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March 29, 2012

Know Thyself

Is knowing self important to our faith journey?

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I recently came across this quotation from Honest Christianity, and it got me thinking. He states that an important factor in our faith journey is getting to know ourselves—which may not be what we normally think of. We think about growing closer to God, becoming more servant-minded, and building relationships with others. But what if all those things depend on getting to know ourselves first?

"Prideful creatures that we are, it is hard for us to acknowledge what we do not like or respect, or what we sense others will disparage. It is so much easier, so more convenient, at least in the moment, to deny the existence of the distasteful. God, however, is truthful, and to truthfulness he calls us. He wants us to know ourselves, so that in the process, we can grasp just how much he loves us. We need not fear what is inside us, however heinous, however awful, however base. God already knows all about it, and he loves us anyway—which is, in fact, the good news of Jesus Christ . . . Our life with God will thrive only to the extent that we purpose in our hearts, sincerely and relentlessly, to reckon with truth—about him, about others, about ourselves." --Clinton W. McLemore in Honest Christianity

Do you agree with McLemore? How important is knowing self to our faith journey? When have you seen proof of this?

If it's important, how much time should we spend on getting to know ourselves? How do we balance it with getting to know God and others? And how do we help our small-group members with this?

Share your thoughts and experiences with us below.

posted by Amy Jackson at 8:00 AM | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)

March 27, 2012

Finding God in 'The Hunger Games'

Use the popular movie to spark discussion in your group

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It seems like everyone is talking about The Hunger Games! And for good reason. The trilogy is hard to put down, and it brings up important themes. Here at Christianity Today, we read the books and anxiously awaited the movie's arrival, and we've spent a lot of time discussing it ever since.

Looking for great resources on The Hunger Games? Christianity Today has you covered.

Amy Simpson, editor of Gifted for Leadership, shares how she sees Jesus in The Hunger Games in this article. Spoiler alert! Her article shares a lot about the book series.

The Her.meneutics blog posted on why we need dystopian tales.

Plus, a movie review by Todd Hertz.

Consider using the movie to generate great conversation in your small group. Take a trip together to see the movie. Then use this study guide for great questions and discussion.

What's your take on The Hunger Games? Do you have other ideas on using it in small groups? Share with us below.

posted by Amy Jackson at 2:55 PM | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)

March 15, 2012

Growing Indifference Toward Faith

What should small groups do in the midst of this growing trend?

Our sister resource Out of Ur recently highlighted this short video of David Palau interviewing David Kinnaman of the Barna Group. Kinnaman shares that more and more the unchurched are simply indifferent to the church, and it's a trend we'll see continue to grow over the next 10 years.

This poses big questions for the church: how do we reach a world who doesn't care about us or our message?

My question to you: what can small groups do in the face of this cultural shift to continue to introduce people to the love of Christ? Watch the video and share your thoughts with us below.

Out of Ur is a blog of Leadership Journal that covers important news and challenges impacting the church.

posted by Amy Jackson at 10:20 AM | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)

March 2, 2012

A Resource to Avoid Awkward Moments

Dig deeper into the Word with Keri Wyatt Kent

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Have you ever had one of those moments while discussing Scripture when a group member looked to you and asked, "What does that mean?" Ever felt that pang of panic when you didn't immediately know the answer? Maybe it was as you discussed Matthew 11:28–30 and someone asked what a yoke was or how it could be easy. Maybe it was as you used the terms justice, mercy, and grace in conversation, and someone asked how they were different.

Thanks to Keri Wyatt Kent you may run into fewer of these awkward moments. Kent, author of nine books including Oxygen, Simple Compassion, and Listen, provides two great resources: Deeper into the Word: Old Testament and Deeper into the Word: New Testament. These books each provide 100 reflections on common words in the Bible, providing insight into the original language and the historical context.

So, for instance, if that question about the yoke comes up, you could flip to the entry on yoke, which fleshes out four things the terminology would have sparked in the original hearers' minds. Or, to learn the difference between justice, mercy, and grace, you could flip to any one of those words to see that "justice is getting what you deserve, mercy is not getting what you deserve, [and] grace is getting what you don't deserve." And with 100 word entries in each book, you'll have plenty to learn and look up.

The books are extremely user-friendly. Each entry is about two pages and fleshes out the word in common language and modern-day examples. As you read, you'll learn about the Greek or Hebrew roots and read Scripture passages where the word appears. Use these books during your small-group Bible study to look up words you come across, or use each entry as a devotional to begin your meeting. You could even use the reflections to put together a brief word study that complements your study. With so many ways to use these resources, check them out today and see how they may help your small group go deeper into the Word.

For a sample from these books, check out Why "One Another" Is Important to Understand, which excerpts her entry on "one another" from the New Testament book. Learn more about Keri by visiting her website.

posted by Amy Jackson at 7:57 AM | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)