Home Groups

spiritual friendship | spiritual practice | spiritual gifts

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Spiritual Friendship (Phase One)

TELLING GOD STORIES (KNOW YOUR NEIGHBOR)

NUMBER: 4-8 pEOPLE | GATHERINGS: 4-5X | TIME FRAME: 90 days

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Spiritual friendships are based around the presence of God in one another’s lives. The best way to build this kind of friendship is by telling our God stories.

Home groups gather around snacks or a meal and take turns telling their God stories. Stories are anywhere between ten minutes to a half hour long. One or two people share their stories per gathering.

A God story can be told by writing down your answer to one or more of the following questions:

  1. Was there a time when you became curious or enamored with God?

  2. How did you become involved with church?

  3. Was there ever a time when your passion was kindled for a ministry or a cause?

  4. What are the ways you have grown in the past year, five years, ten years?

  5. Was there an especially meaningful or painful life event that changed you?

  6. Is there a mentor or role model of faith who inspires you?

Spiritual Practice (Phase Two)

Practicing the Presence of Jesus (KNOW GOD’s LOVE)

NUMBER: 4-10 pEOPLE | GATHERINGS: 5-6X | TIME FRAME: 90 days

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Spiritual practices are the various ways we come to know the presence of Jesus Christ in our lives and begin to follow him. Home groups gather around snacks or a meal to agree upon 1-3 spiritual practices. The group then meets 4-5 more times to both engage the practice(s) and reflect on their experience. Spiritual practices are also done apart from the group through the week. Each spiritual practice can range from five minutes to twenty minutes.

More familiar spiritual practices include:

READING THE WHOLE BIBLE IN 3-12 MONTHS

READING THE WHOLE BIBLE IN 3-12 MONTHS

PRAYING JESUS’ PRAYER VERBATIM OR AS A PRAYER TEMPLATE

PRAYING JESUS’ PRAYER VERBATIM OR AS A PRAYER TEMPLATE

PRAYING FOR THE NEEDS OF OTHERS

PRAYING FOR THE NEEDS OF OTHERS

READING A FEW BIBLE VERSES 3X SLOWLY, LISTENING FOR GOD

READING A FEW BIBLE VERSES 3X SLOWLY, LISTENING FOR GOD

Less familiar spiritual practices might include:

REVIEWING THE DAY WHILE NOTICING GOD’S PRESENCE AND GOD’S ABSENCE

REVIEWING THE DAY WHILE NOTICING GOD’S PRESENCE AND GOD’S ABSENCE

BREATHING A SENTENCE OF SCRIPTURE. ONE PART INHALE, THE OTHER EXHALE

BREATHING A SENTENCE OF SCRIPTURE. ONE PART INHALE, THE OTHER EXHALE

PRAYING WITHOUT WORDS WHILE LISTENING TO GOD

PRAYING WITHOUT WORDS WHILE LISTENING TO GOD

After doing a spiritual practice together, the home group discusses the experience for another ten to sixty minutes using these four questions:

  1. How did God inspire (!) you through this practice?

  2. What inquiries (?) did this practice raise for you?

  3. What irked (#&*!) you about this practice?

  4. Does God require (Δ) anything of you through this practice?

Spiritual Gifts (Phase Three)

Sharing god’s Love (BLESS YOUR neighbor)

NUMBER: 4-10 people | gatherINGs: 5-10x | TIME FRAME: 90-120 days

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Spiritual gifts are the many and diverse ways God’s love is shared through ordinary people working together for the common good.

Home groups practice their spiritual gifts by choosing a Service Project (see below) that blesses their neighbors. Before the service project, the group meets 2-3 times around snacks or a meal to have Clarity Discussions (see below). Home groups also gather 2 times afterward to practice the Ignatian Examen (see below). Service projects range from once a month, one a week, or weeklong intensives. The home group might choose from the following list:

  • SERVING A MEAL AT CITY RESCUE MISSION NEW CASTLE: The last Saturday of the month (12:20-1:45pm) in groups of 3-4 max. May to August 2019. Contact Mike Kennedy

  • DISTRIBUTING FREE WATER FOR SALVATION ARMY: 3 consecutive days June 28-30 during the Ellwood City Arts & Crafts Festival. You would need groups of two handing out water in two hour slots, plus maintain a steady water and ice supply, plus setting up and tearing down. Contact Dick Falen.

  • SERVING A MEAL TO KIDS AT WALNUT RIDGE: one night per week (right now Bell is signed up for Wednesday nights, 5-6:30pm) in group of 4-5 max. June to Aug 2019. Contact Kathy Newton.

  • CULTIVATING A PUBLIC GARDEN BIN. Available bins include tomato, cucumber, and bell peppers. May to September 2019. Contact George Petrak or Kelly Brack (724-816-5193).

  • UNLOADING + ORGANIZING GOODS AT HOLY REDEEMER SOCIAL SERVICES on the Thursday morning of the month from 9am-12pm and/or the first and fourth Tuesday of the month from 9am-12pm. May - August 2019. Contact Mike Kennedy.

  • PREPARING MEALS THROUGH A MEAL TRAIN: Prepare 4-6 meals for a household who is sick, grieving, or has a new child in their home anytime May to August 2019. Contact Peg Petrak.

  • SERVING IN THE CARPENTER’S PROJECT: Joining the 17th annual Ellwood City Carpenter’s Project for 3-5 days from 8am-5pm. The week of July 8th-12th 2019. Contact Bob Kastroll.

  • SERVING AT THE NEXT RUMMAGE SALE: Helping sort clothes, organize space, and creating a place of hospitality for neighbors over 2-3 consecutive days. September 2019. Contact Louise Carroll.

  • ORGANIZING A SHINING STARS GIFT DRIVE. Organizing a drive to purchase gifts for low-resource families in Ellwood City over Christmas in partnership with Holy Redeemer Social Services. November to December 2019. Contact Beth Duncan.

Home groups meet 2-3 times to have clarity discussions before the service project Clarity discussions involve answering these seven questions in ways that everyone understands:

  1. What is the purpose of our project?

  2. How will we behave during this project?

  3. What will we actually do during this project?

  4. What spiritual practices will help us do this project in Jesus’ name? (see phase two)

  5. How will we measure faithfulness and fruitfulness? (or What does success look like?)

  6. What is most important at this point in time?

  7. Who is going to do what? (or What spiritual gifts can we use?)

Home groups gather 2 times around snacks or a meal to practice the Ignatian Examen after the service project. This spiritual practice involves reviewing moments throughout the project for a few minutes silently, then answering the following questions together:

  1. When did I sense a connection with God, self, others, or earth? When did I lack this connection?

  2. When did I live out of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)? When did I not?

  3. For what am I most grateful? For what am I least grateful?

  4. What were the most life-giving parts of this project? What were the least life-giving?