The Community Guide below is based on Sunday’s teaching for our current 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 the scripture we’ve provided below and spend a moment in silence before continuing.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
Emotional Health Check-in (10 Minutes)
As we focus in on this series, we want to continue to create space for checking in on each other, but doing so in a shorter amount of time. Take a few minutes to do an emotional health check-in with your Community, creating space for each person to answer the question below:
- What’s something you’re looking forward to about the coming season? What’s something you feel anxiety or uncertainty about?
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.
Read this Overview (5 Mins)
We live in a world of noise. Throughout the day and night, we are bombarded with messages from advertisers, from friends, and from the phone that has become what feels like an extension to our arms. It feels like all that noise is not just coming from without, but from within, as everything we take in begins to take root in our hearts and minds, constantly pulling at us, needling us to be anxious, outraged, afraid.
In contrast, the way of Jesus is the way of quiet. Of love and compassion. Of deep peace. How can we enter into God’s rest and way of quiet love in a world like ours? Through the practice of silence and solitude, or time alone with God in the quiet, we cultivate within ourselves a refuge to return to God and a deep peace out of which we can live in community with others based on love, not fear.
Jesus himself often withdrew to “lonely places” and prayed. Those lonely places, as they were for Jesus, are for us the places of encounter with our true selves and with God, and the place where God will transform us.
Debrief this Sunday’s Teaching (20 Minutes)
With that in mind, work through the following discussion questions as a Community:
- How would you describe the noise level (literal or metaphorical) in your life? Do your days feel overstimulating or “noisy,” or are there pockets of peace and quiet?
- Has there been a time in your life when you felt you operated out of peace and confidence? What did it look like? What contributed to that peace and confidence?
- What appeals to you about building in time for silence and solitude with God into your week? What, if anything, makes you anxious?
- What could get in the way of practicing silence and solitude this week?
Practice For The Week Ahead: Revisiting your Rule of Life for Silence & Solitude (10 Minutes)
This week, continue revising and working on your Rule of Life Chart, keeping in mind that the goal is not to fill in every box, but to come to a good balance and rhythm in each category.
As you work through the Silence & Solitude section, consider what your existing practices are in this area and write them down. Take some time to consider and pray through what your next step in silence & solitude might be, and what God is inviting you into in this season of your life. Remember, aim to start where you are, not where you think you “should” be.
Below are a few ideas to get you started as you brainstorm and pray through your next step in silence and solitude.
- Entry-Level Practice: Attempt a short period of silence and solitude once a week. This could be a short, 10 minute time of silence to start a particular day or days of the week.
- Baseline Practice: Adopt a rhythm of silence and solitude each day, perhaps in the morning.
- Reach Practice: Expand your practice of silence and solitude by planning regular days or trips for silence and solitude. You can spend the day at a local abbey, somewhere in the wilderness, or wherever you can find a quiet place.
If you find yourself having trouble with this practice, please know it’s not just expected but normal. Consider this rhythm for your time in silence and solitude:
- Relax: Let your mind and body calm down. Try slowing reading through a psalm, attending to your breath, or repeating a simple prayer.
- Detach: Sometimes called yielding or surrender, practice releasing your anxieties, the circumstances of your life, and your will over to God in prayer.
- Look: The heart of prayer is looking at God, looking at you in love. Spend time considering, looking at, contemplating God. Look beyond the other thoughts that crop up, redirecting your mind as needed back to the Father.
- Listen: It’s been said that the primary posture of a disciple of Jesus is sitting at his feet and listening. God has direct access to your mind—in the stillness, listen to what the Lord might be saying to you.
- Love: End your time by resting in God’s love, anchoring yourself in the peace of his presence.
Again, the goal is not to adopt a regimented practice of silence for the sake of checking a box, but for the purpose of being someone who day-by-day is becoming transformed and freed by time alone with God in the quiet.
Prayer (10 Minutes)
Spend a few minutes praying for God’s grace over each other, that we might become a people who seek refuge with the Father in the quiet place, 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, one another, and our neighbor in love.