Interactions: Community - Building Relationships Within God's Family (Interactions Small Group Series)
Reap the rewards of close bonds with others.All of us hunger for genuine community--for meaningful relationships in our lives. Without community, we wither inside. Deep, transparent relationships help us grow into all God created us to be. In Community, you'll...
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Reap the rewards of close bonds with others.All of us hunger for genuine community--for meaningful relationships in our lives. Without community, we wither inside. Deep, transparent relationships help us grow into all God created us to be. In Community, you'll learn how you can forge strong, meaningful ties with others and with God. You'll find out how to move beyond superficial relationships and build lasting friendships. You'll learn how to debug common, harmful relational "viruses" in yourself and set healthy boundaries that will protect you from the viruses of others. Finally, you'll discover the importance of extending community to those who haven't experienced God's love for them. Discover a richer depth in your relationships. Community will help you build friendship, marriage, and family bonds that are satisfying and lasting.Interactions--a powerful and challenging tool for building deep relationships between you and your group members, and you and God. Interactions is far more
CommunityCopyright 1998 by Willow Creek AssociationRequests for information should be addressed to:Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530ISBN-10: 0-310-26591-6ISBN-13: 978-0-310-26591-7All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible: New InternationalVersion. NIV. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission ofZondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, ortransmitted in any form or by any means-electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or anyother-except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher.Interior design by Rick Devon and Michelle EspinozaPrinted in the United States of America05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 /?DCI/ 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1S E S S I O N 1 C O M M U N I T YTHEHEARTBEATOFCOMMUNITYT H E B I G P I C T U R EChicago Tribune writer Marla Paul took a risk when she wrotea self-revealing column confessing her sadness and frustrationover her own inability to build and sustain friendships. Shewrote this column expecting little, if any, response. However,she was inundated with letters from others experiencing thesame kind of isolation and frustration.One person wrote, "I''ve often felt that I''m standing outsidelooking through the window of a party to which I was notinvited." What a vivid picture! Do you ever feel that way? Doyou ever have a sense of being on the outside looking in?Another woman wrote, "I have this fear of becoming a verylonely, old widow sitting around and listening to the clocktick." This fear, she says, just about paralyzes her life. It isprobably a well-founded fear, because she confessed in herletter that she has no sense of community. She has no family.She has no friendship or small group or church community ofwhich she''s a part. She feels that she''s going to die alone, andshe may be right.In the summer of ''95, many people died in Chicago''s heat wave.I was shocked to read that forty-one of them were buried in amass grave called "The Potter''s Field." Not a single personsurfaced to claim their bodies or grieve their passing. Fortyonepeople died alone.Marla Paul ended her column about loneliness with thesewords: "Sometimes it seems easier to just give up and acceptdisconnectedness as a dark and unshakable companion; but,that''s not the companion I want." She writes, "So I will persevere."She is going to keep longing, searching, trying, andhoping that someday she will be able to discover and developcommunity.A W I D E A N G L E V I E W1. Describe a time in your life when you experienced realcommunity and connectedness with other people.Where do you experience community now?A B I B L I C A L P O R T R A I TRead Genesis 2:15-25 2. What do you learn about loneliness and the humanneed for community from this passage?H A R P E N I N G T H E F O C U SRead Snapshot "Knowing and Being Known"3. What are some of the things that keep us from openingour hearts and lives on a deep level so we can be knownby others?4. Suppose you made this commitment: "I am going toopen my life in a way that allows others to know medeeply. I am going to find some people I will allow tosee my deepest joys, needs, struggles, and victories. Iam also going to invite them to open their hearts andlives to me on this same deep level."What are some of the possible risks you would be taking?What are some of the possible joys you might experience?KNOWING AND BEING KNOWNIf I were to catch you in a quiet and reflective mood, and if you were aware enough of the longings andyearnings of your heart, I think you would say, "I would love to know others deeply and be knownfully by them." In a moment of complete honesty, I think we would all love it if there were some peoplein our lives who trusted us enough to disclose the deep and tender parts of themselves. I think wewould love to be able to unlock some of the vaulted feelings we carry
Bill Hybels is the founding and senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois, one of the largest and most influential churches in North America, and the chairman of the board for Willow Creek Association. He convened The Global Leadership Summit in 1995, following a God-given prompting to help raise and develop the spiritual gift of leadership for the local church.
Both visionary and passionate about seeing every local church reach its full God-given potential, he speaks around the world on strategic issues related to leadership, evangelism, and church growth. An exceptional communicator, he is a best-selling author of more than 20 books on personal evangelism, marriage and especially on the subject of Christian leadership, including Just Walk Across the Room, Courageous Leadership and the newly released, The Power of a Whisper: Hearing God and Having the Guts to Respond.
Bill received a bachelor's degree in Biblical Studies and an honorary Doctorate of Divinity from Trinity College in Deerfield, IL. He and his wife, Lynne, have two adult children and one grandson.
Kevin G. Harney is the Teaching Pastor and Evangelism Champion at Faith Church in Dyer, Indiana and Central Wesleyan Church in Holland, MI. He is also on the Teaching Team of the campus ministry at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan. He is author of Leadership from the Inside Out: Examining the Inner Life of a Healthy Church Leader; Seismic Shifts, the little changes that make a BIG difference in your life; John: An Intimate Look at the Saviour; Ephesians: Bringing Heaven to Earth, and co-author of the Willow Creek Interactions series, the Willow Creek New Community series, the Old Testament Challenge series, and Finding a Church You Can Love and Loving the Church You've Found.
- Interactions... 7
- Introduction: Building Relationships Within
- God's Family... 9
- Session 1
- The Heartbeat Of Community... 1
- Session 2
- Counting The Cost Of Community...17
- Session 3
- Moving Beyond Superficiality...25
- Session 4
- Healing Relational Viruses...31
- Session 5
- Setting Healthy Relational
- Boundaries... 39
- Session 6
- Extending Community To Others... 47
- Leader's Notes...55
Community S E S S I O N 1 C O M M U N I T Y THE HEARTBEATOF COMMUNITY T H E B I G P I C T U R E Chicago Tribune writer Marla Paul took a risk when she wrote a self-revealing column confessing her sadness and frustration over her own inability to build and sustain friendships. She wrote this column expecting little, if any, response. However, she was inundated with letters from others experiencing the same kind of isolation and frustration. One person wrote, 'I've often felt that I'm standing outside looking through the window of a party to which I was not invited.' What a vivid picture! Do you ever feel that way? Do you ever have a sense of being on the outside looking in? Another woman wrote, 'I have this fear of becoming a very lonely, old widow sitting around and listening to the clock tick.' This fear, she says, just about paralyzes her life. It is probably a well-founded fear, because she confessed in her letter that she has no sense of community. She has no family. She has no friendship or small group or church community of which she's a part. She feels that she's going to die alone, and she may be right. In the summer of '95, many people died in Chicago's heat wave. I was shocked to read that forty-one of them were buried in a mass grave called 'The Potter's Field.' Not a single person surfaced to claim their bodies or grieve their passing. Fortyone people died alone. Marla Paul ended her column about loneliness with these words: 'Sometimes it seems easier to just give up and accept disconnectedness as a dark and unshakable companion; but, that's not the companion I want.' She writes, 'So I will persevere.' She is going to keep longing, searching, trying, and hoping that someday she will be able to discover and develop community. A W I D E A N G L E V I E W 1. Describe a time in your life when you experienced real community and connectedness with other people. Where do you experience community now? A B I B L I C A L P O R T R A I T Read Genesis 2:15--25 2. What do you learn about loneliness and the human need for community from this passage? H A R P E N I N G T H E F O C U S Read Snapshot 'Knowing and Being Known' 3. What are some of the things that keep us from opening our hearts and lives on a deep level so we can be known by others? 4. Suppose you made this commitment: 'I am going to open my life in a way that allows others to know me deeply. I am going to find some people I will allow to see my deepest joys, needs, struggles, and victories. I am also going to invite them to open their hearts and lives to me on this same deep level.' What are some of the possible risks you would be taking? What are some of the possible joys you might experience? KNOWING AND BEING KNOWN If I were to catch you in a quiet and reflective mood, and if you were aware enough of the longings and yearnings of your heart, I think you would say, 'I would love to know others deeply and be known fully by them.' In a moment of complete honesty, I think we would all love it if there were some people in our lives who trusted us enough to disclose the deep and tender parts of themselves. I think we would love to be able to unlock some of the vaulted feelings we carry to people who really cared. Most of us gravitate toward friendships, dating, marriage, golf leagues, racquetball clubs, or small groups because somewhere floating around within us is a yearning to know and be known by others. Read Snapshot 'Loving and Being Loved' 5. Who in your life has poured out consistent and deep levels of love on you, and how have they expressed this love? 6. Finish the statements below: * I experience love the most from others when they . . . * I am most comfortable expressing love by . . . * I find it hard to receive love from others because . . . LOVING AND BEING LOVED Another component in community is loving and being loved. Unless you are exchanging deeply committed levels of love with a few people, you will die slowly on the inside. This is precisely why so many people feel almost nothing at all. Through the whole course of their lives, they have never exchanged deep levels of love with anybody. It hasn't happened with their parents. It hasn't happened with a spouse. And sadly, it hasn't happened with friends. By this point in life they have become completely numb to the possibility that they might experience a passionate, loving relationship. This is not God's plan for us. He hungers for us to be loved and to give love to others. As a matter of fact, He wants this for us even more than we hunger for it ourselves. Read Snapshot 'Serving and Being Served' 7. How have you been served by others and how has their Christlike service helped to build community? 8. With whom would you want to move toward a deeper level of community? What act of service will you render to help develop a deeper relationship and sense of community? Read Snapshot 'Celebrating and Being Celebrated' CELEBRATING AND BEING CELEBRATED If you haven't had a good blush recently, read a short book in the Bible called Song of Songs. It's a record of a bride and a bridegroom writing poetic and romantic notes to each other. They are freely celebrating every conceivable aspect of each other's personalities, character, and physical characteristics. At one point the groom says, 'You have made my heart beat fast with a single glance from your eyes. How beautiful is your love, my bride. How much better it is than the finest of wines.' Near the end of the book they both agree that a loving community in the context of a marriage is just about as good as it gets. They refer to the wealth and fortunes of a hugely successful man they know, and they say to each other, 'We wouldn't think of trading what we have for all of his riches. We have community.' This couple enhanced their community and the quality of their relationship by creatively celebrating each other. They did what many of us fail to do. They noticed each other. They observed each other carefully. Then they decided to highlight what they found attractive and desirable and praiseworthy about each other and took the time to express it. We have the ability to delight each other's hearts when we celebrate one another. SERVING AND BEING SERVED Community is also about serving and being served. The single most stirring example of this is recorded in John 13. In this chapter Jesus takes the position of the lowest servant and washes the feet of His followers. He gives them a powerful example and then calls them to follow. Servanthood is at the very core of community. To sustain deep relationships over a long period of time, there must be humility and a willingness to serve each other. There also must be a willingness to be served. When Jesus took a towel and a bowl of water and washed the feet of His followers, He established once and for all the absolute centrality of serving for all who desire to live in community. 9. Take time as a group to celebrate each other. Have each member of your group ask one or two other members to finish this statement: If you were suddenly taken out of my life, I would miss your__________________. P U T T I N G Y O U R S E L F I N T H E P I C T U R E AN EXPRESSION OF THANKS If there is a person in your life who has freely poured out deep levels of love on you, take time in the coming weeks to express your thankfulness. Call them on the phone, write them a note, or take them out to lunch. Communicate how much their love means to you and how much you appreciate the community you have together. Take time to celebrate what they have meant and continue to mean in your life. A COMMITMENT T O CELEBRATION Make a list of three people who are not in your small group but who you want to celebrate and affirm. Use the same format as you used in question nine to let them know what you would miss about them if you were no longer in community.