment) of your life this week... start a new spiritual habit.

Small Group

Small Group Questions:

  • 1.  If you could use one word to describe the current culture/environment of your life what would it be?  (Busy? Anxious? Crazy? Tired? Fun? Etc…)

    2.  In Galatians 5:19-23 the Apostle Paul describes two very different cultures.  At the end of his list of the fruit of the Spirit he says, “…against such things there is no law.”  What does Paul mean by this?  How might understanding this help us live in a lot more freedom?

    3.  One of the ways that cultures are created in our lives is through the practice of certain rhythms or habits.  Habits can be good, bad, annoying, or just plain funny.  That being said, what are some of your regular habits?  (If you’re married, your spouse can help answer this with you).  

    4.  Do you have any spiritual habits?  If so, what are they?  How have they helped create the right culture/environment in your life?  

    5.  Are there some new/different spiritual habits you would like to implement in you life?  What’s holding you back or preventing you from starting those?  

    6.  The goal is that spiritual habits move from discipline to delight.  They may be uncomfortable at first, but after a while they just become second nature and part of the overall rhythm of your life.  Can you give an example of a discipline that has become a delight for you?  

Songs from Today

One Thing Remains by Christa Black, Brian Johnson, and Jeremy Riddle

Spirit Move by Amanda Cook and Kalley Heiligenthal

Spirit Of The Lord

Yes And Amen by Anthony Brown, Chris McClarney, and Nate Moore

Death Arrested by Adam Kersh, Brandon Coker, Heath Balltzglier, and Paul Taylor

 

Culture Making| Week 2 - How to Change the World

In order to create healthy cultures out in the world, in our jobs, neighborhoods, schools, and business, we have to think and live local, and think and live slow. When we do, we create things that will last into the infinite future of God's new world.

This Week's Action Step: 

 Be the culture you want to create. Look for tangible ways to live out these values this week. 

Small Group

Small Group Questions:

  • Having read Isaiah 60 and its vision of heaven, what do you make of the fact that heaven is described in such earthly terms?
  • If God’s mission is the renovation of the earth and not the destruction of the earth, how might that affect the way you think about your responsibilities and priorities during your time on earth?
  • Discuss this quote:
    • “The point of the resurrection is that the present bodily life is not valueless just because it will die. God will raise it to new life. What you do with your body in the present matters because God has a great future in store for it…You’re not oiling the wheels of a machine that’s about to roll over a cliff. You’re not restoring a great painting that’s about to be thrown in a fire. You’re not planting roses that are about to be dug up…No, what you do in the present—by painting, preaching, singing, sewing, praying, teaching, building hospitals, digging wells, campaigning for justice, writing poems, caring for the needy, loving your neighbor as yourself—will last into God’s future.”
  • I said you can’t change the world, but you can change your world, and in order to do that you need to think/live local and think/live slow.
  • Living local can be hard because we get caught daydreaming about living other lives in other places, thinking some other place would make us significant, some other job would make us happy, some other spouse would make us whole. And so the challenge was to be where your feet are.
  • Do you struggle to be where your feet are, and if so, what can you do to help you be more present in your actual life?
  • I also said that the key to creating healthy cultures in our world is living slow instead of fast.
  • Destruction happens fast, but creation happens slow. Agree or disagree?
  • What is a cultural space in our community where you/we think God might be asking you to create something healthier? What are some specific ways you/we can do that?
  • Your job, your company, little league, neighborhood, etc.

Songs from Today

Glory To Glory by Lauren Evans, Rick Seibold, and William Matthews

It Is Well by Horatio Gates Spafford, Kristene DiMarco, and Philip Paul Bliss

Living Hope by Brian Johnson and Phil Wickham

Great Are You Lord by Steve Cook and Vikki Cook

So Will I (100 Billion X) by Benjamin Hastings, Joel Houston, and Michael Fatkin

 

Culture Making| Week 1

Throughout history Christians have taken many different postures toward the culture around them. In this series we'll examine the various postures that Christians have taken to the cultures in which they live and discuss how ultimately we should be people who create/make culture... specifically being a people who embody the kingdom of God (a new culture) to the world around us.

This Week's Action Step: 

Be the culture you want to create. Look for tangible ways to live out these values this week.

Small Group

Small Group Questions:

John 15:18-19, John 17:15-18, Acts 17:16-34

1.  Read John 15:18-19.  What does Jesus mean when he says, “… the world hates you?”  Can you think of examples where Christians are hated by the world?  Have you ever felt hated by the world?

2.  Read John 17:15-18.  Since Jesus has clearly “sent us into the world,” how are we to rightly be IN the world but not OF it?  What does that mean?

3.  Of the typical postures towards culture that were discussed in the sermon (Condemning, Critiquing, Copying, and Consuming), which one(s) do you tend to take most naturally?  Can you give examples of when you have taken one (or several) of these postures towards culture?  

4.  What are some ways we (the church) can move beyond these typical postures and actually begin to create culture?

5.  Go through our church’s 7 values (Prayerful, Hospitable, Relational, Generous, Authentic, Excellent, Simple).  Which one(s) of these come more naturally to you?  In other words which ones are easier for you to live out?  Which one(s) are more difficult?

6.  What practical steps can you take to grow in the values that you struggle with the most?  

Songs from Today

Your Love Awakens Me by Chris Quilala and Phil Wickham

Tremble by Andres Figueroa, Hank Bentley, Mariah McManus, and Mia Fieldes

Living Hope by Brian Johnson and Phil Wickham

What A Beautiful Name by Ben Fielding and Brooke Ligertwood

Jesus We Love You by Hannah McClure, Kalley Heiligenthal, and 

Dear Church| Week 7 - Philadelphia

Jesus' letter to the church in Philadelphia contained no criticism, just encouragement. This church was faithfully following Jesus and holding onto the word of God. As a result, the church in Philadelphia lasted longer than all of the other seven churches. This is certainly a church we should look to learn from and imitate.

This Week's Action Step: 

For the church in Philadelphia to receive this letter from Jesus had to be a great encouragement. Be like Jesus this week and encourage someone.

Small Group

 

Small Group Questions:

Revelation 3:7-13

1.  In Rev. 3:7 Jesus refers to having a key that can open and shut (presumably a door of some kind).  Then in verse 8 he also mentions “an open door that no one is able to shut.”  What does this “door” refer to?  What does Jesus mean when he says, “no one is able to shut it?”

2.  One of the things that Jesus is most impressed with about the church in Philadelphia is their faith.  Hebrews 11:6 says that without faith it is impossible to please God.  Then Hebrews 12:2  tells us that Jesus is the “author and perfecter of our faith.”  What are some ways that Jesus grows, stretches, or prefects our faith?  How has God specifically grown, stretched, or perfected your faith over the years?

3.  In verse 10 Jesus mentions the church’s “patient endurance.”  One thing we’ve talked a lot about focusing on this year at the Vista is “patient discipleship.”  Why is patience so important when it comes to spiritual growth?  What could be some of the problems with trying to rush the process or hurry it along too quickly?

4.  In verse 11 Jesus mentions a crown.  What does this crown refer to?  How might someone (or even Satan) try and "seize your crown?”

5.  This letter must have been incredibly encouraging for the church in Philadelphia to receive.  We all need encouragement from time to time.  Take some time as you wrap up your group and encourage one another.  You can do this by simply going around and letting those who want to share words of encouragement about how the group has blessed them, or you could have note cards available and have members of the group write short notes of encouragement to everyone in the group.  However you want to do it is fine, just take some time and encourage each other.  

Songs from Today

Glory To Glory by Lauren Evans, Rick Seibold, and William Matthews

No Longer Slaves by Jonathan David Helser and Melissa Helser

Sons And Daughters by Brett Stanfill

Jesus We Love You by Hannah McClure, Kalley Heiligenthal, and Paul McClure