A note about these questions
Below is the latest set of Life Group discussion questions. Their goal is to guide you into level-three conversation by using the latest sermon, “The Fullness of Christ in the Details of Life.” The sermon serves as a starting place for honest dialogue about our faith in the gospel amid the complexities of life. In case you missed the sermon, I’ve tried to provide enough content to get everyone on the same page. As you’ll see, they are set up in clusters. The questions are subdivided by letters, each as a follow up to the one before it, moving from theoretical to practical.
I’ve worked with Pastor David to arrange the questions this week. He sent me a handful of points that he thought would aid discussion. Feel free to throw in any extra questions that come to mind, or skip what seems out of place. The plan for these questions is that they help guide your time together, not consume the entire thing. So I encourage you to use the questions as they are helpful, and then fill in the rest.
Pastor David began Sunday’s sermon by talking about emptiness. He said,
One of our common emotional experiences as humans is the feeling of emptiness. No matter how rich or poor, how heathy or sick, whether in success or in failure, we all have tasted the feeling of emptiness. We wouldn’t all describe it the same terms, but we have felt that internal emotional sense of emptiness or inadequacy — that haunting, gnawing ache that I’m not what I should be, or that some highly anticipated experience didn’t live up to its billing.
It is as if we all know we were made to be filled by something. That’s the meaning of empty: containing nothing when you would expect it to contain something — like an empty glass, an empty parking lot, an empty stadium, an empty house, or an empty heart.
A: What has been your experience with this feeling of emptiness? Has there been a time in your life when you felt empty? What did God do through that experience?
Emptiness, as Pastor David mentioned, isn’t confined only to non-Christians. It’s a universal human experience. At different times — for different reasons and in different ways — we all can feel empty.
B: How, specifically, does the gospel speak into the experience of emptiness? What does the gospel promise us?
C: Think about some of your non-Christian friends and neighbors. How would you explain to them the gospel’s promise for those who feel empty?
The apostle Paul had a ministry team. There was a group of people working together, each pulling in the same direction. All of us, in one sense, are on some kind of team. It could be a strategic subcommittee at work, or a group of friends working on a project, or simply your marriage. One way or another, we all are working together with someone.
Well, Pastor David pointed out that the apostle Paul commended his teammates. It was Paul’s custom not just to mention his partners in ministry, but to support them with his words.
Pastor David explained,
Essential to a healthy team is meaningful commendation — not flattery, or unconvincing, not-over-the-top praise, but true, believable, specific, and meaningful commendation.
A: Can you recall a particular instance when someone commended you? You don’t have to tell us what they said, but how did it make you feel? What kind of effect did the commendation have on you?
B: Now, consider once again the teams you’re on — whether work, or friends, or marriage, or slow-pitch softball. Do you think anyone on your team could recall an experience of when you commended them? Describe simply what it was like. What did you say? Why did you say it?
C: Why do you think it is so difficult to commend one another? What obstacles stand in our way? What are some other verses in the Bible that encourage us to speak words of grace?
The apostle Paul exhorted Archippus to “fulfill his ministry,” which implies that Archippus must have encountered some obstacles along the way. Paul is telling him to stick to it, in other words. Pastor David explains,
When Christ gives us a particular ministry to fulfill [which could be any particular calling, including work responsibilities or even family], he emphatically does not promise that it will come easy. In fact, it is often precisely the opposite. . . .
Any ministry truly received from the nail-scarred hands of Christ will not be easy every step of the way. Every work in him worth doing in a fallen and sin-sick world, where the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, will encounter difficulties. . . .
With resistance like this, though, Paul doesn’t encourage Archippus to seek out greener pastures, to actualize his ministry self in something easier and more “life-giving.” Yes, a time may come to transition, when his particular ministry expression has been completed, when a new specific calling has been plainly revealed. But Archippus is not there yet. For now, he needs encouragement not to find something else, but to stick it out when it’s tough. The breakthrough will come not in retreat, but in enduring under trial. It may even be that the increased obstacles and barriers signal that the breakthrough is near at hand. Every ministry worth doing will have its drags, discouragements, and temptations to jump ship before it’s time.
So this charge to Archippus at the end of Colossians is a word we all need in whatever calling we have received from God. Whatever specific role, big or small, we have from the risen Christ, for the meeting of genuine needs for the advance of his kingdom, will encounter obstacles, and the day will come, if it’s not already today, when we need to hear the clear apostolic charge to stick with it. Stay with something for the long haul, leaning on Christ, rather than fly the coup when it gets tough.
A: What is the biggest obstacle you are facing in life right now? What calling(s) does it relate to, and how might God be at work in your enduring?
B: How will you go about enduring in the face of resistance? How can your Life Group support you in the midst of your endurance?