Feb 1 discussion question

I think I’m going to post, a little later, about what an amazing service today was.    The discussion questions follow.

If you click this link it’ll take you to the portion of the Fellowship Church website dedicated to video feeds.  Once you get here, click the button on the top of the screen for services on demand, then click the “February 1” button. 

It’ll be so worth it.  The music and sermon were exceptional today.  And I think that Marty, Al, Steve, and Billy consistently do an outstanding job anyway, so I don’t bandy the term “exceptional” lightly.

1.  Marty stated that there are several reactions Christians have historically had to culture.  The truth is that most of us probably respond to different aspects of our own culture in all these ways.

What are some aspects of culture that you condemn?  What sorts of good has come from this condemnation?  What sorts of bad has resulted from this condemnation?

2.  What aspects of culture do you critique?  Do you commit what Marty called “The Academic Fallacy”… Do you sometimes act as if analyzing a thing means that you understand everything about a thing?

3.  What aspects of culture do you copy?  Is there anything that you simply put a Christian veneer on top of in order to fool yourself or others into thinking your doing something holy?

4.  What aspects of culture do you simply consume? 

5.  How can you move from condemnation, critiquing, copying, and consumption into redemption?  What does it look like to redeem culture?

6.  We can treat more than just culture this way.  In fact, we can treat people this way to.  We might be most tempted to do this with people who are not Christians.  Do you tend to condemn people?  Do you tend to critique people?  Do you simply copy them?  Consuming a person might be simply using them for whatever they can do for you with out considering there need for Christ.  Do you consume them?  How can you move from treating people this way to redeeming them?

7.  What does the word “redemption” mean to you?  How have you heard the word used in churches?  In what sense does God do the redeeming?  In what sense does He want us to do the redeeming?

8.  What do you think of the idea that Adam and Eve were meant to be stewards of the Earth?  What would the Earth look like today if we followed this expectation?  What do you think God thinks of your daily actions toward the environment?  (For example, how does God feel about how much you consume, recycle, etc.)

9.  Why do you suppose God wants to redeem the Earth through us?

10.  Have you followed Marty’s challenge to assess your consumption?  What conclusions do you come to when you do this?  What should you change?  How can you make these changes; what can the group do to support you in this.


Discussion Questions

As I stated last week, I’m getting back in the habit of posting the small group discussion questions here at the blog.    I was moved by last Sunday’s sermon.  Click here for a video replay of the whole service from last Sunday, or for an audio file of the sermon.  Or click here for Marty’s blog.  It’s a good read.  This week, he blogged on a topic he adresses in the sermon.   That topic is the practice of being a genocrit.  It’s an ugly word that Marty made up, but there’s a real truth behind the ugliness of this word.

At any rate, here’s the questions:

1.   As you may know, the current sermon series is called “30 Days to Live.” It’s based on the premise that if we found out that we only have 30 days to live, we might begin to live very differently.  In week 1 of this series, Marty discussed the idea of living in the moment.  In week 2 of this series, he discussed the idea that we might experience God’s peace.  At the beginning of the sermon, Marty mentioned the idea that today’s topic is not as easy or “fun” as these first two topics.  The question, though, is this:

Can we fully live in the moment if we aren’t looking at the topic of giving correctly?  Can we fully experience God’s peace if we aren’t looking at the topic of giving correctly?

2.  On a scale of 1 to 10, how do you feel that you’re doing in the area of giving?  There are many aspects to giving that are worth considering: giving financially, giving of our time, treasure, talents, affection; giving to the church, giving to other nonprofit organizations, giving to friends and family in need.  What beliefs were you raised with, about giving?   Do you still hold onto these beliefs?

3.  Consider the principle “When you see things as God sees them, you will act in the ways that God acts.”   Can you think of anytimes in your life when you didn’t act in a Godly way because you weren’t looking at things in a Godly way?  Is there anybody in your life right now who fits this description?  Is there any aspects of your own life right now, that you’re challenged to act in a Godly manner?  Is it possible that this challenge results from a failure to see things in a Godly manner?

4.  As individuals, in the world, and even in the church, we sometimes act like we believe that the more money someone has, the more valuable they are.  Why is this belief so widespread?  What can we do as individuals and as a group to combat this belief?

5.  Had you noticed the problem that Marty mentioned: the idea that sometimes the church teaches the wrong thing about money?  What examples have you seen that we often look at money is a value issue, not an ownership issue?  How would your spending habbits change if you really internalized the truth that God owns all of “our” stuff?

6.  What do you think of the idea that confession can be more than just admitting our faults?  What do you think of the idea that confession can be a promise to God of the ways we will act?

7.  Consider the confession “I will guard against materialism”  How are you doing in this area?  What specific steps can you take– as individuals or as a group– to get better in this area?

8.  Consider the confession “I will be genorous”  How are you doing in this area?  What specific steps can you take– as individuals or as a group– to get better in this area?

9.  Consider the confession “I will focus on what matters”  How are you doing in this area?  What specific steps can you take– as individuals or as a group– to get better in this area?

Some things to ponder

I’m going to get back in the habbit of posting the weekly discussion questions I send out to small groups.

Fellowship Church is an awesome place.  If you can’t join us in person, there’s still lots of ways that you can join us in what we’re doing.  Reading these questions is an itty, little bitty tiny part of that.   Commenting on these questions will bring you into a little more of what we’ve got going on. 

  But you’ll get a lot more out of these questions if you click here (Click on the latest sermon in the box on the left) to listen to the sermon or click here  (click the on demand button at the bottom of the screen.)  to watch it.  Or even click here, a smallish blog post from Pastor Marty that deals with some of the same topics.

At any rate, here are the questions I sent out to our small group leaders:

#1) Marty began his sermon by comparing a couple different translations of proverbs 29:18.  Several more translations follow.  The underlined words identify the various ways of translating the same Hebrew term.  Have one or more people read the following translations:

Proverbs 29:18 (New International Version)

 18 Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint;
       but blessed is he who keeps the law.


(New American Standard Bible)

    18Where there is (A)no vision, the people (B)are unrestrained,
         But (C)happy is he who keeps the law.

(The Message)


 18 If people can’t see what God is doing,
   they stumble all over themselves;
But when they attend to what he reveals,
   they are most blessed.

(Amplified Bible)

18Where there is no vision [no redemptive revelation of God], the people perish; but he who keeps the law [of God, which includes that of man]–blessed (happy, fortunate, and enviable) is he.(A)

(New Living Translation)

 18 When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild.
      But whoever obeys the law is joyful.


(English Standard Version)

18Where(A) there is no prophetic vision the people(B) cast off restraint,[a]
   but blessed is he who(C) keeps the law.

(Contemporary English Version)

18Without guidance from God

   law and order disappear,

   but God blesses everyone

   who obeys his Law.


(New Century Version)


 18 Where there is no word from God, people are uncontrolled,
       but those who obey what they have been taught are happy.


(Young’s Literal Translation)

 18Without a Vision is a people made naked, And whoso is keeping the law, O his happiness!

New International Reader’s Version)

 18 Where there is no message from God, the people don’t control themselves.
      But blessed are those who obey the law.


(Today’s New International Version)

18 Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint;
       but blessed are those who heed wisdom’s instruction.



If you have other bible translations with you, you might wish to read these as well.  (However, I left several translations out because they seemed quite similiar to the ones already here; you might not find much different.)

If you have other bible translations with you, you might wish to read these as well.  (However, I left several translations out because they seemed quite similiar to the ones already here; you might not find much different.)
Arrgh!  There’s something wierd going on with my font colors.  If you high light the stuff below, it will show up.  For some reason, I can’t change it from black so you can’t see it set apart from the background.  I’ll try more later!


In what ways do each of these translations help full out the understandings of the other translations?  The most surprising translation for many of us is the Young’s Literal translation.  In what ways are we made naked when we don’t do what God wants?  What is the biblical significance of knowing that we’re naked?  Overall, do you have a favorite translation of the bible?  Why is this one your favorite? 
2) Marty spoke of the peace that occurs when we are following God’s vision for our lives.  Have you ever felt this peace?  Have you seen others who did?  What was it like?
Read Ephesians Chapter 2, verses 11-18.  You might want to compare different translations, especially around the word they use to describe the two different groups that Jesus united.
3)  What are some of the walls that Jesus has torn down between you and others?  What are some of the walls that Jesus has torn down between you and God?  What are some walls that you know should be done but aren’t?
4) In what ways is God working in you, right now?
5) In what ways is God working around you, right now?
6) In what ways are you part of the process?  In what ways is this process bigger than you?
7)  Marty stated that sacrifice is the path to peace.  What are you sacrificing for peace?  What should you be sacrificing for peace?  What have you seen others sacrifice for peace?
8) Jesus is preparing rooms in God’s mansion for you.  Sometimes, we turn these rooms into a junk closet by putting extra rules, requirements and baggage into these rooms.  Other times people don’t want rooms in the mansion.  They’d rather have an unattached shed.  Do you tend toward the junk closet or the unattached shed, or neither?  Why?
8)  What is the extra junk that others sometimes put into these rooms?  What is some of the extra junk that you put into these rooms?
9) Other times people don’t want rooms in the mansion.  They’d rather have an unattached shed.  Why do people do this? 



Hey God, just in case you forgot…

We’re in the middle of this almost crisis.  Our car is dying.  I think it’s the transmission.  It’s years from being paid off.  But that’s not really what I’m wanting to write about today.

What I noticed is that I was praying about, and I prayed “God, you promised that you’d never leave or forsake me.”

I have my health.  I can provide warm meals for my kids.  We have a roof over our head.  I have an awesome wife. 

One might observe that to judge by outward appearances, I am far from left or forsaken.  But that’s not what I want to blog about, either.

One could further observe that God is with those who have no homes, who have no food, who0 have no spouses who love them.  God has not left or forsaken any of those people.  Looking at outward appearances is a dumb way to figure out if God has left or forsaken us.

But that’s not what I want to blog about today, either.


What I want to blog about is the condition of my heart as I said those things.

As I looked at my heart, what I realized was that I wasn’t trying to remind myself of God’s words.  I think that’s probably a good reason to quote scripture when we pray: sometimes words come to our mind, and by placing them in the prayer, those words are able to take a journey to our hearts.  Sometimes, we use verses from the bible as we pray to remind ourselves of the things that God said.  If this had been my intent, I would have been o.k. with this.

But what I was doing was trying to remind God of His Words.  I was trying to throw the bible at Him and say “Look, God, you said it right here.  Are you going to live up to it?”

It’s as if the Bible is this record of things God bragged about.  And now I’m going to hold him accountable.  It’s as if he’s up in Heaven, wanting to leave and forsake me, but then I remind him that he’s not supposed to do it, and I have this idea that God will say “oh, darn it, I did want to leave and forsake you, but I guess you’re right.  I did say I wouldn’t do that.  So I’m going to fix your car for you miraculously.  You win.”

I hope it’s clear that God doesn’t operate that way.  I hope it’s clear that this is a lousy reason to use scripture in a prayer.

What about you?  Do you quote scripture when you pray?  Are there other good reasons, other than reminding ourselves, to use scripture in prayer?  When you survey the state of your own heart when you quote scripture in prayer, what do you find?

Don’t bother with my drivel. Read this stuff instead.

I don’t have anything to say that compares with any of the following.  Don’t read anything on my blog until you’ve checked out the following:

Trade As One This organization makes available a wide variety of goods made by people living from corners of the world that are threatened by HIV, human slavery, and starvation.  If you live in central massachusetts and want something (and order it before November 20th) email me at jeffcampbell7@hotmail.com I’ll tell you how to get free shipping.

invisible children– Use film, fund raisers, high school students, and an army of idealistic college aged kids to spread the word about the situation in Northern Ugandi: the rebel army abducts children and forces them to fight in the civil war.  This group spoke at the school I teach at.  They showed the film “Go” which was outstanding film making.

Jenn with 2 n’s.  Jenn is somebody I kind-of sort of new before I started blogging.  Her blog has been one of my favorite reads over the last year.  Recently, she’s been diagnosed with breast cancer.   Her reflections on this experience are heart breaking, hilarious, and so inspiring.

Fellowship Holden Recently refurbished web site for the coolest church in the world.  (Jesus loves it when we brag about our church.  Honestly.)  Among other things, you can hear messages from Marty and watch the services live on Sundays.

Jeff Goin’s blog.  He’s the editor (in chief?) of Wrecked for the Ordinary.  This story in particular was just mind-boggling to me.


At Fellowship church, each small group will create its own expression of comitment and devotion to themselves, each other, the church (and most importantly) God.   The categories that they will explore are the values that we place at the heart of our small groups: Authenticity, Transformation, Outward Reaching, and Multiplication.

To this end, this document expresses parameters within which we expect the groups to operate.  While we clearly don’t want a cookie cutter approach, we also want to have some level of uniformity.  If people wanted to get together every week and do nothing but read scripture, that would be an awesome thing to do.  However, it wouldn’t be a small group.  On the other hand, if a group hung out at a bar weekly to play poker, this wouldn’t be a small group either.  (Again, it’s not that I have anything against drinking or poker in moderation.)

With no further ado, here is the framework for Fellowship Church’s flexible covenants.



 Definition:We are engaged in transparent, supportive, and loving relationships with other members of the group and the church.  Our interactions during group meetings will be confidential.

Question to be answered on the covenant: What should we commit to in order to grow these relationships?

Specific areas that the covenant might express this value:

A) Regular attendance  (examples: we commit to X% attendance; we commit to doing Y whenever we don’t attend)

B) Respectful actions (example: we will give others our full attention during the study time; we will refrain from drinking or watching ‘R’ rated movies as a group because these might be a stumbling block to others…)

C) Accountabality  (example: we invite others into our lives and will intervene in others lives in such-and-such a manner if we see…)



 Definition: We are commited to seeking out Christ and conforming ourselves to His image. 

Question: What should we commit to in order to maximize our growth in Christ?

A) Regular prayer for each other.  (examples: we will pray for each other X times per week.)

B) Submission to the needs of the group.  (We will prioritize needs of individuals or activites of the group in such-and-such a way.)

C) Learning and Application of Biblical principles. (examples: we will comitt to __ hours per week of prayer, study, homework, etc. on a regular/semiregular/occasional basis.)


Value:Outward Reaching:

Definition:We will work to bring about the Kingdom of God.

Question: What should we do?  How much should we do it?

A) Social justice (Example: Over the course of the small group we will engage in projects to benefit cause X; we will purchase/not purchase product Y;  We will pray for…)

B) Evangelism (Example:  we will aim to invite X# of people to church/small group; we will seek opportunities to witness to those around us with words and actions; we will be particularly focused on the environments of work/neighborhoods/schools…)

C) Formal service projects  (Example: we will commit to ___ # of service projects; we will commit to ___ hours on service projects…)

D) Informal, spontaneous help


Value: Multiplication

Definition: We are committed to growing small groups through out New England.

Question: What steps can we take toward multiplying?

A) Shared leadership to develop gifts (We will each/many of us will lead a discussion, plan a service project, take on individualized tasks for the life of the group.

B) Apprentice others in things we do within the group (Person A will develop the gift/talent/knowledge about ___ to ____ people.)

C) Seek out to be apprenticed by someone else.  (___# of people will develop the gift/talent/knowledge of ______ )

D) Participate in multiplying groups.  (Specific timeline: by Jan. X will have occurred; by April Y will have occurred, etc.)



Discussion Questions

So, I’ve been writing discussion questions for our small groups based on the sermons.  When I think of it, I’ll post them here.

Click this link to be sent to the churches new fangled web site, which among other things, gives you access to video of the sermon.

At any rate, here’s the questions

The Big Picture
We are currently going through a series on Paul.  This week, we focused on Jesus’ confrontation with Paul.  Marty shared the idea that when God confronts us we have a choice: we can run away from God, we can run over God, or we can respond to what God says.


Questions from this week’s sermon

1.  How do you respond to confrontations with other people?  Does this impact the ways you respond to God when he confronts you?


2.  Describe some times that God has confronted you or some one you know.


3.  Why is so tempting to “run over God”; to focus the attention on ourselves and our actions rather than God?


4.  Why is to so tempting to run away from God? 


5.  Which tends to be a bigger temptation for you: Running away from God or running over God?


Read Acts, 9:1-9


6.  God speaks to us in many different ways.  What are some ways that He has spoken to you?  What has he said?  Are there any ways that God has spoken to others, that he doesn’t seem to speak to you through?  Why do you think that is?


7.  Marty challenged us in his sermon to slow down and try to discern what God might be saying to us.  Have you done this?  Why or why not?  Overall, what do you think God is saying to you, right now?


8.  Marty also observed that sometimes God speaks through the people around us.   Is God speaking to you about anyone in the group?  (Obviously, some discernment and tact ought to be used here.  If a small group discussion isn’t the best place to share what God has placed on your heart, please find a different venue to share with the person)


A possible extension

Sometimes God speaks to us in silences.  Many of us fill up our lives with noises and activities for this very reason.  Spend some time in silence as a group.  Perhaps instead of praying “out loud” tonight, you’ll spend some time in prayerful silence.  I’d encourage you to push the envelope a little bit, spend a little more quiet time than people feeel comfortable with.  It can be really powerful to do this and spend some time sharing what God put on your hearts afterwords.