The Empowering Presence: Where We Come From (Week of 09.23.18)
By: Reality SF
Facilitator’s Note: This is the first in our new series about the Holy Spirit called “The Empowering Presence.” Material in this series aims to bring us into communal interaction with the Holy Spirit through prayer, as well as active faith in the Spirit through obedience.
Opening Prayer and Silence
Invite one person to open the group in prayer, and then sit in 5 minutes of silent gratitude with Jesus.
If you live in this last Sunday’s spotlighted neighborhood, please consider going on a quick, 10-minute prayer walk in your neighborhood. Listen for the Spirit’s guidance and intercede in agreement for your community.
Understanding who the Holy Spirit is and how He interacts with His people is sometimes a place of division in the Church. Different denominations position in different ways about who the Spirit is, His role in the founding of the Church, and how He’s at work today. As a church, we are committed to letting Ephesians 4:2-6 guide how we interact with the Spirit and one another:
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:2-6).
In light of this, here is an exercise to help us in understanding our spiritual backgrounds as a group. Slowly read through the statements below as a group. Anyone who identifies with a statement should raise their hand. Group members can silently look around to understand the rest of the group’s background. This exercise will require a level of courage and trust on the part of individuals as well as a spirit of humility, openness, respect, and curiosity in the group as a whole. Keep the conversation to a minimum until the end of the exercise, but remember the thoughts, feelings, and questions you’re having for the follow-up conversation.
Have one person reach each statement slowly. Then, anyone who agrees or identifies with each statement can raise a hand.
- I grew up in the Church.
- I grew up in a church that celebrated the presence of the Holy Spirit.
- I grew up in a church that seemed to emphasize other aspects of Christianity over the Holy Spirit.
- I didn’t grow up in the Church.
- I have regularly attended churches that might be considered charismatic (meaning, believing in and practicing powerful manifestations of the Spirit such as tongues and prophecy).
- I have regularly attended churches that might be considered cessationist (meaning, believing that the Holy Spirit’s miraculous manifestations were only for the Early Church and therefore don’t continue today).
- I feel excited about the Holy Spirit.
- I feel cautious about the Holy Spirit.
- I feel confused about the Holy Spirit.
- In my personal devotional life, I emphasize interaction with the Holy Spirit.
- I have heard stories of miraculous works of the Spirit, and I believe these stories.
- I have heard stories of miraculous works of the Spirit, and I find these stories hard to believe.
- I think that people have used the Holy Spirit to justify negative human actions.
- I question how Biblical it is to believe that the Spirit is miraculously active today.
- I like to listen for impressions from the Spirit and seek to obey them.
- I have personally witnessed miraculous works of the Spirit (tongues, healing, prophecy, etc.).
- I have prayed in tongues.
- I have offered prophetic words to people which I believe the Holy Spirit gave me to share.
- I can identify the fruits of the Spirit in my life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
- I am afraid of what people might think of me due to what I think about the Holy Spirit.
- I am afraid of what people might think of me and what I think about the Holy Spirit because I’m skeptical.
- I am afraid of what people might think of me and what I think about the Holy Spirit because I believe the miraculous happens today.
- I am afraid of what people might think of me and what I think about the Holy Spirit because I feel new to this and feel confused.
- I am prone to become judgmental toward people who believe differently from what I believe about the Spirit.
- I want Christian unity in the Spirit.
- I trust that the Spirit has been at work in my life.
- I trust that the Spirit has been at work in each person around me now.
- I believe I possess an important piece of the puzzle for experiencing a Biblical, personal reality with the Spirit.
- I believe others possess an important piece of the puzzle for experiencing a Biblical, personal reality with the Spirit.
- I am open to being surprised by the Holy Spirit.
- How did you experience this time of seeing where others are coming from? When did you feel most vulnerable? When most fascinated?
- What does it look like for your group to value each other’s background with the Holy Spirit?
- Why were the disciples grieving Jesus’ absence? If you were to live with Jesus in person for 3 years, why would you be filled with grief at Jesus’ departure? What would you miss?
- According to Jesus, it’s better that He go so the the Advocate (Holy Spirit) can come in His place. Why do you think this is so?
- How does Jesus describe the Holy Spirit? How are Jesus and the Holy Spirit connected to one another?
- What does it mean that the Holy Spirit is the “Spirit of truth,” and what does this reveal about the character of God?