Twitter
YouTube
RSS
Facebook
ClickBank1
ClickBank1

Experience 2 – Extravagant Love

Prayer guides designed for small groups (6-9 people) seeking WHO God might be calling them to BECOME and what God is calling them to DO.  Used by my church as we explore what it means to be a missionally faithful church.  If you’d like information as to how these guides fit into our spiritual journey, please feel free to contact me at billnieporte@pastor.com

* GATHERING  (5 Minutes)

– Gathered in a circle, holding hands, allow each member the opportunity to offer a sentence prayer to God, asking for guidance in discerning his voice. 

* BUILDING UNDERSTANDING THROUGH CONVERSATION (20 Minutes) 

“A Time for Extravagance” was the focus of the annual Baptist General Association of Virginia (BGAV) meeting in November, 2009. 

Extravagance is defined as “excessive outlay; unrestrained excess; exceeding the limits of reason; going beyond what is deserved, justified, or expected; lavish.”  

In their description of meeting theme, our BGAV partners write:

Today doesn’t seem like a good time for extravagance, does it? The economy is struggling, there are wars, and children are dying of hunger. Yet in the midst of all the world’s troubles, all our troubles, God continually demonstrates His extravagant love for us ? God’s love is excessive, it is unrestrained, and it exceeds the limits of reason. We all know that God’s love and grace are undeserved – there is no way to justify the love He lavishes upon us.

So often in many churches, gathering for worship, discipleship, and ministry become a burden rather than blessing.  This happens, most often, as we attempt to justify God’s love.  Put another way, worship becomes an obligation rather than celebration; discipleship becomes a duty rather than a joy; and ministry become a job rather than an overflow God’s love that is excessively and continually poured out into our lives.

How have you experienced the extravagant love of God at your church?

How might your congregations worship gatherings become more celebratory and less of an obligation?

In what ways do you sense God transforming your discipleship from obligation to joy?

What is the difference between ministry as a job and ministry as an overflow of God’s love?

* DEEPENING OUR UNDERSTANDING THROUGH GOD’S WORD (20 Minutes)

In 1 John 4:10-12, it says, This is real love — not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.”

When it comes to love in the church, God is the source.   Our primary aim as Christians and as a church is not to love God, but to receive and share God’s love.  As we are connected in a love relationship with God, that will enliven our loving connections to one another and to our world. 

Let’s explore how God’s love is being express to those inside the church.

If someone in your church has a need, how do you find out about it?

In what ways to you show then love and concern?

How is our congregation growing closer together? 

How are we effectively building healthy relationships inside the church? 

Now let’s explore how God’s love is expressed to those outside the church.  

How does our community know that we exist and care for them?

How might we discover the hurts and pains of our community?

What needs have you already seen to which you sense God is calling us to address through “loving acts of kindness?” 

* CONNECTING THROUGH PERSONAL APPLICATION  (15 Minutes)

The BGAV statement referenced earlier says, “God continually demonstrates His extravagant love for us.  God’s love is excessive, it is unrestrained, and it exceeds the limits of reason.”

An ancient church document declares, “The chief aim of man (or woman) is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”

In what ways are these two statements connected? 

What does it mean to enjoy God?

Identify some practical ways to enjoy and glorify God?

 How have you enjoyed God during the past week?  How so?

Consider this:  If you are living in the enjoyment of God’s extravagant, excessive, unrestrained love – that is going to prompt you to find ways to share that love with others.  Keep a daily journal throughout this week of the people you loved.  What type of impact did sharing God’s love have on you?  Did sharing love make an impact on the person you loved? 

* PRAYING OUT LOUD FOR EACH OTHER AND FOR THE CONGREGATION (15 Minutes)

In a minute or two of silence reflection, meditate on the truth of God’s passionate love for you.   Know that God’s love and grace is given you because it is the nature of God to love.  We do not deserve God’s love.  We cannot earn God’s grace.  We cannot repay God’s loving kindness.  What we can do is revel in that love and allow it to flow throw us. 

Pray aloud for each member in your cluster as they experience and share God’s love and grace. 

* COMMITTING TO ACTION

I once heard a preacher say, “I’d rather burn out than rust out.”  To that I replied, “Either way, you’re out!”

This week try something different.  STOP TRYING.  Instead, allow God to love you.  Be open to seeing, hearing, and feeling your Heavenly Father’s love. 

See it in the beauty of the world.

Hear it in the laughter of a child.

Feel it in the embrace of our spouse, child, or friend. 

Let God love you! 

Then release yourself into the safety of that love and find the courage and passion to let God love others through you.  

* RECORDING WHAT WE ARE HEARING FROM GOD AND EACH OTHER

Each cluster group is asked to appoint a “scribe” who will prepare a “group report” of what the group believed it heard (discerned) from God.  These reports should be submitted to the pastor immediately after your session and will be used by the “initiating leadership team” for consideration in the preparing the congregation’s “Future Story.”

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Reply