HOMECHURCH GUIDE


Sanctuary Church

Week of January 16

First Seek / Wk III

OPENING

  1. As we begin a new season spend a few minutes catching up on life. If you have new folks do introductions. *If you are just having dinner this week find some time to cast vision for the group
  2. Set vision:

Our church is built around the call to be a family following the path of Jesus. We believe that to be follower or apprentice of Jesus is to order you life to journey in 4 directions:

UPWARD PATH / LEARNING TO BE WITH JESUS
INWARD PATH / BECOMING LIKE JESUS
OUTWARD PATH / DOING WHAT JESUS DID and the
WITHWARD PATH / FOLLOWING JESUS TOGETHER.

It’s here in HomeChurch where we walk these paths together by engaging in spiritual practices. We don’t want to be people who just hear the Word without putting it into practice, allowing deception into our lives. Our dream is that in becoming a family following the path of Jesus we would
live by faith, be known by love, and be a voice of hope for our city.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • This Sunday: We will continue through this Covid January to meet together at 10am, 15 Hayes St on Sundays
  • Heart: This Tuesday, 7:30pm. 12 Bassett St

EAT & TAKE COMMUNION TOGETHER

At the beginning of a new season we always welcome group to take the time to enjoy a meal together.

We encourage this for most or every time you meet – especially this week as we begin Season one of HomeChurch.

If you do plan to have content this week – we have put a guide together for you.


UPWARD: centering prayer

BEGIN WITH PRAYER (5 MINUTES)
Begin your time together this morning by slowing down, taking a deep breath and centering our hearts and minds on God’s love and presence with us.

You can do this by taking a few deep breaths in and out and repeating a simple prayer such as “The Lord is my shepherd”

Breathe in slowly and deeply as you whisper or think: 
The Lord is my Shepherd…”
Hold your breath and your consciousness in God’s presence…
And then exhale as you whisper or pray: 
“…I shall not want.

INWARD: fasting

READ THIS OVERVIEW

Our prayer, following Jesus’s example, is for God’s will to be done here on earth as it is in Heaven (Matthew 6:10). But why does it seem to be so difficult to know God’s will in the specific sense? All throughout the Scriptures, a great myriad of characters—both admirable and decidedly less so—ask God for things, and God answers. Jesus himself pleaded with his disciples to understand God not as uncaring or aloof, but as a loving father eager to provide for his kids. Complicated though it may be, we can wrap our heads around the idea of asking God for things.

Fasting on the other hand, we understand a bit less. In one sense, fasting is a means by which the disciple of Jesus prays with their entire body. After all, you are not simply a spirit in a body; you are a spirit and a body. The discipline of fasting draws our attention to both our spiritual and our physical being. In fasting, the great hunger of the heart and mind for answered prayer permeates the body itself.

We believe that God is responsive—he actually acts differently than he would based on the actions and prayers of his people. Certainly, fasting is not a manipulative device by which the fasting person assumes he or she can pressure God into doing something he or she wants. Fasting is not a way we jump ahead in the journey of prayer, but the way we pray and how we do it matters. Fasting is one important method of engaging your entire person (not just your mind) in prayer. Fasting fosters an internal intimacy, a quiet space, in which God’s voice has more room. God is relational. Like any other intimate relationship, we hear one another better when we focus our entire person on the other. Fasting is not a hunger strike, but it is a way of expressing to God our hunger for him to move in our life.

READ OVER THIS COMING WEEK’S PRACTICE AS A GROUP (15 MINUTES)

Here’s the Practice for tonight and this coming week: There are 5 types of prayer for which fasting is a naturally ally: to repent, to grieve, to cry out in crisis, to change God’s mind, and to know God’s heart. As you fast and pray this week, consider leaning into one of those five areas, following the prompts below. 

  • First, mark out a period of time this week to fast. We recommend that your HomeChurch fasts together starting on the night you meet and goes through lunch the next day – somewhere between 12 and 24 hours – but it’s up to you.  See inourtime.co to sign up for particular weeks.

  • In which area do you want to hear God or be heard by God this week? Perhaps it’s one of the five categories:

    • To repent: Is there something from which you need to repent? Is there a sin in your life in need of contemplation and forgiveness?
    • To grieve: Is there something you need to grieve? Have you experienced a loss that you need to hold before the Lord in prayer and fasting, grieving with God’s Spirit? This can be something in your immediate life – such as a loved one, a job, a relationship, or a failed plan you once held close – or something outside of your own situation – such as a natural disaster, a school shooting, war, racism, global violence against women, or some other current event.
    • To cry out in crisis: Are you in or on the brink of a crisis and need God’s intervention? 
    • To change God’s mind in a situation: Is there an area of your life in which you want to see reality change? Do you need to wrestle with God about something in your life?
    • To know God’s mind in a decision: Is there an area of confusion in your life about which you’d like to hear God’s thoughts? Are you in the midst of making a big decision and desperately need to hear what God’s wants to happen?
  • As you fast, allow the hunger you feel to prompt you towards prayer. Use the time you would normally eat in communion with God, engaging one of the above conversations with him.
  • Sometimes God speaks to us in the midst of our fast. Make sure that, whether you were certain it was God or not, you write down what you hear. Spend time reflecting on these things:
    • Is what I heard something I find in the Bible? Does it contradict something in the Bible? (Note: God will never say something to you that contradicts what he has already spoken in the Bible.)
    • Invite someone(s) from your HomeChurch to pray with you about what you’ve heard and to help you discern its source.
    • If I feel that God has or has not spoken, how will I respond? What are my next steps? Do I need to make fasting more of a habit in my life? Or is there another direction in which I’m being led to take action?

  • Come together as a HomeChurch next week to talk about your experience and pray together. If someone in your HomeChurch heard God say something significant, spend time praying with them about what they’ve heard, thanking God for speaking and asking him what next next steps she/he/you all should take.

WORK THROUGH THESE DISCUSSION QUESTIONS (10-15 MINUTES) 

  1. Has your view of fasting shifted over the last few weeks?
  2. What is an area of your life in which you would love to discern God’s will? 
  3. Is it easy for you to hear God’s voice?
  4. Does anyone have any encouraging story about fasting and discernment from their own life?

WITHWARD: praying for others

If you’re not eating this evening, you will have more time to pray. Take as long as you want. You might start by reading a Psalm together and then spend some time asking Jesus to turn your affections to him. The following are a few optional prompts that you can use to fill the prayer time. These can be prayed through as a large group or in smaller groups. But if you’d rather skip them and pray as a HomeChurch into other things, go ahead and do that.

  • If there is anyone for whom God seems distant (whether his voice or his ear), spend time praying over them and asking God to allow his presence to be near and perceptible as they fast. Declare over them God’s delight in speaking to and hearing us, his children. Ask God to silence every voice that isn’t the Spirit and to amplify and clarify the Spirit’s own voice. 
  •  Ask God to bring to each person’s mind an area in which he wants to speak into her/his life or be heard by them this week. Spend some time in silence, allowing the Spirit to speak. 
  • If people feel comfortable, share the areas that the Spirit is revealing and spend time praying over each person asking God to reveal his will in these areas this week. 

For most of us, fasting is new and complicated. That’s okay! No one—least of all God—expects you to be an expert, already fluent in the art of fasting. Close in prayer by inviting Jesus to teach you, remembering the Father’s loving patience, and by thanking God in advance for the ways in which he will hear us and be heard by us this week.




RESOURCE: PATH COMMUNITY GUIDE

The goal for a Path Community is to gather regularly with 3-5 people of the same gender, to press in together as disciples of Jesus, and to practice the most neglected commands, disciplines, and practices of the Christian life on off HomeChurch weeks or in the everyday rhythms of life.

We don’t want to be people who just hear the Word without putting it into practice, allowing deception
into our lives. We believe the following 4 practices with a few friends, often overlooked, can produce disproportionate spiritual fruit for the time and context in which we are called to follow Jesus.


RESOURCE: EXTENDED COMMUNION LITURGY

R1
We come to celebrate who you are, to acknowledge your greatness, and thank you for your love.

R2
Come to the table, not because you must, but because you may. Come to testify, not that you are righteous, but that you sincerely love our Lord Jesus Christ and desire to be his true disciple. Come not because you are strong, but because you are weak and that you stand in constant need of God’s mercy and help. Come not to express an opinion, but to seek God’s presence and pray for the Spirit.

R1
Hear the words of CONFESSION

“Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have “mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your name. Amen.”

R2
words of ASSURANCE:

If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us all our sins through our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen us in all goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep us in eternal life. Amen.”

R1

Therefore we proclaim our faith

Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.

R2

We pray in the name of Jesus, who taught us to pray,

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one”

Hear the words of our Lord Jesus Christ as they are delivered by the apostle Paul: “For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’

Let us eat

In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ 

Let us drink

For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”

R2
May we, throughout our week remember Jesus Christ – given for the complete forgiveness of all our sins. May we Remember his presence with us. May we Remember his blessing upon us all.