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Experience 7– Who God Is Calling & Gifting Us To Serve (Part 2)

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 (25 Minutes)

In our last few sessions, we have been asking two important questions.
• What is the unifying direction of God’s call?
• Who is God calling & gifting us to serve?

As we continue to discover God’s emerging call around these questions, there are four primary things to pray about (or places to look) as we seek to discern God’s call.

1) God’s call on our church has its roots in our uniqueness.
-Where are we – in a geographic, social, and cultural context?
-When are we – in the flow of history and change of our community?
-Who are we – in continuity with our past and in consideration of our present?

2) A congregation may discern God’s call in what they affirm in the life and ministry of the congregation.

3) God’s call to a congregation is sometimes found in the midst of “the new thing” that is emerging in the life and ministry of the congregation.

4) God’s call to a congregation often resides in the burdens within the hearts of its members – individually or collectively.

Of these four areas, most of our discussions have revolved around God’s call through our uniqueness and affirmations of what we are already experiencing in terms of the life and ministry of our congregation. We’ve explored what we are already doing and what we feel gifted to do at this current time. Let’s expand our discussions to give consideration to all the ways God is speaking to us. In the next few minutes, discuss the following “discernment questions.”

1. What might the uniqueness that is our church have to say about God’s call to the congregation in the time and place it serves today?
2. What do you affirm about the life and ministry of “your” church that might be a piece of God’s call and vision?
3. What “new thing” is emerging in the life and ministry of the church that might be evidence of God’s call to our church?
4. What burdens do you have for your community that might also be God’s burdens? How might these burdens help the congregation see the work that God has chosen for it?

DEEPENING OUR UNDERSTANDING THROUGH GOD’S WORD (15 Minutes)

It is important to remember that the call of God is always bigger than our current state of giftedness. God is always calling us in some way to step beyond where we are right now – in terms of our giftedness, resources, abilities, and talents. God does this in order that we might more fully trust him to continually gift and resource us to do what he wants us to do.
In the sixth chapter of John, Jesus was confronted with a huge challenge. A large crowd had been following Jesus, listening to his teaching and preaching. The text says there were five thousand men. It would be safe to say that there were at least that many women and children also present.

The people were getting hungry and needed to be fed, but the disciples did not think they had the resources necessary to meet such a need. They forgot that the greatest resource was the very presence of Jesus among them.
The text reports that there was a “… boy with five small loaves of barley bread. He also has two small fish” (verse 9). The need was great, but the resources seemed so little.

The text says that Jesus had every sit down. Then he offered thanks for the provisions God had provided. Then he broke the bread and fed the masses, with twelve baskets left over.

This passage speaks directly and clearly us about what God asks and hope for our church. Discuss the following questions as they relate to the process of discerning God’s call on our church.

-What did the little boy do that was so amazing?
-What does his example teach us as we discern and live into God’s call?
-What would have happened if the boy had not offered the loaves and fish?
-Who is responsible for performing miracles?

As you reflect on this story, imagine what God can do and not what WE can do. WE are always limited without God. As we begin to imagine what God can do, be willing to offer him whatever we have, trusting him for the results.
The bottom line for a missional congregation is never “Can we do it?” (i.e. do we have the talent, gifts, resources, money, etc.) Rather the question is “If God calls, will we entrust ourselves into his care and allow him to continue gifting us to serve the people he wants us to serve?”

Put another way: As God calls us to do a BIG thing (something so big that it would take God to make it a reality), will we be open to learning, changing, growing, stepping outside our comfort zones – all with the awareness that through this growth God is continually gifting us to do what he’s calling us to do?

CONNECTING THROUGH PERSONAL APPLICATION (20 Minutes)

Based on your answers to the “discernment question” answered earlier in this session, review the chart below (include the information you added to this chart last session).

Do you sense any other people groups that God might be calling and gifting us to serve? If so, add this information to the chart below.

Also discuss the key question to be answered.

Who is the community that God is calling us to serve?

Is it our neighborhood, community, the west end, or the metropolitan area?

PRAYING OUT LOUD FOR EACH OTHER AND FOR THE CONGREGATION (10 Minutes)

Earlier this rhetorical question was asked:

As God calls us to do a BIG thing (something so big that it would take God to make it a reality), will we be open to learning, changing, growing, stepping outside our comfort zones – all with the awareness that through this growth God is continually gifting us to do what he’s calling us to do?
Each member should pray asking God to inspire them, those in their prayer cluster, and the entire church to answer that question with an unequivocal YES!

COMMITTING TO ACTION

Included with this session are some demographic summaries of the types of people in our community. These are offered to help give you a better picture of the mission field near our church. Throughout the week, reflect on this information and be ready to discuss how this information affirms, clarifies, or possibly corrects your understanding of God’s leadership.

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.”

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