(This article can also we found on our website
at http://www.bethelkingston.com under the tab called "Blog")
This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.
We certainly live in a day when many are taking shots at the church. “It’s full of hypocrites!”… “They don’t care for the poor!”… “It is irrelevant.” Some is substantiated and some of it is just unfounded, exaggerated and caters to people bent on being a critical. I think some even use the “critic” card to justify their own tepid spirituality. As I read the other day, it is easier to be critical and unsupportive than positive and affirming.
Whatever the case, some of the criticism is justified and needs to be listened to and learned from. There may be a grain of truth or a whole saltshaker’s worth of truth in the verbal firing range.
Read the following testimony and if you are in a group talk about where you stand regarding the Church (think more broadly than just Bethel):
“In 2002 I was at the height of my personal “church is irrelevant” rebellion phase. My wife and I had just gone to Little Rock, Arkansas, for her high school reunion, and visited a church there that used to be her church, years ago, as a kid. Now, in the new millennium, this place had put the “glitz” in “glitzy”. You could get everything there. Gourmet coffee. CDs. An array of books. There was a climbing wall for the teens. Beepers for the parents of young children. Lots of Cadillacs and Benzes in the parking lot, and a sermon on reaching your potential after a fabulous performance by an all-white praise band in matching polos. Their smiles were blinding. It was all so fabulous that I almost got sick to my stomach. And nobody said hello.” (Why We’re Not Emergent, DeYoung and Kluck, page 59)
On Sunday we talked about how we want the Church (specifically the Sunday a.m. gatherings) to be a place where people encounter God. This was a follow-up to the September 12th message (you can get that Touching Base online). We talked about how it is so easy to carry on with business as usual, but leave Jesus behind.
Read Luke 2:41-58.
How can this happen in the Church?
What is the fallout?
We talked about people on the platform and people in the pew. We all have a responsibility to nurture an environment where God is at work. Paul says we are a holy temple, a dwelling place for the Spirit of God (last week’s message - Eph 2:21,22).
Discuss the following questions that we considered on Sunday morning. After your discussion take time to pray for Bethel. Also pray for churches in the community that may need a fresh work of God. After all it is His Body, His Church and it is His manifest presence we so desperately need.
- How do you (people in the pew) go about preparing for Sunday morning? Do you think you do enough, what more could you do so as to come with a heart ready for corporate worship?
- Sometimes the person on the platform needs to guard from performing. However, people in the pew can be tempted to perform as well. How can that be possible?
- What should I do on a Sunday when the song being song does not exactly express where I am at? For example the song may say “I surrender all”, but I realize that how I am living is more better expressed, “I surrender some.” Is it hypocritical to sing it?
- Can you effectively assess if a service was “successful” or not? Why?
- What must Bethel guard against? What might be some of our slippery slopes, tendencies to get off the rails?
When exiting a service sometimes all people comment on is the length of the sermon, the volume of the music or the noise of the baby three pews down from where they were sitting. Think about some comments and questions people should be asking that might reflect a healthier heart (don’t get me wrong… sometimes preachers preach too long, songs are too loud and babies need to be in the nursery).
Here is a sample:
- How did I contribute today to Bethel being a healthy Church?
- What did God speak to me about in the service?
- How can I follow up on what I was challenged with?
- Who can I share this with?
- Who needs to be encouraged?
If interested in joining or starting a small group contact firstname.lastname@example.org