TiO 45 – The Story – Missional Excuses

DOWNLOAD PDF

The Main Idea

After many blessings and curses in his life the whole family of Joseph and his brothers are living comfortably in Egypt. But in Chapter 4 the tide changes and the Egyptians, fearful of the success of the people of Israel, devise many ways to oppress them. The rest of Chapter 4 is God’s deliverance of the people of Israel from the hands of the Egyptians and the beginning of their journey to the land that God had promised Abraham in Chapter 2.

Warm Up Questions: (Choose 1 or 2)

Q1: Have you ever had an experience where you ended up somewhere where the Pharaoh was different and you had to start all over again gaining a reputation? This could be school, work, or a group you are a part of. Tell that story.

Q2: Have you ever been to a desert? Talk about the experience and then speculate what it would be like to wander for 40 years in that desert.

Q3: Sometimes we have to prepare a long time before we can do a job or a task. Do you have a story like that, where you had to prepare for years (or decades) before your job became clear and you could finally begin to do it?

Dig a Little Deeper

The central characters in chapter 4 are Moses, Pharaoh, and God. In the chapter we see the people of Israel thriving in an oppressive environment at the hand of a Pharaoh—perhaps more than one over many decades—who does not know what great things God, though Joseph, had done for Egypt. To relieve the oppression God raises up Moses who leads the people of Israel out of Egypt, but not before God shows his power to the Pharaoh and establishes who is really in charge.

Act 1: The Egyptian Oppression (pp. 43-44)

“Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt.”

Chapter 4 begins with the generation of Joseph dying out leaving a million (or so) descendants of Israel—by the end of the chapter, anyway—and a ruler in the land of Egypt who did not know Jospeh and felt no obligation to his family. Fearing that this crowd of foreigners in their land would somehow rise up against them, and seeing the opportunity for hands to do work, the Egyptians began to oppress the people of Israel and force them into labour.

Act 2: We Meet Moses (pp. 44-45)

“[Pharaoh’s daughter] named [the baby] Moses, saying, ‘I drew him out of the water.’”

Despite a command to kill all the Israelite baby boys in Egypt, the people continued to flourish. And out of that circumstance a leader was raised up. Because of the danger, Moses’ mother placed him in a pond, and because of that pond he was discovered by the daughter of the King of Egypt, and because of that discovery Moses was raised in the court of the King of Egypt, and because of that upbringing he was uniquely suited to be the one who stood between God and the Pharaoh to negotiate the release of the people of Israel.

Act 3: The Calling of Moses (pp. 45-47)

“The LORD said, ‘… And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.’”

Moses was a reluctant servant. Despite meeting with God face to face he doubted his own ability to carry out God’s plan. But, in the end, accompanied by is brother Aaron, Moses returned to Egypt to convince the Pharaoh to let the people of God leave the land of Egypt.

Act 4: The Plagues and Escape from Egypt (pp. 47-55)

“Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: because of my mighty hand he will let [my people] go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country.’”

Getting out of Egypt was not easy. Moses negotiated with Pharaoh on behalf of God. Reluctance turned into staunch stubbornness as God rained plague after plague on the land, livestock, and people of Egypt. Finally, with the killing of the firstborn of each family, the pain was too much too bear and the Pharaoh send the people of Israel out of the country. Even after that, the Pharaoh changed his mind and it took killing much of his army in the Red Sea for him to finally turn back and leave the people of Israel alone.

Act 5: Wandering in the Wilderness Begins (pp. 55-57)

“The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, traveling from place to place as the LORD commanded.”

Escape from Egypt was not the end of the problems that the people of Israel had, in fact, it was only the beginning. But from the start of their long, and often pointless, journey in the wilderness, God established that he would care for them, providing water and food for their daily needs.

Looking back at the story, the theme of the greatness of God and his deliverance is clear. The people of Israel were in bondage to Egypt and God, through the obedience of his servants and through mighty acts of power, allowed them to leave their oppressors. The remembrance of this time and its reenactment throughout the centuries that followed has become the Jewish celebration of Passover. Here are some things to discuss:

  • Remembering

The Jews had quite a number of festivals where they remembered significant times in their lives with God.

Q1: Why do you think it was (and continues to be) so important to the Jews to remember the Passover?

It is no coincidence that when Jesus celebrated with his disciples the first Lord’s Supper (Eucharist) it was held on the Passover. And the church has replaced Passover celebration with the celebration of the Lord’s Supper.

Q2: What is the importance of remembrance in the lives of the followers of Jesus of the Lord’s Supper?

  • Re-enacting

Celebrations were not just about remembering. The physical symbols, the actions, the reciting of specific words, these are all designed to bring people into the moment of the first event.

Some churches practice yearly Seder celebrations: this is the modern Passover. While most followers of Jesus have never been to a Seder, most of us have experienced a celebration of the Lord’s Supper.

Q3: How does re-enacting an event differ from simply talking about it?

Next Steps

The theme of deliverance is ongoing in the lives of the followers of Jesus. First, we think of our initial deliverance from Sin: the power of the world over us and the release that comes as we begin to follow Jesus. But, second, there is also the deliverance that comes to us day to day as we live our lives and we overcome, through the power of the Holy Spirit, the constant pull of sin in the world and in our own bodies and minds.

Q1: What parallels to your own life do you see in the story of the deliverance of the people of Israel, as found in Chapter 4 of The Story? Share those stories with your group.

Struggling with temptation is not sin. Satan would have us believe that because we are tempted by certain things we are, therefore, sinful, but that is not true. For all of us we struggle with certain sins, some for only a time, others for all of our lives. Our thought must always be to the forgiveness that Jesus has given to us and the power that the Holy Spirit provides to overcome those temptations before we give in to them and sin.

Q2: What temptations do you struggle with? What do you need deliverance from?

Pray specifically for each other for those temptations and struggles that are mentioned. Rather than simply praying out in a circle do something new this week in your prayer time. For each member of your group, form a circle, put your hands on him or her, and pray specifically for strength to overcome the sin and to break its power in his or her life.

TiO 15 – The Story – Missional Excuses

DOWNLOAD PDF

The Main Idea

After many blessings and curses in his life the whole family of Joseph and his brothers are living comfortably in Egypt. But in Chapter 4 the tide changes and the Egyptians, fearful of the success of the people of Israel, devise many ways to oppress them. The rest of Chapter 4 is God’s deliverance of the people of Israel from the hands of the Egyptians and the beginning of their journey to the land that God had promised Abraham in Chapter 2.

Warm Up Questions: (Choose 1 or 2)

Q1: Have you ever had an experience where you ended up somewhere where the Pharaoh was different and you had to start all over again gaining a reputation? This could be school, work, or a group you are a part of. Tell that story.

Q2: Have you ever been to a desert? Talk about the experience and then speculate what it would be like to wander for 40 years in that desert.

Q3: Sometimes we have to prepare a long time before we can do a job or a task. Do you have a story like that, where you had to prepare for years (or decades) before your job became clear and you could finally begin to do it?

The theme of deliverance is ongoing in the lives of the followers of Jesus. 1) we think of our initial deliverance from Sin: the power of the world over us and the release that comes as we begin to follow Jesus. 2) there is also the deliverance that comes to us day to day as we live our lives and we overcome, through the power of the Holy Spirit, the constant pull of sin in the world and in our own bodies and minds.

Q1: What parallels to your own life do you see in the story of the deliverance of the people of Israel, as found in Chapter 4 of The Story? Share those stories with your group.

Q2: What temptations do you struggle with? What do you need deliverance from?

Pray specifically for each other for those temptations and struggles that are mentioned. Rather than simply praying out in a circle do something new this week in your prayer time. For each member of your group, form a circle, put your hands on him or her, and pray specifically for strength to overcome the sin and to break its power in his or her life.

TiO 45 – The Story – But God…

DOWNLOAD PDF

The Main Idea

In chapter 3 we see one primary story, the story of Joseph. This is the story about a flawed family and the son who experienced hardship and grace and then was able to dispense grace in return. Joseph’s life was success followed by tragedy at regular intervals: His brothers, Potiphar, Pharaoh. In the end, Joseph’s faithfulness set the stage for the beginnings of the nation that God promised to Abraham.

Warm Up Questions: (Choose 1 or 2)

Q1: Many of us heard Bible stories when we were children, at home, in Sunday School, or in other places. What Bible story from your childhood do you remember as being most significant? Why?

Q2: Have you seen a Bible story that was made into a movie? Talk about your impressions, good or bad, of these stories.

Q3: Have you ever had a moment where someone granted you a significant amount of grace in a circumstance? Tell that story.

The story of Joseph is difficult to hear because in it we see a guy who followed God but we see that his desire to follow God got him into trouble with people. Through all of those circumstances we see Joseph coming back time to his reliance on God and dispensing grace to the people around him.

Q1: Are you currently in a situation where you are (or should be) giving out grace to someone who has wronged you? Share that story if you can.

Q2: What is your response when someone else can give you grace but does not? What can the story of Joseph teach us about those circumstances?

Dig a Little Deeper

Joseph’s life was not boring, full of excitement you might say. And at each exciting turn came both the taste of success brought about by God’s work in his life, and the tragedy that came because of the sin of others.

Act 1: Sold into Slavery (pp. 29-30)

“So [Israel] said to [Joseph], ‘Go an see if all is well with your brothers and with the flocks, and bring word back to me.’”

In Act 1 we carry on the story from chapter 2. As that chapter closed we heard of Jacob’s special relationship with his son Joseph, the special coat that he was given to wear, and the dreams that Joseph had. All of this was an incredible strain on his relationship with his older brothers. And that is where chapter 3 picks up the story.

Act 2: Potiphar and Prison (pp. 31-33)

“The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered.” That begins the story of Joseph in the house of Potiphar, his master. But, despite the blessing of God, Potiphar’s wife wants more than Joseph is willing to give and Joseph ends up in prison. While in prison he is seen to be a good and faithful man and in addition to being given authority over prison administration he discovers an ability to interpret dreams.

Act 3: Joseph the Governor (pp. 33-40)

“Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘I had a dream and no one can interpret it.’”

And with that Joseph’s final blessing begins. He is made governor of Egypt and reconciles with his family.

Act 4: Jacob’s (Israel) Family moves to Egypt (pp. 40-42)

“And God spoke to Israel in a vision at night … ‘I am the God of your father … do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you a great nation there.’”

And with that the family of Israel (for that is all they were at that time) moved to Egypt, the next step in their journey first to the land of promise—remember Abraham.

Looking back at the story, there are a few themes that occur:

  • Lack of Repentance

In the story of Joseph being sold into slavery and of Potiphar’s wife we see not only sin but the failure to repent even given the potential harm of the sin.

Q1: Joseph’s brothers formed a conspiracy to get rid of Jospeh. What were the consequences of that conspiracy?

Q2: Potiphar’s wife let her lust (or her power) overwhelm her ability to do the right thing. What was the result in her not (ever) admitting to what she had done?

  • God’s Blessing, Human Curses

Over and over we see the contrast between the blessing of God on Joseph and the consequence of the sin of others.

Q3: Looking at some or all of the stories, talk about the contrasts between God blessing and humans cursing Joseph.

Q4: In the stories we are told, how does Joseph react to both the blessings and the curses?

Next Steps

The story of Joseph is difficult to hear because in it we see a guy who followed God but we see that his desire to follow God got him into trouble with people. Through all of those circumstances we see Joseph coming back time to his reliance on God and dispensing grace to the people around him.

Q1: Are you currently in a situation where you are (or should be) giving out grace to someone who has wronged you? Share that story if you can.

Q2: What is your response when someone else can give you grace but does not? What can the story of Joseph teach us about those circumstances?

Pray that, like Joseph, you will embrace the grace that God gives and have the courage to dispense grace to those who do not deserve it, especially those who have hurt you.

TiO 15 – The Story – But God…

DOWNLOAD PDF

The Main Idea

In chapter 3 we see one primary story, the story of Joseph. This is the story about a flawed family and the son who experienced hardship and grace and then was able to dispense grace in return. Joseph’s life was success followed by tragedy at regular intervals: His brothers, Potiphar, Pharaoh. In the end, Joseph’s faithfulness set the stage for the beginnings of the nation that God promised to Abraham.

Warm Up Questions: (Choose 1 or 2)

Q1: Many of us heard Bible stories when we were children, at home, in Sunday School, or in other places. What Bible story from your childhood do you remember as being most significant? Why?

Q2: Have you seen a Bible story that was made into a movie? Talk about your impressions, good or bad, of these stories.

Q3: Have you ever had a moment where someone granted you a significant amount of grace in a circumstance? Tell that story.

The story of Joseph is difficult to hear because in it we see a guy who followed God but we see that his desire to follow God got him into trouble with people. Through all of those circumstances we see Joseph coming back time to his reliance on God and dispensing grace to the people around him.

Q1: Are you currently in a situation where you are (or should be) giving out grace to someone who has wronged you? Share that story if you can.

Q2: What is your response when someone else can give you grace but does not? What can the story of Joseph teach us about those circumstances?

Pray that, like Joseph, you will embrace the grace that God gives and have the courage to dispense grace to those who do not deserve it, especially those who have hurt you.

TiO 15 – The Story – Come to the Altar!

DOWNLOAD PDF

The Main Idea

This week began the second major arc in The Story, the preparation for God’s final act of reconciliation with humans. The Old Testament, as this is commonly referred to, is not an old and irrelevant story but is, in fact, essential to understanding the story of Jesus.

Chapter 2 from The Story recounts the stories of the lives of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, with a small, but significant character named Ishmael. The story of Abraham is, in so many ways, a story of altars.  One altar in particular. In the message this week, Todd called us to discover the six altars in the life of Abraham and a call to be altered…by God’s work at the altar.

Warm Up Questions: (Choose 1 or 2)

Q1: Have you ever seen an altar? Tell the story of the circumstance and the function of that altar.

Q2: Have you ever had to make a significant sacrifice? Why did you have to do it? What was the result?

Pray together for the things in your life that need to be sacrificed. Pray for courage and resolve.

TiO 45 – The Story – Come to the Altar!

DOWNLOAD PDF

The Main Idea

This week began the second major arc in The Story, the preparation for God’s final act of reconciliation with humans. The Old Testament, as this is commonly referred to, is not an old and irrelevant story but is, in fact, essential to understanding the story of Jesus.

Chapter 2 from The Story recounts the stories of the lives of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, with a small, but significant character named Ishmael. The story of Abraham is, in so many ways, a story of altars.  One altar in particular. In the message this week, Todd called us to discover the six altars in the life of Abraham and a call to be altered…by God’s work at the altar.

Warm Up Questions: (Choose 1 or 2)

Q1: Have you ever seen an altar? Tell the story of the circumstance and the function of that altar.

Q2: Have you ever had to make a significant sacrifice? Why did you have to do it? What was the result?

Dig a Little Deeper

Faith always comes to life when something dies on an altar. That was the message that Todd brought to us from the life of Abraham. Throughout his life, Abraham faced significant challenges to his faith in a faithful God. Each time, Abraham chose to sacrifice his own desires and, instead, chose to trust in the promises of God. Todd identified 6 altars in Abraham’s life:

Read the second paragraph of page 14.

  • The Altar of Obedience

Q1: How does Abraham show his obedience to God? What is at stake for him in being obedient?

Rather than question the prudence or sanity of abandoning his life and livelihood in Shechem, Abraham obeyed God and moved into an unknown land.

Read the fifth paragraph of page 14.

  • The Altar of Worship

Q2: What does “worship” mean?

Abraham set up an altar and there he worshipped God. Rather than getting on with his busy life and his travels Abraham stopped to build an altar and to worship God.

From Genesis 13:3-4 we read: He journeyed on by stages from the Negeb as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, to the place where he had made an altar at the first; and there Abram called on the name of the Lord.

  • The Altar of Repentance

In the narrative, Abraham does not repent at the altar which he returns to for he has no sin to declare to God. However the idea of returning to a former place after you have wandered away from a path you were following is a great example of repentance.

Read paragraphs 4 & 5 on page 14

  • The Altar of Separation

Q3: Why did Abraham feel a need to separate himself from Lot?

 

Lot’s problems did not happen until after Abraham separated himself from Lot. But perhaps Abraham had a feeling (or a nudge from God) that something was going to happen. While, like Abraham, we need to be involved in the lives of those people around us, even when those lives are messy and, perhaps, sinful, we need to ensure that we are not so connected to them that we cannot resist being pulled into the same sin that they are engaged in. Abraham eventually had to go and rescue Lot, so he knew about Lot’s troubles and was able to offer help when Lot really needed it.

Read the italicized text starting at the bottom of page 14 and ending on page 15. This is not direct from Genesis, instead it is a summary of the events that happened.

  • The Altar of the Tithe

Q4: According to the portion you just read, why did Abraham give 10% of the spoils of the battle to Melchizedek?

There are all kinds or reasons that we give to God. While many would say that giving to God is done because there is a rule about it, God makes it clear in scripture that it is not a rule that is most important. Instead, it is a heart attitude which acknowledges that our success comes from God and giving to him is returning to him a part of what he gave to us in the first place.

Read the story of the (almost) sacrifice of Isaac: from the middle of page 19 to the middle of page 20.

  • The Altar of Sacrifice

Q5: Did Abraham believe that he was actually supposed to kill Isaac? 

Q6: What was God’s plan in asking Abraham to sacrifice Isaac?

Q7: According to the last paragraph on page 20, what was the result of Abraham’s obedience?

We often hear people say, “I am willing to sacrifice, God just has not asked me to.” In this story, while it was probably God’s intention simply to test Abraham’s obedience, this was a very real request that God had of Abraham: to sacrifice his only son, the son through which the promise would be fulfilled. Abraham did not say, “I think this is just a test so I do not have to follow through”. Instead he, in obedience listened to and obeyed God.

Next Steps

We face the need to sacrifice every day. Each of the altars that Todd talked about are altars that we have to place parts of our past, present, and futures on. But the reward for sacrifice is huge. As was said many times during the message, Faith always comes to life when something dies on an altar.

Q1: Which of the altars mentioned in the sermon do you have the most trouble with? Why?

Q2: As you consider your life, what part of it—something in the past, present, or future—do you need to sacrifice in order to fully follow God?

Pray together for the things in your life that need to be sacrificed. Pray for courage and resolve.

TiO 15 – The Story – Creation

DOWNLOAD PDF

The Main Idea

In the beginning God created. This week Todd began at the beginning, when the story of God and the story of human beings were one story. He spoke of the rebellion of people against God and the start of a second story, a lower story, which describes the path of humanity as it tries to restore its relationship with God.

Warm Up Questions: (Choose 1 or 2)

Q1: Have you ever read the whole Bible from start to finish? For those who have, what was the experience like? For those who have not, talk about what has kept you from doing so?

Q2: As you begin to read and study The Story together as a small group, what do each of you hope to get out of this experience? Have each person talk about their hopes and expectations.

Q3: Reading a chapter of The Story each week will take some discipline. Will there be a particular time or place that you will do the reading for the week? Is there a way that you can be accountable to each other?

Throughout the rest of the Old Testament (up to the end of chapter 21) we are going to see God leading the people of Israel through reconciliation with him.

Q1: What is your beginning story? Do you have a story about the beginning of your relationship with God? If you do, tell your group about it.

Q2: Do you need help keeping up with your reading? Maybe you need a “buddy” to be accountable to. Talk together about the barriers you will have to reading a chapter every week and what supports you can put in place to make sure that it happens.

Pray that God would open your mind and your spirit to hearing new things from him in his ancient story.

TiO 45 – The Story – Creation

DOWNLOAD PDF

The Main Idea

In the beginning God created. This week Todd began at the beginning, when the story of God and the story of human beings were one story. He spoke of the rebellion of people against God and the start of a second story, a lower story, which describes the path of humanity as it tries to restore its relationship with God.

Warm Up Questions: (Choose 1 or 2)

Q1: Have you ever read the whole Bible from start to finish? For those who have, what was the experience like? For those who have not, talk about what has kept you from doing so?

Q2: As you begin to read and study The Story together as a small group, what do each of you hope to get out of this experience? Have each person talk about their hopes and expectations.

Q3: Reading a chapter of The Story each week will take some discipline. Will there be a particular time or place that you will do the reading for the week? Is there a way that you can be accountable to each other?

Dig a Little Deeper

In trying to understand the narrative of the Bible, we must ask some important questions. While these questions are always essential, there are some places in the Bible where it is especially important for us to remember that the questions we have (as modern people) are not always the questions that the Bible is answering. Here are some questions to ask of the Bible passage you are studying:

  1. What do the words say?
  2. What do the words mean?
  3. Who wrote the words?
  4. Who were the words written to?
  5. Why were they written?

As we look at the stories found in Genesis it is easy to get caught up in our questions. Questions like: “How did God create the world?” And “What were the timelines in the creation of the world?” And “When did God do all of this?” The problem is, the people of the ancient world did not really care about those things. And it was not God’s purpose to give anyone a science lesson when he had Moses write these things down. Instead, God wanted to talk about his relationship with humans, and in specific, the start of his relationship with the people of Israel.

So, the stories in Genesis are the stories of relationships.

Q1: What do the stories in Genesis tell us about God?

Q2: What do the stories in Genesis tell us about people?

Read from The Story, pages 5-6, together.

In the terminology we are using during our time studying The Story we are using the term Lower Story to describe the story of human beings and the term Upper Story to describe the story of God. While there should only have been one story, the one initial story was split into two because of the sin of the first humans.

Q3: What is the essence of the story of the fall? That is, what happened?

At the end of the story of the fall (bottom of page 6) we see God intervene in the lives of the humans. He provides them with clothing. Todd spoke of the significance of this clothing, not just as a converting for their bodies but as a symbol of the covering of something else.

Q4: What is the spiritual significance and symbolism of God providing clothing for the two humans?

This would be a good time to talk together about the end of the first chapter of the book. What happens? Remember that the focus for you as an interpreter of scripture is not “how” or “when” but instead “who” and “why”.

Next Steps

Throughout the rest of the Old Testament (up to the end of chapter 21) we are going to see God leading the people of Israel through reconciliation with him.

Q1: What is your beginning story? Do you have a story about the beginning of your relationship with God? If you do, tell your group about it.

Q2: Do you need help keeping up with your reading? Maybe you need a “buddy” to be accountable to. Talk together about the barriers you will have to reading a chapter every week and what supports you can put in place to make sure that it happens.

Pray that God would open your mind and your spirit to hearing new things from him in his ancient story.

TiO 45 – Alpha – Church: Welcome Home

DOWNLOAD PDF

The Main Idea

What is the church? There are so many ideas about what the church is. This week Todd talks about some of those.

Warm Up Questions: (Choose 1 or 2)

Q1: What do you remember most about the home where you grew up?

Q2: If you had to choose between two houses that had the same square footage, would you choose one that was high or wide?

Q3: More land or more house? Explain your preference. 

Dig a Little Deeper

The identity of the church is complicated. The Bible uses a lot of different examples and metaphors to describe what the church is. It is a body, it is a bride, it is a gathered community, it is a community set apart. This week Todd talked about the church as a community of people and described some of the essential characteristics found in a healthy one.

Read Genesis 28:10-19

In this passage, Jacob has an encounter with God in a dream.

Q1: What does Jacob see and how does he interpret his dream?

Q2: We often say that the “church is not a building”. Does that mean buildings (places) are not significant in our encounters with God?

Q3: We often say that the “church is not an organization”. Does that mean that the organization of the church does not matter?

The primary way that we speak of the church is as a community. A group of people, more than the sum of its parts, who are all followers of Jesus. In fact, the word most often translated in the New Testament as church is ἐκκλησία (ecclesia) which means “a called-out assembly.”

Todd identified four characteristics of this community of people. The church is a community characterized by:

  • Unconditional love, grace, and acceptance

Q4: How do you deal with sin in such a place?

  • Holiness and right living

Q5: Why is being set apart and living right important in the life of the church?

  • Unity

Q6: Does unity mean no disagreements? If that is not what it means then how would you characterize unity in the church?

Q7: How important is unity with other groups of Jesus-followers? To what extent should we go to be unified with Christians with whom we do not agree?

  • Focus on a mission

Q8: What is the mission of the church?

Q9: Does the mission of each group of Jesus-followers need to look the same?


Next Steps

The church is the community of God: the place where God lives and the body through which he works. But how it actually looks depends on the vision of the people who gather. We must all see our responsibility to ensure that the church, in this case, the gathered community called Riverwood, displays the characteristics that Todd spoke about: acceptance, holiness, unity, and mission.

Q1: Which of the four characteristics do you have the most difficulty working out in the church community called Riverwood? What makes that difficult for you?

Q2: What part of the mission of the church are you most passionate about? What are you doing to see that mission realized?

Pray for Riverwood, that we would be able to show to the world acceptance, holiness, unity, and the mission of Jesus.

Pray for each other as you acknowledge the areas in which you are weak and where you need the strength of Jesus, through the church, to help you.

The Scriptures

In this section we are provide the scriptures referenced in this study. Some are core to the lesson, others can optionally be read and discussed as part of your time together.

These are the scriptures referenced in the sermon.

Genesis 28:10-19 (NRSV)

            Jacob left Beer-sheba and went toward Haran. He came to a certain place and stayed there for the night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And the Lord stood beside him and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring; and your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring. Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!” And he was afraid, and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”

So Jacob rose early in the morning, and he took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. He called that place Bethel; but the name of the city was Luz at the first.

Video Resources

Here is a link to the Alpha video from last week. It is about 30 minutes long and well worth watching as you prepare to study this Talk it Over together.

https://vimeo.com/215026615

TiO 15 – Alpha – Church: Welcome Home

DOWNLOAD PDF

The Main Idea

What is the church? There are so many ideas about what the church is. This week Todd talks about some of those.

Warm Up Questions: (Choose 1 or 2)

Q1: What do you remember most about the home where you grew up?

Q2: If you had to choose between two houses that had the same square footage, would you choose one that was high or wide?

Q3: More land or more house? Explain your preference. 

The Word

Read the scripture aloud: Genesis 28:16-17 

Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!” And he was afraid, and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”

The church is the community of God: the place where God lives and the body through which he works. But how it actually looks depends on the vision of the people who gather. We must all see our responsibility to ensure that the church, in this case, the gathered community called Riverwood, displays the characteristics that Todd spoke about: acceptance, holiness, unity, and mission.

Q1: Which of the four characteristics do you have the most difficulty working out in the church community called Riverwood? What makes that difficult for you?

Q2: What part of the mission of the church are you most passionate about? What are you doing to see that mission realized?

Pray for Riverwood, that we would be able to show to the world acceptance, holiness, unity, and the mission of Jesus.

Pray for each other as you acknowledge the areas in which you are weak and where you need the strength of Jesus, through the church, to help you.