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Experience 4 – Discerning Our Unifying Direction (Part 1)

These prayer and share guides aim to help congregations who God is calling them to BE and what God is calling them to DO.  This guide aims to help small groups (6-9 people) to begin discerning God’s “unifying direction” for their church.

* 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) 

In his book Doing Church as a Team, Wayne Cordeiro writes:

Vision is the ability to see what others may not.  It is the capacity to see potential, what things COULD BE.  It is the ability to see what God sees, and the God-given motivation to bring what you see to pass.  We need faith to see the unseen, and by seeing what God sees for your future, you begin to have vision.  This is how you begin to see, not only with your eyes, but also with your heart.

Vision questions ask us to think outside the box – outside the reality of what is right now, and toward what might become reality. 

A vision is a clear, challenging picture of the future of the ministry as you believe it can be and must be. It is a unifying direction that aims to define our future course as a congregation, helping us to be what God wants us to be and do what God calls us to do. 

Ultimately, then, the unifying direction of the church comes from God.  God speaks to the hearts of His people about His specific directions for their congregation. 

As a group, discuss the following questions as we seek to discern God’s unifying direction for our congregation.   

What compels you to serve God in this church?  What is it that excites you, motivates you, and rallies you to serve God through this congregation?

What do you believe God’s vision for our congregation?

Describe how our congregation might look in ten years if it consistently lived out God’s vision.  What might be the same?  What would be different?  What types of people would gather for worship?  What types of ministries would and programs would we be engaged in? 

* DEEPENING OUR UNDERSTANDING THROUGH GOD’S WORD (30 Minutes)

One of our primary needs as we pursue missional faithfulness is the discovery of a “unifying direction” for this church.  God’s purpose for THE church is universal and timeless.  How that universal purpose of the church is expressed in each congregation will be unique and different because each congregation is unique and each ministry setting is different.

 Let’s begin by exploring the timeless purpose of the church as reveal in scripture. 

Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47) 

Take a few moments and compile a list of key phrases or thoughts from these scriptures that speaks to the timeless mission of the universal church. 

Next, reflecting on our uniqueness as a “body” and the “context” in which we minister, discuss how you sense God is calling our fellowship to flesh out this universal and timeless purpose in our mission field. 

Prepare a statement that reflects the unifying direction you sense God is leading the church.  This is not the same as a Mission, Vision, or Purpose statement – though it might have elements of some of these kinds of documents.  Rather this is about the “missional direction” of our life together as a congregation. 

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

In a minute or two of silence reflection, think about the statement you have prepared. 

Does it excite you?  Is it compelling? 

Does it cause you to dream bigger dreams about the future of the our fellowship?   

If your answer is NO, please ask the group to reconsider

If each member has the sense that what you have prepared might be a reflection of what God might be leading us toward as a unifying direction, then allow each member to pray aloud, asking God to allow this preliminary “unifying direction” to cause us to dream God-sized dreams for our future. 

* COMMITTING TO ACTION

In the week ahead, continue to imagine (in prayer) how our church might look in ten years if it consistently lived out God’s vision.  What might be the same?  What would be different?  What types of people would gather for worship?  What types of ministries would and programs would we be engaged in? 

* RECORD 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.”

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One Response to “Experience 4 – Discerning Our Unifying Direction (Part 1)”

  1. Good stuff Bill. Write on.

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