The Way ForwardDownload this Week’s Discussion Guide
In today’s message, our pastoral team took time to speak to the direction we are headed and some key elements that have brought us to this place. This is a moment we believe God has been speaking to us about for some time. For years now, God has been speaking to us about “going off the map” and into “uncharted territory”; that the territory ahead would be like an entirely new “spiritual topography.” We had no idea it would look like this.
As we have shared our hearts and sought God for a way forward, one of the challenging things to process is a shift in our staffing. We sent out an email and a physical letter this week describing the elimination of the Worship and Tech Director position Luke Davidson has been in for the last 5+ years.
This has been painful for all involved and it is important to have safe spaces to process our grief and feelings; to ask questions and to embody Paul’s words and “be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:2-3)
God is a good Father, the best ever actually. He takes us through seasons of pruning so that ultimately we will bear more fruit. Jesus painted such a beautiful picture of this in John 15.
SCRIPTURES, QUOTES AND COMMENTS
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
John 15:1-2, 5 | NIV
During this pandemic, our lives have been pruned in many ways. Simple tasks like shopping, going to school, doing our jobs and even being together have become complex. Each of these changes brings with them a sense of loss.
We need to be able to:
- Embrace the struggle (James 1:2-4; 1 Thess. 1:3),
- Pray and praise through the pain (Psalm 34:18; James 4:8)
- Look beyond the moment (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).
Look up some of these verses up in your Discovery Communities and read them over one another. Take a moment to pray over people as emotions or barriers are identified. Listen for the Holy Spirit. What is He saying? Are there any pictures or prophetic words? A song that is rising?
Moving forward as wholehearted adventurers…Jesus has invited us to follow Him, to become His disciples, and to reproduce ourselves by teaching the truths we’ve received to others (2 Tim. 2:2). The pastoral team shared some deep conviction about how they sense they’ve allowed good things to be prioritized over this core commission. As we move toward in a narrower vision to develop a “culture of discipleship”, take time to discuss the following:
Questions for Reflection and Discussion:How would you define discipleship based on your experience?, What has discipleship looked like in your life?, How do we see Jesus discipling?
What are some ways God has taken you through seasons of pruning? How have you responded well? How have you not responded so well? What has the fruit been?
Steve mentioned this as an opportunity for us to grow in “trial-proofing” the church, i.e. that it can withstand future unknown pressures that could arise. Thinking personally, how “trial-proof” do you feel your life and faith is? What has contributed to developing that quality? What do you still need to grow in?
Given the discussion of the shift in direction, how are you feeling? What questions do you have? Encourage everyone with questions to let the staff know by emailing email@example.com and share if you prefer an in-person or online Zoom meeting.