Spiritual Leadership

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

The God-life is a journey, and we’re all traveling it together. Everyone needs spiritual leadership along the way. Are you seasoned in your relationship with God? Be a spiritual father for those following behind you.

1. Discussion 

1 John 3:1 [NIV] “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”

It’s God’s love as a Father that sets the example for us, and as the Holy Spirit changes us more and more into His image, we should live out that love as an example to those following us in this God-journey.

Q . Who in your life best exemplifies God’s love put into practice?

Q . What are some actions – visible in your life – that reflect God’s love to others? 

2. Challenge

2 Timothy 2:1-2 [NLT] “Timothy, my dear son, be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus. You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.”

Spiritual fathers are responsible for instructing and even disciplining, those who follow them along the way. It’s not just a job for pastors, it’s a job for every believer.

Q . Have you been through the NEXT discipleship process, either as a student or a mentor? If not, why not?

Q . What would our church look like if every mature believer invested in one person to mentor spiritually? How might that change the spiritual strength of Abundant Life?  How might that impact our community?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family: thank God for the spiritual father(s) who helped you to the point where you are now in your relationship with God. Ask the Holy Spirit to connect you with people you can look up to, and with people who can learn from your example.

Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

The God-Father

1. Power Verse

Joshua 1:5 “For I will not leave you. . . I will not fail you or abandon you.”

What’s Up: “God The Father Will Never Fail!”

As a family, write down a list of things that the “perfect” father would be or do. Write everything down, even if you know that what your child suggests may not really be what a perfect father would do (for example, “A perfect father would give me everything I want”).

2. Discussion

Once the list is completed, go back through it and discuss each item. Ask your children if the item really is something a perfect father should do. Some of the things they include should definitely stay on the list, such “a perfect father will always provide for his children.” Some things, though, should be removed. 

Q. Why did you include these items?

Q. Is there such thing as a “perfect” father?

God, as our Father in Heaven, is all of the things a perfect father should be and even more. Earthly dads have limitations, but God doesn’t.

Read the following scriptures that describe some of the characteristics of our Heavenly Father.

Matthew 28:20 “Teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And you can be sure that I am always with you, to the very end.”

Jeremiah 29:11 “‘I know the plans I have for you,’ announces the Lord. ‘I want you to enjoy success. I do not plan to harm you. I will give you hope for the years to come.’”

Psalm 121:3-4 “He won’t let your foot slip. He who watches over you won’t get tired. In fact, he who watches over Israel won’t get tired or go to sleep.”

Psalm 24:1 “The earth belongs to the Lord. And so does everything in it. The world belongs to him. And so do all those who live in it.”

Job 42:2 “I know that you can do anything.  No one can keep you from doing what you plan to do.”

Matthew 19:26 “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With people, this is impossible. But with God, all things are possible.’”

3. Challenge

Even though earthly dads aren’t perfect and may sometimes fail us, God will always do what’s best and right for us, and He will never fail us.

4. Prayer Focus

Pray that God will surround your family with godly people who will reflect the characteristics of our Heavenly Father to your children.

Leading in Worship

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

Worship changes you. Standing in God’s presence, singing together, hearing from the Holy Spirit… it should leave a lasting impact long after it’s over. How much it changes you, though, depends on how much you engage.

1. Discussion 

Proverbs 22:6 “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”

The way you as a parent, grandparent or mentor engage in worship will help define the norms and expectations for future generations, whether you’re actively teaching it or not. Kids learn by example.

Q . What were worship services like when you were a child? How were they different from today? How were they the same?

Q . If you attended church with your parents, what do you remember about how they engaged in worship? What effect do you think their engagement had on how you experience God’s presence today?

2. Challenge

2 Corinthians 3:18  “Our faces then are not covered. We all show the Lord’s glory, and we are being changed to be like him.  This change in us brings us ever greater glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

God wants us to engage in worship with excitement and awe, soaking in every moment in His presence. When we do, it not only changes how we experience Him, but it sets an example for others to follow.

Q . How would you describe your feelings about worship at church? 

a. Can’t wait for it to start. 

b. Can’t wait for it to be over.

c. Could take it or leave it.

Q . If you worked to change your level of engagement, what effect would that have on the way you experience the Holy Spirit in church? How might it affect the people around you?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family: thank God for giving you access to His presence. Ask the Holy Spirit to draw you into deeper levels of engagement in worship, so you and the people who follow your example can experience Him more fully.

Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Follow the Leader

1. Power Verse

Mark 10:43 “But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant.”

What’s Up: “I Will Lead Others To Jesus!”

This week, we conclude our series called, “Stand Out!” As Christians, it’s important that we stand out from the world and from culture. We must be different, and one of the greatest ways we can be different and stand out is by being a leader.

2. Discussion

Read: Acts 6:1-7  

“In those days the number of believers was growing. The Greek Jews complained about the non-Greek Jews. They said that the widows of the Greek Jews were not being taken care of. They weren’t getting their fair share of food each day.  So the 12 apostles gathered all the believers together. They said, ‘It wouldn’t be right for us to give up teaching God’s word. And we’d have to stop teaching to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven of your men. They must be known as men who are wise and full of the Holy Spirit. We will turn this important work over to them. Then we can give our attention to prayer and to teaching God’s word.’ This plan pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen. He was full of faith and of the Holy Spirit. Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon and Parmenas were chosen too. The group also chose Nicolas from Antioch. He had accepted the Jewish faith. The group brought them to the apostles. Then the apostles prayed and placed their hands on them. So God’s word spread. The number of believers in Jerusalem grew quickly. Also, a large number of priests began to obey Jesus’ teachings.”

Q. Why did they need help?  

Q. What did they do about their need?

Q. When the new leaders came to help with the food ministry, how did it affect the church?

3. Challenge

In this world, it’s easy for kids to see adults as leaders, but not actually see themselves as leaders. But kids CAN be leaders – and more importantly, Godly leaders! God has called all of us to be leaders in this world, leading others to Jesus.

Q. What are some ways you can be a leader at home? What are some ways you can be a leader at school?

Q. How can you lead others to Jesus? Godly leaders have a good reputation, practice self-control, seek peace rather than drama, and always follow Jesus’ commands. If we do those things, we can really STAND OUT for Jesus!

4. Prayer Focus

Ask your kids if they would like to commit to becoming a Godly leader. Pray that they will have a good reputation, practice self-control, always seek peace, and follow Jesus’ commands no matter what.

Door to My Heart

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For as long as I can remember one of the things that I have loved most has been music.  The Lord has used a simple melody or a lyric hundreds of times to capture my attention and direct me towards something that He wanted to say to me.  My most moving memories of God’s presence have almost always been accompanied by some piece of music.

One of my most favorite pieces of music is not even church or worship music, but rather would be considered by most people to be modern classical.  It is by a composer named Aaron Copeland and is named Appalachian Spring.  If you heard it you would probably recognize some of the melodies as it has been used in a lot of commercials and movie soundtracks.  There are parts of it that actually make me happy.

Anyway, music is a huge part of my life.  It communicates right into my spirit.  It is for that reason that I am very careful about what I listen to.  While this might not need to be a part of your life, for me nothing conveys a message right into my spirit quicker than melodies and lyrics.  For others perhaps it’s the written word or video but for me the quickest way to get something onto me is through music.

I think that everyone has something like this that works best for them.  I believe that God created each person with this “door” into their spirit.  It’s important that you find out what that is for you and become a guardian of that doorway.  It will be a very strategic position in your life.  Whoever controls the gate into your spirit will ultimately control your spirit.  Don’t allow anything through that gate that might move you away from God.  No message, tune, image, or philosophy.

I believe that this is what Solomon was admonishing us to do when he wrote in Proverbs 2:23 “Above all else, guard your heart.  For it is the wellspring of life”.  You have to be careful what you allow to take root inside you.  If you control what gets in you can control what takes root in your spirit, mind or heart.

Let me leave you with a favorite, simple, worship chorus that not only feeds my spirit, but also makes my point.  Enjoy it!


Feed My Lambs… AND My Sheep

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I was going back through some thoughts that I had made some notes on over the past few years and I thought that a couple of them would make good topics for our blog.  The first one goes right back to our discussion about what kind of music God likes and takes it a step further, considering what kind of music we should do as a church.

There is perhaps no issue more historically divisive in the church than the issue of music styles.  It’s in no way a new issue and you would think that by now we would have figured it out, but alas we digress.

Anyway, I think that I’ve absolutely figured this one out. 

In fact I’ll even go so far as to say that the Lord told me!  My guidance on this issue came one day as I was wrestling with how to lead a church to resolve this issue and how to perhaps write a book that would assist the Body of Christ to resolve this issue on a much larger scale.

While praying for and searching the Bible for guidance the Holy Spirit led me to John 21:15-17.  In this passage Jesus asks Peter if he loves him.  Peter quickly answers strongly in the affirmative to which Jesus tells Peter to “Feed his lambs”.  Then Jesus asks Peter the question a second time and Peter answers even more strongly that he indeed loves the Lord and Jesus replies “Tend my sheep”.  A third round takes place where Jesus once again asks Peter if he loves him and in understandable frustration Peter emphatically states his love for the Lord and Jesus replies “Feed my sheep”.

Did you catch it?  I didn’t for years.  Jesus instructs Peter to:

  • Feed my LAMBS

  • Tend my SHEEP

  • Feed my SHEEP

In the original Greek in these verses there are different words used for lambs and sheep.  Jesus is not saying the same thing three times.  He instructs Peter to feed both the lambs and the sheep.

I realize that the context of these verses has nothing to do with church music, but it does have to do with the mandate given to those who would care for the people of God.  What is that mandate?  Care for both the Lambs and the Sheep.  I interpret that to mean the young or immature and the older or mature members of the flock.

So many ministries have determined that they will set their sights on a particular demographic to the exclusion stylistically of all the other demographics of people around them.  They quote statistics about the age at which people get saved as the permission slip for this action and believe that they are cutting edge for their efforts.  I have a question for those ministries.  What are you going to do ten years from now when the lambs that you are winning today are the sheep of tomorrow and they, like all people, want to do the music that touched them when they were new in Christ? That style will now be ten years old, no longer cutting edge, and they will only have delayed this challenge by ten years.  In the process they will have left behind a lot of good sheep in the pursuit of more lambs and will have forsaken what I believe to be one of the fundamental values of the scriptures. 

That being the family nature of the Body of Christ with members on both ends of the age spectrum both benefiting from involvement in each other’s lives.

What do we therefore do?  We feed all ages every time.  Our teams of musicians work diligently to touch everybody every time.  Is it hard?  It’s very hard!  But everything great always is!  In the process, both ends of that age spectrum learn to love the other end of that spectrum and the Body of Christ grows strong.

Targeting a single demographic of people is easier.  Personally, I’m done with easier.  I’ve spent enough years doing easy things.  How about you?


What Music Does God Like?

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I was listening to the radio on the way to drop off Jack for school and then on to the church.  I am always tuned into the local Christian radio station and I was enjoying a song by a popular artist when a thought popped into my head “What kind of music does God like?”  Let me give you my best opinion.

I believe that music, while greatly enjoyed by people, was created, as was everything to give praise and glory to God.  Now remember that I believe that EVERYTHING was created to give praise and glory to God.  Don’t isolate music as the only thing that has worth when it is overtly worship or church music.  And what is it that makes music worship music anyway?

Let me propose an experiment.  Let’s take a recording of the vilest music that exists.  I’m not sure what piece of music that is, but somewhere it exists.  Now let’s take that music and play it on some sort of music player with an amplifier and speakers.  But here’s the catch, lets place that player in the middle of the Sahara Desert in a place hundreds of miles from anyone.  Can you picture it?  There’s nothing but sand, weeds, and lizards.  In that setting, how does God feel about that music?  My opinion is that in that setting, He doesn’t care about it at all.  Why?  Because I believe that music is nothing separate from people to hear it.  It is a vehicle designed to solicit a response in humans. 

It is the human, emotional response to the melody, tone, tempo, rhythm, and lyrics of the music that is significant, apart from that response, music is just intervals and numbers.

Back to our original question, “What music does God like?”  I believe that God likes any music that causes people to experience emotions that push them closer to Him.  Music that lifts Him up and creates an atmosphere in the hearts and minds of people that the Holy Spirit can inhabit. 

What music does God like?  I think it’s the music that makes us think about Him.