Hi Small Group Leaders,
We want to care for you and invite you to participate in Real Change, a 6-week session that focuses on your spiritual well-being. We know that this is a season where you are doing life with your group members, and they are so blessed. We want to help fuel your tank! Please reach out to your Groups Coordinator for meeting details. Many of the campus sessions will commence at the end of September.
This week, we are going to be studying the parable that Jesus tells us about the 10 Virgins in Matthew 25. We’ll be looking at how we can live in anticipation of the coming of Christ in our daily lives. And how we can walk in both the grounding of Scripture and the power of the Spirit.
Praying for you,
Pastor Nithin ([email protected])
Pro Tip – Create a Safe Space for Sharing & Prayer Using These Ground Rules:
(As the leader, read the ground rules below with your group out loud and even put them in your zoom or google meet chat so that everyone can see them. Ask for agreement from all the group members before you start the conversation. As the group leader, you will have to enforce these guidelines gently. Remember that grace wins, and we want your group to be a safe place where people can share freely even if they don’t agree with one another at the end. Unity does not have to be uniformity. We recommend that you read these together and then PRAY before you begin! We all need more of the Spirit’s wisdom!)
- Recognize that all of us come from different backgrounds and perspectives. As a result, we all have good intentions but also blind spots. Just as Jesus does with us every day, we have to respect where people are and remember that we all are doing the best, we can give our current state of awareness. GRACE WINS!
- Speak only for yourself (“I feel…” “I think…”), not on behalf of your identity (“we feel…” “we are…”) or other identities (“they think…” “they act like…”).
- Listen to hear and understand, and not so that you can respond. Take the time to process what you’ve heard before responding.
- Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to help you avoid negative judgments, language, and name-calling.
- Be open to feeling uncomfortable – all growth comes with some discomfort.
- Understand that groups of a single race can have multiple perspectives, and even the most diverse groups will not all have the same perspectives.
- Stay engaged. It is often difficult once we feel frustrated or misunderstood, to withdraw and drop out of the conversation, but resist this urge. It will be worth it.
- Please don’t dominate the conversation, remember that everyone deserves a chance to speak and be heard. Don’t cut off, or talk over one another.
- Don’t expect a resolution, complete agreement, or definite answers. This is a discussion, not a debate.
What does the changeover to September look like for you? What do the changes to your schedules, hobbies, or activities look like during this time? What are you most looking forward to?
APPLY THE BIBLE
 We missed you, and we missed meeting together! As we are entering into the Fall, what are some of the challenges and struggles that you are encountering in your life or observing in the lives of others? Use this question as a way to check in with your group. Help them share struggles, whether going back to school, work, and sharing frustrations about how things may or may not be opening up fast enough. As a group leader, you have the opportunity to create a safe environment so that you can have a good and honest discussion.
Pro-Tip- If your group is still meeting on zoom and are able, have everyone unmute themselves to freely talk. You may accidentally talk over one another, but give grace to one another when that happens.
 Read Matthew 25: 1-13. This parable is the first of a series of parables that Jesus is telling about the end of days. Discuss this passage within your group.
Share with your group that there is a double meaning in this passage. On the one hand, Jesus is the Bridegroom coming to gather His bride. In the first century, this is what Jesus was doing. During this time in the first century, Jesus had come to gather His people of Israel, but they were NOT ready. In many ways, Jesus tells this story to show Israel that their foolishness would keep them from experiencing the celebration of Jesus coming to earth. The second meaning is what we’ll be looking at today, is that Jesus will come back again and how we can be ready for it.
 How do you respond to Jesus’ return? Does it excite you? Does it cause you anxiety? Why does Jesus use a wedding as an analogy for his return? Share with your group. Some people are excited about Jesus coming back. Some in your group may have done a detailed study on Bible prophecy and have a chart on when each event happens and how it all comes about. Others in your group may feel afraid. Share with your group that the return of Christ isn’t something to be fearful of, but something that will bring us joy. Weddings are a joyous occasion, not somber or terrifying. For Christians, Jesus’ return will be a celebration. While we don’t know all the details of how it will come about, it is something that we should welcome!
 What does it mean to ‘fall asleep” in this parable? Where have you fallen asleep and are in need to be awoken? When we are asleep, we don’t even know that we are sleeping. There are several examples that we have fallen asleep. When we’ve tolerated or made peace with sin in our lives when we’ve tolerated social evils, moral compromises, and injustice. As Christians, sometimes we fall asleep, and we are in need of a wakeup call. In our current digital world, falling asleep may look like numbness or even being paralyzed when we are bombarded continuously on our screens.
Pro-Tip: After you ask this question. Tell your group that you will pause for 1-2 minutes to ask God where you’ve fallen asleep. This is a way for your group to be reflective when answering the question.
 In the story, we see that the lamp represents God’s Word and the oil His Spirit. How do you think God’s Word and His Holy Spirit work together? The Holy Spirit is part of the Trinity. It’s the part of God that fills us and empowers us to live a godly life. The Bible or the Word of God is God’s Truth for how to function in our world and in our life. We need the Scriptures to give us guidance and direction and the Holy Spirit illuminates God’s Truth for us to interact with.
Theologian and writer RT Kendall says, “In the church today, there’s been a Silent Divorce between the Word & the Spirit. When there’s a divorce, sometimes the children stay with the Mother. Sometimes they stay with the Father.” Some Christians say that the problem is that we aren’t grounded in Scripture enough. The other side says we need more power and revelation for His name to be made known.
 In the spectrum between the Word and the Spirit, where do you naturally gravitate? How can you make sure that you are firm in both the Word and the Spirit? There may be some in your group that are more WORD focused and may think that the problem is that we, the Church, are not biblical enough, and that is why everything is falling apart. The other side may say that we are not filled with the Spirit and are operating out of fear. This is a false dichotomy that needs to be erased.
The Truth is that we are called to be people of both THE WORD & POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
The way for believers to stand on both is to remember that God’s Word is eternal, and we need to stay in constant connection to the Scriptures to grow and develop as followers of Jesus. But we also need the Holy Spirit who will lead us and guide us into all Truth. The Spirit will never contradict God’s Word. Both work hand in hand in our Christian walk.
For those in your group that naturally are more Word-centered, encourage them to try this week (see Deeper Walk) the practice Lectio Devina, or Sacred Reading as a way to not only read Scripture but pray it and invite the Holy Spirit into God’s Word.
For those in your group that naturally are more Spirit centered, encourage them to do a personal study through the book Why I’m Still Surprised by the Power of the Spirit by Jack Deere. In this book, he talks about how both the Spirit and the Word are meant to stick together.
Today it is common to navigate through incorrect information that sometimes is counted as factual. There are many conspiracy theories as well. As a culture, we’ve lost trust in institutions and authority figures. It can be easy to want to grasp on some new revelation or hidden conspiracy to explain everything away. However, God sometimes may not tell us what things are the way they are in the moment. Instead, He calls us to trust and obey Him and to persevere.
 How can God’s Word give us the confidence we need to combat false truth and misinformation? As Christians, we need to be on our guard against false truths and misinformation. Jesus calls us to be as wise as serpents but gentle as doves (Matthew 10:16). Right now, there is a lot of uncertainty in our world and a deep distrust of authorities. Be aware that your group may have very different views on a lot of things. But as a small group leader, your job isn’t to win an argument, but to point them to Jesus as He’s been revealed in the Scripture. The more you can remember that we are called to be people who are discerning the Truth, not just jumping into whatever conspiracy theory we find attractive to us or what supports our opinions in the first place.
 Read the following Scriptures. How do they help us discern the truth? Have different members of your group look up the Scriptures to share and discuss.
- James 1: 5 – If we need wisdom, we can ask God, who desires to give it to us.
- 1 John 4: 1 – Don’t just take something as face value, but test the source of the information.
- Romans 12:1 – Search for God’s Will in the information that we are receiving so that we can honor God and one another.
Discernment is a process, and it takes time, energy, and work. But if we love Truth, and we want to make sure that we are people of Truth who walk in the light of Christ, this means we need to take the due diligence to discern Truth in the midst of falsehood.
Based on your discussion above. Where are you in need of prayer? Remember that part of our Spiritual growth is sharing our burdens with one another. Take a moment to share your prayer requests to have the spiritual support you need to live for Jesus throughout the week.
Group Leaders: Send these options out after your group has met to continue to grow in their faith.
Select at least one activity below to complete during the next week.
Personal Action: Carve out 30 minutes in your week to journal this question: Where have I fallen asleep?
Mentoring: Christians are called to live with the expectation that Jesus is coming back at any moment. Are there older Christians in your life that you can ask how they have been able to live with that expectation on a regular basis.
Conversation: Make time this week to talk with a trusted friend to share where you’ve been asleep and to help you wake up.
Memorization: “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” – Psalm 119:105
Pray: Lord, wake me up from my slumber so that I can live in expectation for you.
Study: Read Why I’m Still Surprised by the Power of the Spirit by Jack Deere. Or learn and practice Lectio Devina this week.