It was a real pleasure for me to speak this past weekend in the worship services at Elmbrook Church as part of their series “Greatest Hits.” Not only is my good friend, Jason Webb, the Senior Pastor there, but my first ministry position in Wisconsin was as the Pastor of Collegiate Ministries at Elmbrook (2003-2008). That seems like a lifetime ago. I am always so grateful for the many people from that community who have poured into me and my family over the years. If interested, you can watch a video of the message below, as well as access the sermon outline and discussion questions.
This past weekend we concluded the “One Church” series here at Eastbrook Church. It was such a joy for me to have some good friends share the Scripture with us during these past weeks. The irony of this series is that originally it was not planned to theme around unity in God’s people, but slowly morphed into that theme as each of the pastors shared what they were going to speak about. I really sensed the Holy Spirit moving in our midst as each week, one of these outstanding pastors shared with us from the Scripture.
Here are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Prayer as the Pathway to Unity” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church. This is the fourth part of our series, “One Church.” This week we looked at John 17:20-26.
- What do you think are the greatest hindrances to unity, no matter the setting?
- This weekend in our series, “One Church,” we are exploring John 17, with specific attention on verses 20-26. Take some time to pray, asking God to clearly speak to you; then read John 17 aloud.
- John 17 is sometimes called Jesus’ high priestly prayer. This is because we find Jesus directly talking with His Father in prayer about the heart of His ministry right before going to the sacrifice upon the Cross. What are some of the main things Jesus prays about in John 17?
- There are three major sections in Jesus’ prayer here: 1) Jesus’ prayer for true glory; 2) Jesus’ prayer for His disciples; and 3) Jesus’ prayer for future believers. When you consider Jesus’ prayer for the believers in the future – which includes us today – what does this make you think about or feel?
- Themes of unity abound in these few sentences of prayer. In verses 21 and 23 what would you say is the fundamental unity Jesus says is the basis for unity amongst believers? Why is this significant?
- What do you think Jesus means by saying, “I have given them the glory that you gave me” (17:22)? What sort of glory do we receive as disciples of Jesus?
- In verses 21 and 23, what Jesus says there will be certain results – or aftereffects – of believers entering into the unity Jesus prays about. What are those results?
- Have you ever experienced disunity in God’s people? Have you seen it impact the effectiveness or fruitfulness of God’s mission in the world? What happened? If applicable, how was this disunity resolved?
- What is one way in which you feel specifically impressed to pray for unity in your own life or the life of the church? If you are with a small group, discuss that with one another and pray about these things together. If you are studying on your own, write it down, pray about it, and share this with someone.
It is great to talk about unity but how do we really achieve it?
This past weekend at Eastbrook Church I continued our “One Church” series by exploring that question through Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John 17. In my message this weekend, “Prayer as the Pathway to Unity,” I specifically looked at John 17:20-26, where Jesus prays for the future believers, like us, to be one. My main point is that prayer is the pathway to unity and without prayer we will not achieve unity as believers.
You can view a video of the message and the accompanying outline below. You can listen to the message via our audio podcast here.
Jesus said, “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you” (John 17:20-21). Recently, we began a new series at Eastbrook entitled “One Church.” This series is an invitation to celebrate unity in Jesus Christ as pastors from around the area share God’s word of God with us centered on themes of unity.
July 4/5 – “Maintaining the Unity of the Church” by Pastor Elie Hasbani of Ethnos Church
July 11/12 – “Jumping the Broom” by Bishop Walter Harvey of Parklawn Assembly of God
July 18/19 – “Conflict: The Cause. The Cure” by Pastor Jason Webb of Elmbrook Church
July 25/26 – “Prayer as the Pathway to Unity” by Pastor Erickson of Eastbrook Church
August 1/2 – “Unity Worth Fighting For” by Pastor Jim Caler of Eastbrook Church