For Bay County
Do the people in your world know you’re FOR them? In our world today, people are often known more for what they are against than what they are for. Unfortunately, this extends even into the church. We want to reach the lost with the incredible good news of Christ, but often all they ever hear us emphasize are the behaviors and attitudes we are against. In this sermon series, we will talk about how God is FOR the people in our world. He is FOR breaking down unnecessary barriers that keep people away from experiencing His love.
Something To Talk About:
As a Christian, someone who has put faith and trust in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ through His death on the cross and subsequent resurrection, our behavior mirrors, reflects, and resembles Christ. Being gracious and merciful to others is behaving like Christ. To do this we must:
- Create common ground: We underestimate the power of shared interests. Especially when we step out of our comfort zone to make a connection with someone we care about. It may be frustrating but that does not matter. What matters is at the price of some time, we could gain a chance to make an investment in eternity. Having to listen to someone telling us we are wrong is not easy. In those times, we need to remind ourselves when we are confronted by someone with different viewpoints that they were created by God and made in the image of God just like each of us was. We need to practice empathy in our heads while listening, really listening to what the other person is saying. Seek any common ground and listen for God’s guidance. Effective bridge builders look for common ground in the midst of differences in outlook and belief. They don’t compromise their own beliefs. Rather, they use the common ground as a starting place to build toward Jesus.
- Create conversations: “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Colossians 4:6 ESV). Communication is an important aspect of life. As a friend, family member, or employer, you will find yourself in a position to have a necessary, and perhaps uncomfortable conversation. When we look at our life and our relationship with Jesus, we realize that it has been a journey. A journey of understanding, belief, experience, and trust. As we join others on their journeys, we know that, like most other relationships, building respect and trust in order to share the gospel takes more than a cup of coffee. These days, it’s more common for someone to follow Christ after many conversations and forming a relationship with a Christian than upon hearing a one-time presentation of the gospel. We need to ask better questions and listen well to the responses we receive. We need to be brave when someone invites us into a deep conversation. We need to be more curious about the people God places in our lives. Deep conversations can be intimidating, but it is worth the risk.
- Create connections: Have you ever had a conversation in which you feel that you’ve really bonded? You move beyond the “Hi, how are you?” You’ve connected. Or, do you ever have one of those conversations in which you just don’t connect? No matter how hard you try, you feel that you just can’t get through to that person. Often we can become fixated and focused on the different people we may encounter either intent on catching up to those who are ahead, only wanting to spend time with those beside us, or constantly looking back and worrying about those behind. Our challenge is to embrace those ahead, beside, and behind us on the path. God intended us to have horizontal connections with all kinds of people. It makes for fuller, richer, and more genuine relationships. The Bible, especially the book of Proverbs, is full of principles on how to connect with people at the deepest level—the heart-to-heart, soul-to-soul level. This is one of life’s most important skills.
- Discuss a company or organization you respect. What are they known for?
- What do you think are common perceptions about the church? Do you think the church is known more for what it’s against or what it’s for?
- What are ways that our small group could show our neighbors and our community that we are FOR them?
- People can have many differences, and, despite those differences, they can find common ground to share good times and bad. Agree or disagree and why?
- Are we looking for common ground or common differences? What are some ways we can devote more time to building relationships or making current ones better?
- How can we build new relationships this year and make current ones stronger?
- What is difficult about starting conversations? Is it difficult to engage in deep conversations with others? Why or why not?
- How do we know we are asking the right questions? How can we intentionally take an interest?
- When you are talking to someone, is your mind thinking about what they can do for you? Are you positioning yourself? Do you have a favorite story you can’t wait to tell? Are you trying to talk before they are finished? James 1:19 says to be quick to listen and slow to speak…is that true of you?
- How do we find common ground with others in a conversation?
- To what extent do you invest the necessary time and energy to make meaningful connections with others? What stands in the way? What choices are you making?
- To what extent do you open up space for others to make meaningful connections with you? What stands in the way? What choices are you making?
Take One Thing Home with You
“…The mystery in a nutshell is just this: Christ is in you, so therefore you can look forward to sharing in God’s glory. It’s that simple…” Colossians 1:27 (Message)
This sermon series is educational and convicting at the same time. The sad reality is that Christians tend to be portrayed and often we are painted in a very negative light. The media picture is that we are against so many things. Shouting out what Christians are against, should that be our strongest message? The answer is no. What we need to do is to change our image to a positive one. Not built on a PR effort but one built on truth. The truth of all the wonderful things that we as Christians are for. The elements that define who we are and how we are shining Christ’s light into the darkness.