Community Group Questions 10/7/12

Tip of the Week:
[vimeo http://vimeo.com/40181395]
Announcements:
Please share whichever of the following announcements apply to your group
  • Baptism Class
    • If you are interested in taking the step of Baptism, we are having a class for you to learn more about that on Thursday 10/11 at 7pm in the MP Room
    • If you are interested in attending the class, just write “Baptism” on the back of your connection card
  • WPWM/WOF
    • We are very excited that our Women’s Ministry is starting back up
    • They will be doing a 6 week study starting on 10/10 - that’s Wednesdays at 10am
    • Childcare is available for a small fee
    • The will be studying - read slide
    • Don’t forget that we have a few WOF tickets left - There is a table in the back with more info on purchasing tickets for that event
  • Kids Ministry Expansion Update

Sermon Title: Finding Your Sea Legs, Part 2: Long John Silver

Topics:

  • Long John Silver was a crafty leader. He got innocent Jim Hawkins to trust him. Jim thought he was one of the good guys, but he turned out to be a cunning pirate. Then Long John Silver used Hawkins for his own selfish gain. Unfortunately, this doesn’t just happen in adventure movies. This happens in our lives.
  • If you are a Christian for any length of time, at some point a Christian leader you look up to will fail you. This can be one of the toughest challenges a Christian will face. And many do not survive this challenge. We get washed overboard in a tsunami of doubt and skepticism. We can become jaded and start doubting everything. We struggle to trust leaders again. How do we possibly survive this?
  • In his training letter to Pastor Titus, Paul instructs him to appoint leaders, called elders or overseers, at each local church in the towns of Crete.
  • He gives him specific qualifications that these men should have. And each of these qualifications are based on character and spiritual maturity. That they are wise and seasoned in their journey of following Jesus. Here are the qualifications:
  • above reproach
    • a one-woman man
    • children are believers, not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination
    • not arrogant
    • not quick tempered
    • not a drunkard
    • not violent
    • not greedy for gain
    • hospitable
    • a lover of good
    • self-controlled
    • upright
    • holy
    • disciplined
    • holds fast to the word as taught
    • he may be able to give instruction
    • rebuke those who contradict it
  • That is a pretty intimidating list. A hard one to live up to. But these are the qualifications God has set. Notice it is not based on longevity of being at the church, how connected they are at the church, how much someone serves or gives, how successful they are.  It is based on character and maturity.
  • But here’s the problem. If we are going on this adventure as a Christian, at some point we will have a leader fail us. It can be in minor ways or major ways. Sometimes we are so let down, simply because get our feelings hurt. Sometimes the person has a major failure. Maybe we will find out that they are:
    • Arrogant - they are not the humble selfless servant of a leader that Jesus calls them to be. They are in the position for their own prestige and recognition.
    • Quick Tempered - they were quick to cut people down, and hurt people. They couldn’t be questioned, or held accountable. It was their way, or you got their wrath.
    • Greedy for Gain - they cannot resist financial temptation, and they give in to greed. It begins to corrupt their financial practices.
    • Not a One-Woman-Man - perhaps they fall into the snare of sexual scandal. Perhaps it is pornography or an affair.
  • When this happens, it is simply devastating. We who trusted them, believed in them, followed them, learned from them are demoralized. Those are stormy times, where we are tempted to question everything:
    • Is everything else they said a lie?
    • Was I stupid for not seeing it and following them?
    • Is it all a sham?
    • Should I be believing this at all?
  • We are also questioned by the world. It seems to tarnish the name of Jesus. It gets reported in the news and broadcasted widely. Nonbelieving friends and relatives use it to question the legitimacy of what we believe. Which is salt on our wounded hearts, because we are already sorting through our doubts.
  • There are varying ways people respond:
    • some abandon ship - they leave the faith. Or never take the leap to begin with because of what they’ve seen.
    • some become marooned - they try to keep the faith, but leave the church. They wither away outside of community
    • some become peg legged - they always walk with a noticeable limp for the rest of their lives. They remain a seafarer, but are never again as effective. They become untrusting and jaded and keep their distance.
    • But some survive and become strong because of it.
  • How do we survive? ...one verse in this section makes or breaks it. In verse 7, Paul says, “an overseer, as God’s steward...” It all depends on how we see the overseer. Are they the ruler or the steward. A steward is simply a manager for the owner. The steward has leadership responsibility and genuine authority, but they are not the ultimate leader.
  • The Bible is specific that the leaders of the church are MERELY stewards. They are not the owners, they are not the rulers.
    • Ephesians 4:15 says that Jesus is the head of the church.
    • 1 Peter 5:4 says that Jesus is the chief shepherd.
  • Do we expect the leaders of the church to be sinless? They are not. We are a church of broken people. God has put leaders in charge, who are called to be mature and godly, but they are broken. We are broken people, who come around a perfect Jesus.
  • A church is about ONE person, Jesus. When we leave church on Sunday we should be thinking more about Jesus than about the quality of the music, the sermon, the church service.
  • Sometimes we come to church and we put particular leaders on pedestals that are too high. When we do that, we don’t recover when they fail.
  • When a leader fails us, we have to go back to the Gospel:
    • The Gospel is not that we live perfectly by a moral code
    • The Gospel is that we are broken and NEED Jesus
    • We don’t ever stop needing Jesus.
    • Hopefully as a church we demonstrate to each other and the world, how depending on Jesus propels us to become more like Him.
    • But when it doesn’t, it just displays our need for Jesus.
  • So what do we do when we discover we have a Long John Silver in our lives?
    • Gospel. Go to the Gospel. Let it remind you of the truth. How much all of us, you included, need Jesus.
    • Pray. Pray for your leaders. Please, please pray for the elders, pastors, and staff. That by God’s grace, He may spare us from that.
    • Forgive. The greatest barrier to forgiveness is self-righteousness, thinking we are better than them. And that is also the first step to falling into the same trap.
    • Reconcile. If needed go to the person and reconcile what happened. Forgive if appropriate and ask for forgiveness if appropriate.
  • Has a Long John Silver caused you to abandon ship, marooned you, or left you peg-legged? Good thing, he’s not the captain. And good thing, the captain is Jesus Christ the Righteous (1 John 2:2).

Key Questions:

  1. Who is your favorite pirate in the movies?
  2. Read the qualifications of Titus 1:5-9. What do you think has tripped up Christian leaders the most?
  3. Without naming names, can anyone share about a Long John Silver they have been exposed to? (up close or from afar)
  4. What are the emotions we feel when a Christian leader fails us?
  5. How can this affect how we follow God’s leaders in the future?
  6. What is the difference between these two types of authorities: an owner and a steward?
  7. Paul clarifies that the overseers of a church are stewards. What does it look like when they are made to be more than that?
  8. If a fallen Christian makes us question our faith, what are we misunderstanding about the Gospel?
    1. [the Gospel is not about living perfect lives to be saved. The Gospel saves us by grace because we cannot save ourselves.]
  9. How does the failure of a Christian, actually point back to the Gospel?
    1. [because the Gospel is about how desperately we need Jesus, not about how perfect we are]
  10. What is a good response to a non-Christian when they ask you about a prominent leader who has been exposed in a scandal?
  11. What are some things we can do to heal when we’ve been let down by a Christian leader?
  12. GROUP LEADERS - Consider splitting up as men and women and ask this question: what of these qualifications do you most want to ask God’s help fighting against?

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