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5 Must-Read Statements on the Church

Given my recent sermon, “Connecting Together,” on what it means to be the church, I wanted to share again some thoughts from one of my favorite thinkers on the church, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. His book Life Together is, in my opinion, the best book written on the nature of true community in the church. Here are 5 must-read statements on  the Church from Bonhoeffer:

  • “Just as surely as God desires to lead us to a knowledge of genuine Christian fellowship, so surely must we be overwhelmed by a great disillusionment with others, with Christians in general, and, if we are fortunate, with ourselves. By sheer grace, God will not permit us to live even for a brief period in a dream world.” [26-27]
  • “Every human wish dream that is injected into the Christian community is a hindrance to genuine community and must be banished if genuine community is to survive. He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial.” [27]
  • “Thus the very hour of disillusionment with my brother becomes incomparably salutary, because it so thoroughly teaches me that neither of us can live by our own words and deeds, but only by that one Word and Deed which really binds us together – the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ.” [28]
  • “If we do not give thanks daily for the Christian fellowship in which we have been placed, even where there is not great experience, not discoverable riches, but much weakness, small faith, and difficulty; if on the contrary, we only keep complaining to God that everything is so paltry and petty, so far from what we expected, then we hinder God from letting our fellowship grow according to the measure and riches which are there for us all in Jesus Christ.” [29]
  • “A pastor should not complain about his congregation, certainly never to other people, but also not to God. A congregation has not been entrusted to him in order that he should become its accuser before God and men….Let him pray God for an understanding of his own failure and his particular sin, and pray that he may not wrong his brethren. Let him, in consciousness of his own guilt, make intercession for his brethren.” [29-30]

[These quotations are taken from John W. Doberstein's classic translation of Life Together. A more recent translation with thorough annotations and a helpful introduction is found in Volume 5 of Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works.]

 

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Connecting Together (discussion questions)

Here are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Connecting Together,” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church. This was the second part of our series “Together” on what it means to be the church.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How would you define the church in your own words?
  2. We continue our series “Together” this week by looking at what it means to be the church relationally. This week, we will spend time primarily in Acts 2:1-47 and Colossians 3:12-17. Stop to ask God to speak to you. Then, read Acts 2 and Colossians 3:12-17 aloud.
  3. Peter’s first sermon in the book of Acts is followed by a dramatic response from his hearers. How would you describe the response to Peter’s sermon initially (verse 38-41) and in the days following (verses 42-47)?
  4. The church is not something created by human beings. Based on what you see here, as well as what you know from other portions of Scripture, what would you say is the source of the church?
  5. What do you think that the everyday life of the early church looked like? How does our life as a church look similar or different today? What does that make you think about?
  6. Last week, we looked at Ephesians 2 and the vastly different people who were brought together in the church. In Colossians 3:12-17, Paul exhorts these vastly different people to live together in some very specific ways. Which of Paul’s exhortations jumps out most to you? Why?
  7. How might you grow in grace as a member of Christ’s church based on what you are encountering here in Colossians 3?
  8. What is one specific truth or point of application that God is speaking to you through this study, and how will you live that out this week? Write it down. If you are in a small group, share your thoughts with one another.
 
 

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Connecting Together

Connecting TogetherWhat does it mean to be God’s people? How should we relate with one another as the church?

My message this past weekend, “Connecting Together,” touches upon these questions. This is the second part of a four-part series at Eastbrook Church entitled “Together.”

The outline and video file for the message is below. You can listen to the message via our audio podcast here. You can access both messages from “Together” series here. You can also visit Eastbrook Church on VimeoFacebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

 

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Together in Jesus Christ (discussion questions)

Here are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Together in Jesus Christ,” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church. This was the first part of our series “Together” on what it means to be the church. This message was built out of Ephesians 2.

Discussion Questions:

1. When did you enter real, life-changing relationship with God through Jesus Christ? What happened? How did your life change?

2. This week we begin a four-week series entitled “Together” focused on what it means to be God’s people together. This week, we will spend time in Ephesians, chapter 2. Stop and ask God to speak to you. Next, read Ephesians 2 out loud.

3. The first ten verses of this chapter outline the basics of what salvation in Jesus Christ is all about. ‘Salvation’ is a churchy word that we don’t necessarily use a lot in our everyday lives. Ponder Paul’s words here and then put them into your own words. How would you describe what the message of Jesus is about as outlined in Ephesians 2:1-10?

4. Reflect for a moment on what this really means. Do you believe this truth or not? Do you order your life by this truth or not? If yes, then why? If no, then why not?

5. The next twelve verses focus more about the change of status and relationship that we experience because of what Jesus has done. Remember that the Hebrew Bible makes a distinction between Jews (that specific national-ethnic group called into relationship with God through His promises) and Gentiles (the non-Jewish nations). Paul is writing to a mostly Gentile audience in Ephesians. Why would Paul’s words here be significant to these readers?

6. What do you think it means that Jesus “himself is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14)? Why is this important?

7. The tabernacle—and, later, the temple—was the physical dwelling place of God in the Old Testament. How does Paul shift the idea of God’s dwelling place in verses 20-22? What is he really saying here? What might this mean for us today?

8. What is one specific truth or point of application that God is speaking to you through this study, and how will you live that out this week? Write it down. If you are in a small group, share your thoughts with one another.

 
 

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Together in Jesus Christ

Together in Christ
What is the center of the life of God’s people? What is it that really holds the church all together?

My message this past weekend, “Together in Jesus Christ,” addresses these very questions. This is the first of four weeks at Eastbrook Church in our series, “Together.”

The outline and video file for the message is below. You can listen to the message via our audio podcast here. You can access both messages from “Together” series here. You can also visit Eastbrook Church on VimeoFacebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

 

Read the rest of this entry »

 
 

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Together

Together series image

Beginning this weekend, August 2/3,  we start a new series at Eastbrook entitled “Together.” This series is an exploration of what it means to be God’s people in terms of our identity, relationships, and action. We are building the series off of the picture of the church seen in Acts and the letters of the New Testament. In part, this is a series about discipleship and spiritual formation asking questions about what has Jesus done for us and what does that mean? In another way, this series is about community and our theological understanding of what it means to be God’s new community through Jesus Christ. The outline of the series is as follows:

August 2/3 – “Together in Jesus Christ”

August 9/10 – “Connecting Together”

August 16/17 – “Growing Together”

August 23/24 – “Serving Together”

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2014 in Communication, Eastbrook

 

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Sustaining the Good Life (discussion questions)

Here are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Sustaining the Good Life,” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church, the second part of our two-part series on Psalm 23 entitled “The Good Life.” I am preaching from the English Standard Version during this series, so here is the text of Psalm 23 from the ESV:

1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What was one of your most challenging times in life? What did it feel like to endure it? How did you make it through that time?
  2. This week we continue our journey into “The Good Life” from Psalm 23. As we explore what it means to live a Psalm 23 type of life all the time, this week we look at the challenging times of life. Psalm 23 is built around two strong images: God as our shepherd (verses 1-4) and God as our host or friend (verses 5-6). We will bring those two images together in our study this week. Whether you are alone or with a small group, begin by asking God to speak to you and then read Psalm 23 aloud.
  3. Verse 4 highlights the reality that even though God is our shepherd, we will still face dangers and hardship. What is the source of hope for the psalmist in the midst of hardship?
  4. The shepherd’s rod was a club of sorts for fighting off enemies. The shepherd’s staff was used for keeping sheep on the path or prying them out of crags or holes. What might these metaphors convey about our life with God?
  5. To be in the presence of enemies usually means to be fear-filled and hasty, but verse 5 offers a quite different situation. What does this verse tell us about God’s presence and power as our friend in the face of enemies?
  6. What enemies are surrounding you right now? How might your perspective or approach be changed by the truths of verse 5?
  7. In verse 6 we encounter the unending commitment of God (“all the days of my life”) and the pursuing kindness of God (“shall follow me”). What hope do these words bring you about your daily life and eternal life?
  8. What is one specific truth or point of application that God is speaking to you through this study, and how will you live that out this week? Write it down. If you are in a small group, share your thoughts with one another.
 
 

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