CG Check In Discussion

With service cancelations we ended up a week off from the sermon series, so you can either do the discussion out of Matthew 4:1-11, if you haven’t already, or you can do the CG check in discussion out of Acts 2 below.

Below is a discussion out of Acts 2 that serves as a good check in for how your group is doing, and doing this sort of discussion 1-2 times a year is a great rhythm for upkeep. This is by no means a performance review, but is meant more like a family discussion about how things are currently going and about anything you might want to change in the coming year. You’ll notice the discussion roots us in a biblical expression of early Christian community, cultivates thankfulness in our current community, but also turns us to the same transformative gospel that produced the community in Acts 2:42-47.

Forty-eight days after Jesus’ resurrection, thousands and thousands of Jews were gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks, what we call Pentecost. On Shavuot the giving of the Torah is celebrated, but that year God’s word arrived in a profoundly new way—the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus’ followers in tongues of fire, enabling them to proclaim the good news of the gospel in every language, and after a short sermon from Peter over 3000 men, women, and children repented and were baptized in the name of Jesus (Acts 2:1-41).

It’s this community of believers that’s described in Acts 2:42-47. Aside from the small core of Jesus’ disciples, the rest of the early church was made up of recent converts. Their brand-new faith in the risen Lord Jesus united them, perhaps because it also disrupted their existing familial and community relationships (though note that they still maintained “favor with all the people,” 2:47). Their belief changed their lives from top to bottom, pulling them together into a tight knit community, centering their lives on the teachings of the apostles, and stirring them up to show radical generosity towards one another. You get the sense that these people simply couldn’t stop getting together to rejoice over their new life in Christ. This was a community of resurrection.

But lest we lose heart when we think of our own communities, we should remember that tensions will soon flair over food distribution in Acts 6. What we’re seeing in Acts 2 is the honeymoon phase. Nevertheless, their shared life should form a pattern for us. Here we have a people who are freshly aware of the work of Christ and the forgiveness they have in his name, and the overflow of this awareness is a community of rejoicing, mutual care, and devotion. Their wonder over the gospel and their joy in community were inextricably tied. The same can happen in our lives.

However, the goal isn’t to just pantomime what the early church was doing but to have the same convictions and ask the same questions (ex. “how should I live now that my sins are forgiven?”) and then arrive at our own authentic conclusions (ex. “Jesus has been so generous to me that I can gladly help my neighbor pay his rent.”)

Looking at the beliefs and convictions that underlay this Christian community can also help us surface our unbelief and lack of conviction. For example, these followers were radically generous because their tenuous hope in this world had been transformed into an unshakeable hope in the world to come, so they didn’t have to hold on to all their possessions and wealth but could instead give freely to support others. When we are stingy or slow to help, when the idea of loving one seems too risky or determining how our group can advance the gospel together seems too burdensome, it’s likely because our hope has not been similarly transformed.

And yet it’s the same gospel that can overhaul our unbelief and lack of conviction. What do we proclaim? That Jesus died for sinners and makes a way for salvation that we could never earn, that rather than cleaning ourselves up we can come to him in surrender and have our entire selves metamorphosed by his resurrection life. So we don’t just pray, “God, help me get it right,” we pray, “God, change my heart so that I can do what you ask.” The latter option is the same sort of holistic gospel renewal that we see in this passage, and that’s what we’re shooting for. The very message we proclaim assures us that the goal of the Christian life isn’t performative but transformative.

Questions for Discussion

• Would someone read Acts 2:42-47 for us?

• What is most beautiful or compelling to you about this early Christian community?

• What about this passage is convicting to you?

• How can the gospel free us up to live like this?

• What’s something about our community group that you’re thankful for?

• Where do you think we have room to grow when it comes to knowing, living, and advancing the gospel?

• What are some of your hopes for our community group this year?