Tuesday, April 24, 2012

People [Nehemiah 7:4-73]

Sermon Discussion Questions
  • Why are there so many lists in the Bible?  What do these lists tell us about God?  About the people of God?  About us today?
  • As a group, discuss how this passage places centrality on community.  When you think of your life as a Christian, do you think of yourself as connected to others?  What in our culture (including our "church culture") contributes to thinking very individualistically about our lives as Christians?
  • Have you ever felt isolated in church?  Discuss your experiences as a group.  Why did you feel isolated?  What did Ryan mention in helping combat isolation in our churches?
  • Think of all the "wonderfully weird" people God has placed in your life (particularly at church).  Without the need to share specifics, is there one or two of those people you struggle to love?  What steps could you take to move towards those people to share with them in community?
  • "Keep Covenant Weird."  What would it look like for us to truly adopt this as our motto?  In other words, what if we actually lived out this reality?  How would or could it potentially change Covenant Church?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Vigilance [Nehemiah 6:15-7:3]

Sermon Discussion Questions
  • Are there times that you feel like you just want to be off of the "spiritual IRR" list?  That is, do you ever feel as though you just want to be "off duty" when it comes to the spiritual fight of the Christian life?  As a group, share what you experience in those moments when you just want to be "off duty."
  • Why do you suppose that we are most vulnerable after experiencing success (e.g. spiritual success, financial success, relational success, etc.)?  Discuss how the "lure of self-sufficiency" or the "illusion of safety"contribute to this vulnerability.
  • When it comes what vigilance looks like in our life, we were encouraged to pursue a dependency upon one another.  Do you struggle to depend upon others?  Why do you suppose we struggle with this?  Men, do you have men "keeping watch" with you in your life?  Women, do you have women "keeping watch" with you in your life?  If not, why not?  (In other words, do some self-reflection.)
  • Amidst all of our busyness, reflect upon what structures or disciplines you have in place.  If you have none, what things might be helpful in developing a rhythm that points you to the Gospel?  If you do have some, are they beneficial?  Brainstorm as a group what structures are or could be helpful considering your specific life-stage and context.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Hope [Nehemiah 6:1-14]

Sermon Discussion Questions
  • Think of a time that you were mistreated, perhaps even manipulated.  How did that make you feel?  How did you respond and why?  What do we see Nehemiah doing in the face of mistreatment?  [Show in the passage.]
  • Ryan talked about how our tendency in responding to mistreatment is often either sentimentalism on the one end or cynicism on the other.  Why do we struggle with these tendencies?  Which do you lean towards: sentimentalism or cynicism?  Why do you think that might be?  How do you see this coming out in your daily life-at home, at work, around town, or at church?    
  • Hopeful Realism.  How do we see Nehemiah displaying this kind of response?  [Show in passage.]  What two things did Ryan say [the main points of the sermon] characterizes Hopeful Realism?  How and why is this a better response than either sentimentalism or cynicism?
  • How do we see the concept of Hopeful Realism in the Lord's Supper?  Do you think of participating in communion as an act of love by God [grace truly exhibited] or simply as a time to remember Jesus' death and your sin?  As a group, brainstorm ways that we can better prepare for and participate in the Lord's Supper in a way that reflects Hopeful Realism.