The Community Guide below is based on Sunday’s teaching for our current series on the Gospel according to Matthew. 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 three words would you use to describe your week?
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)
In Matthew 22, Jesus is confronted by the Pharisees about whether or not it’s lawful for Torah-observant Jews to pay Rome’s steep tax. While on its face (to a 21st-century reader) this may seem like a fairly straightforward question of Torah interpretation, the question in fact had high stakes in Jesus’ time. In their political climate, the Pharisees may as well have been asking “Do I get to keep my own money? Or, is it okay to be forced to give over money to a violent occupying government?”
They intended to trap Jesus into an answer that painted him as either a co-conspirator, sympathizing with Rome’s rules over and above God’s—or a rebel against Rome, prepared to overthrow the ruling government. But, Jesus offers another option, painting a different picture about money, and what’s truly ours to give. Jesus instructs the Pharisees to give to Caesar what is Caesars, and to God what is God’s. Or, said another way: Let the government take what they want. The real treasure you have to give is yourself. Money may have Caesar’s image on it, but we have God’s image on us.
At the core of who God is, exists a deep, self-giving generosity. As those made in God’s image, we are invited to live into deep generosity as well. When we accept and believe that everything we have is gift, generosity will become our natural posture in life towards those around us. If all we have, including our very selves, belongs to God, is there anything we cannot afford to give in love?
Debrief this Sunday’s Teaching (20 Minutes)
With that in mind, work through the following discussion questions as a Community:
- What experiences have you had with radical or unexpected generosity (perhaps as a recipient, giver, or witness)? What impact did that experience have on you? Did it change how you viewed God or others?
- Is there an area of your life where you’ve felt God push you to be more generous with your money or time? What step could you take toward following that call this week or month?
- Where are you feeling scarcity in your life? (Or put another way, where are you feeling pushed to give yourself or your money away?) How might you invite Jesus into that pressed place?
Practice For The Week Ahead: Generosity (5 Minutes)
This week, we want to take some time to intentionally practice generosity.
Intentionally schedule some time this week to sit before God. Invite the Spirit to make you aware of his presence. Abide in silence for a few moments. And then ask the question: If you were me, how would you practice generosity? Or How would you spend my money if you got my paycheck? Or, where are you inviting me to explore a new way of thinking about what I own?
When taking a step towards generosity, it’s helpful to start small. Small actions grow into bigger mindsets, which build habits. As we like to say, start where you’re at, not where you think you should be. If you’re out of work right now, or in debt, that’s okay. Just start where you are and with what you have. Here are a few ideas based on what stage of life you find yourself in right now:
- Pay for someone else — While you’re in the drive-thru or in line at the grocery store or coffee shop, or out at dinner, consider paying for someone else’s bill. Most places will allow you to do it in secret, without being able to take credit for it.
- Give to an organization — If you have some money set aside, consider giving to a nonprofit whose mission you feel excited about.
- Consider the poor — When giving, we encourage you to give to a person or cause that you care about, but with special attention to the poor. This can be as easy as packing lunches for our houseless neighbors.
- Give in secret — Over the next few weeks, pay close attention to the needs of those around you, including those in your Community or workplace. Find a way to meet that need in a practical way without taking credit for it.
- Follow the Spirit — Invite the Spirit to speak to you as you go about your day, to show you what you wouldn’t normally see. Be open to God showing you opportunities to be generous to those around you. And then take the step and do it.
Lastly, as you take a step towards generosity, watch what happens in your heart. Watch as you feel more free, more happy, more content, more in the inner-life of God himself, and let that spur you on to even greater generosity.
Prayer (10 Minutes)
Spend a few minutes praying for God’s grace over each other, that we might become people who practice generosity like God. Pray for whatever else comes to mind and heart.