The Community Guide below is based on Sunday’s teaching which began the new series: Future Church. As your whole Community gathers (online or socially distanced), use the Community Guide below to give shape to your night together.
Begin by Practicing the Lord’s Supper Together (5 minutes)
Begin your night by partaking of the bread and the cup together. Have each person bring their own Communion elements. To facilitate your time, you can either ask a member of your Community to come ready with a short prayer, liturgy, or scripture reading, or assign someone to read this prayer we’ve provided below and spend a moment in silence before continuing:
The first thing we read you doing in the Scriptures, O Creator,
Is to bring order to and create life from chaos.
Even now, so many years later, would you do it again?
As we eat and drink, we remember that you are
The God who loves us,
The God who sees us,
The God who will neither leave nor forsake us.
Come now and fill out time together with joy and clarity of mind and heart.
Let us love you. Let us see you. And let us neither leave nor forsake you.
Emotional Health Check-in (15 Minutes)
Take a few minutes to do an emotional health check-in with your Community, creating space for each person to answer the question below:
- In what areas of your life do you feel like you are bumping up against your limits? Do you sense any invitation from God as you notice these limits?
If the need arises, spend a few minutes praying for one another, asking God to meet needs and help each person carry what feels heavy right now.
Scripture Reading (5 Minutes)
Assign one reader to read Psalm 80 aloud for your Community. After reading, spend 30–60 seconds in silence.
Read this Overview (5 Mins)
While we are still in a season of perseverance—statistics show that we are in the worst phase of the virus with more people dying now than ever—there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Spring is on the horizon; new life is around the corner. The time is now for letting new seeds germinate in the soil of your heart and grow into new life. Over the next two months, we want to stretch the atrophied muscles of our hope and practice dreaming: about our future together in Portland and about the kind of church and followers of Jesus we want to be on the other side of COVID-19.
Many followers of Jesus now believe that the future of the church will be neo-monastic, drawing on the centuries-old convictions of church mothers and fathers. Instead of leaving our lives and joining monasteries, though, it will look more like a robust discipleship to Jesus in a thick web of interdependent relationships, through what the ancients called a rule of life.
Over the next 2 months, we will be looking at the type of community we want to return to the world as. They will involve 8 practices that correlate to 8 challenges that we will face. We want to become:
- A community of tight-knit loving relationships in a culture of individualism through the practice of community.
- A community of orthodoxy in a culture of ideological idolatry through the practice of scripture.
- A community of holiness in a culture of moral relativism through the practice of prayer and fasting.
- A community of peace in a culture of fear through the practice of silence and solitude.
- A community of peacemakers in a culture of political polarization through the practice of hospitality.
- A community of rest in a culture of exhaustion through the practice of sabbath.
- A community of contribution in a culture of careerism through the practice of vocation.
- A community of justice in a culture of social Darwinism through the practice of simplicity and generosity.
Debrief this Sunday’s Teaching (15 Minutes)
With that in mind, work through the following discussion questions as a Community:
- When you think about the future of the church, what do you feel? (Hope? Fear? Uncertainty?) Why do you think you feel that?
- Which of the 8 challenges feels the present in your life?
- What would you like the church of the future to look like?
Prayer (10 Minutes)
Spend a few minutes praying for God’s grace over each other, that we might become a people who make Jesus our Lord, and that there might be a sweeping renewal of the Holy Spirit in our city. Ask that God would stir up within us a desire to be with him in prayer and to serve him and our neighbor in love.
Practice For The Week Ahead: Reflect on Your Current Rule of Life (5 Minutes)
As we head into this series, take some time this week to think through how the 8 listed Practices (community, scripture, prayer and fasting, silence and solitude, hospitality, sabbath, vocation, and simplicity and generosity) are already a part of your life. Whether you’re doing some of them or all of them, spend time figuring out what your current Rule of Life includes. Each week of this series will be spent looking at one of the eight Practices, so taking time to reflect this week on where you already are will be helpful as we dive into each individually.
For each of the 8 Practices, ask yourself the following questions:
- In what ways is this Practice already a part of my life? If not presently, have they been a part of your life in a different season?
- Which of the 8 Practices am I more naturally wired towards?
- Which of the 8 Practices will be more challenging for me?
Spend some time asking Jesus to be your guide as you start to craft a Rule of Life for returning to the world out of COVID-19, and thank him for his kindness towards you as you remember that he has your good in mind.