Practice 4: Week of 9/26

PRACTICE 4

As you begin, take a few moments to pray as a missional community and invite the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your time together.

Eat & Debrief 25 min
While eating dinner, spend a few minutes catching up on life and then talk about the following debrief questions. If your group is larger than 7, you may find it beneficial to split into groups of 3-5 for this portion, “open the Bible together”, and “discussion questions” at the end.

  1. How did it go this past week?
  2. Was it easy or difficult to “let yourself feel”?
  3. Did you feel comfortable being honest with the Father about your emotions?
  4. What did “processing” those emotions with the Father look like for you? (If you did not get here last week, that is ok, no need to feel any pressure)

Open the Bible together 10 min
Have someone read Psalm 13 & 30:1-5 and talk about the following questions:

  1. What are some of the emotions you see present in the Psalms we’ve read?
  2. Notice the repetition of the phrase, “How long?” in Psalm 13; are there feelings that you have held onto for long periods of time?
  3. Are you able to name your emotions like David did in these Psalms?

The Explanation & Prompt 10 min
Watch the video prompt together as a group.

1. Put away your phone or any other distractions, settle into your time/place with a” Breathing Prayer” (this is just a fancy term for ↓)

• Close your eyes. Take long, deep, slow breaths. Release the constant chatter in your mind. Let each thought go as quickly as it comes, and just focus on your breathing.

2. Take a few moments to “Abide”. Focus your mind and heart on the reality of God’s nearness and that if you are a follower of Jesus, you have been given the Holy Spirit.

  • This is a good exercise regardless of whether we feel anything or not.
  • If you have trouble, it may be helpful to say/write something like, “God, you are here with me, thank you that you are good”. Stay here as long as it takes to be able to remain/abide/hold on to this truth.

3. Ask the Holy Spirit to lead as you take a moment to “Self-Reflect”. It’s helpful to ask yourself a few questions: “What am I experiencing now?”; “What have I been experiencing lately?”; “What is/has been going on in my heart and mind?”.

    1. God is not interested in falsehood or pretense.
    2. Let yourself feel. What emotions rise to the surface, big or small?
    3. Name “the good, the bad, and the ugly” of your emotional state.
    4. Don’t run away from what you’re feeling.
    5. Remember: our emotions aren’t something to avoid. Instead, they are a place to meetGod and open yourself up to him in new ways.
    6. Acknowledge the full truth about “where you are” and “what you feel” with God. Honestly share this with the Father. Sit with it for a moment, knowing that he hears and is present and desires intimacy with us in both our most joyful and darkest moments.

• If you find yourself struggling here, it may be worth returning to step 3 and reading Psalm 23 and sitting with it, and then re-entering steps 4 and 5.

4. Share your heart and process with the Father. There is no script for this, but the idea is to pour out/unpack your heart/what’s going on with God.

5. Invite the Holy Spirit to make known the heart of the Father for us, along with clarity or wisdom. There is no need to rush or force this. We can trust the Spirit is at work in and among us more deeply and long before and after this prayer.

The Practice 15 min
Dismiss everyone to go find a spot for the practice. Return to the same group you debriefed with.

Work through these discussion questions 10 min

  1. What did you find easy or difficult?
  2. Did you feel comfortable being vulnerable with the Father about your emotions?
  3. What did “processing” those emotions with the Father look like for you?

Close in prayer 5 min ______________________

Tips for the Coming Week

1. This is the type of practice that might take some time. Emotions can be hard, and naming them can be confusing. If you are having a difficult time putting a name to your emotions try using a “feelings wheel” to better define your emotions.

2. Keeping a journal can also be helpful for learning to name and understand emotions.

3. Lean on your community in times of difficulty, celebrate with them in times of joy!

 

Practice 3: Week of 9/19


Practice 3: Emotional Awareness

Overview

Human beings are emotional creatures. We feel, deeply at times. Sadly, American church culture can be quick to write off “feelings” or “emotional health.” But Jesus puts on display a high level of emotional awareness. For Jesus, emotions – positive or negative – are places to meet with God. The goal of practice three is to grow our awareness of our own feelings and practice processing each one with the Father.  

Prayer 

As you begin, take a few moments to pray as an MC and invite the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your time together.

Debrief 10 min

Talk through the following debrief questions:

  1. How have you been keeping up with your practicing silence and solitude? 
  2. What did you experience in silence and solitude?
  3. What was the best part? The hardest part?
  4. What barriers did you experience? What would help you better navigate those?

Open to the Bible together 10 min

Have somebody read Luke 22:39-46

Talk about the following questions:

  1. What did Jesus do with his deep emotions of sorrow and dread? What kind of example does that set for us who want to be with Him?
  2. What was the result of Jesus recognizing his emotions and then giving them over to the Father in prayer?
  3. What are some of the reasons that we, like Jesus’ apprentices in the story, have a hard time meeting God in our emotions, specifically our negative emotions?

The Explanation & Prompt 15min

A few notes before beginning:

  • Notebook/something to write could be helpful this week
  • You will get into groups of 2-3 for “debrief”. Go ahead and select who/where before you start the video prompt. 
  • It will be helpful for people to be able to have a physical copy of the guide both for practice and the debrief questions after.
  1. Put away your phone or any other distractions, settle into your time/place
  2. “Breathing prayer”: this is meant to help us slow down and disconnect from distractions
  • Close your eyes; Take long, deep, slow breaths; Release the constant chatter in your mind. Let each thought go as quickly as it comes.
  1. “Abide”: God has given followers of Jesus the Holy Spirit. Abiding is acknowledging and tuning our own hearts and mind into the reality that God is here with us in this moment. 
  2. “Self-awareness”: Ask yourself a few questions: “What am I experiencing now?”; “What have I been experiencing lately?”; “What is/has been going on in my heart and mind?”. 
  • What emotions rise to the surface, big or small? 
  • You might feel joy, gratitude, sadness, emptiness, fatigue, worry, shame, conviction, or any number of perceived positive or negative emotions.
  • Name “the good, the bad, and the ugly” of your emotional state. Don’t run away from what you’re feeling. 
  • If you find this exercise to be difficult, you may find it helpful to jot down a few prompts and then finish the sentence. Here are few examples:
    • This week I was happy when …
    • I felt angry this week when …
    • I’m discouraged or disappointed about…
    • I am feeling…
  1. Pray: Get it all off your chest. Give whatever you are feeling over to God – the good, the bad, and the ugly. No filter. The point here isn’t to be good, but to be honest. 
  • Different emotions call for different kinds of prayer. 
  • If you’re happy – celebrate! Sing! Dance! 
  • If you’re grateful, tell God what for with specificity. 
  • If you’re anxious, give your worry over to the Father and ask for his peace in return. 
  • If you’re sitting in unanswered questions about your life or future, hold that tension before God. Tell him how it feels not to have an answer. Don’t force clarity where there is none. Just be patient before God with all that is unsolved in your heart. 

Close in a prayer of gratitude to the Father (simple version: thank Him that he is near to us)

A few things to note:

  1. Emotions are not inherently “good” or “bad” but do offer clues to how we are experiencing God and the world around us.
  2. Having a journal to write some of the things you are feeling can be really helpful.

The Practice 15 min

Dismiss everyone to go find a spot to be silent and “do” the practice. (The leader will set a timer once everyone has found a place). Take a notebook/pen with you. When the timer is up, go to your “smaller group”.

Work through these discussion questions in groups of 2-3 10-15 min

  1. Would you say you are able to name your emotions readily? Or is it difficult for you? Why or why not?
  2. Was emotional awareness a part of your upbringing? How did your family deal with emotions? How has that shaped your life today?

Close in prayer 5-10 min

Tips for the Coming Week

Continue taking time throughout your week to be in silence and notice the emotions that are rising up within. For now we are simply naming these emotions and recognizing that they are neither “good” nor “bad”. 

  1. This is the type of practice that might take some time. Emotions can be hard, and naming them can be confusing. If you are having a difficult time putting a name to your emotions try using a “feelings wheel” to better define your emotions.
  2. Keeping a journal can also be helpful for learning to name and understand emotions.

Recreation + : Week of 9/12

This week we encourage you to hang out with your Missional Community at the Arts City Festival.

Recreation week discussion questions:

  • What challenges did you face in spending time abiding with Christ? Did you experience any positive outcomes from you time? 
    • If you feel comfortable, take a moment to share about your practicing silence and solitude, honestly. 
  • How can we help one another continue this practice?

The ArtsCity Festival is a Mini-Arts in the Heart Festival on September 17, 18, 19, 2021. Over 80 juried Fine Artists Booths will line the center of Broad Street. Booths will be spaced to integrate social distancing. Two Stages of non-stop entertainment will include the Global Stage on the Augusta Common with cultural music and dance along with featured music. A Jazz Stage will offer Jazz, Blues and Roots performances on Broad Street. The Global Food Village on the Augusta Common will feature ten international food booths and encourage Grab ‘n’ Go Specials from Festival restaurant partners. Plenty of outdoor tables will be provided to encourage safe dining. We also have a Southern Beer Garden, Artzilla Artists painting all weekend outside the Book Tavern and a Westobou Sponsored Ferris Wheel! Advance weekend badges are now available!

FESTIVAL INCLUDES:

– Over 80 Juried Fine Artists Booths

– Global Stage on the Common and Jazz/Blues/Roots Stage

– Non-stop Concerts and Performances All Weekend

– The Wayne Hoey Band featuring International Star Wycliffe Gordon

– Westobou Sponsored Ferris Wheel

– Southern Beer Garden

– Artzilla Live Painting All Weekend

– Authentic International Cuisine from 10 Countries including Ireland, Greece, Italy, India, China, Laos, Philippines, Jamaica, Latin America, and Thailand

– Great Food from Downtown Restaurant Partners

– Public Safety Enhancements

– Great Hotel Discounts

– Weekend Badge: $10 in Advance / $15 at the Gate

– Festival App for mobile devices: Text ARTS to 55741 for App Link

Practice 2: Week of 8/22


Practice 2: Abiding

Overview

As a whole church, throughout the course of this Fall, we are going to make space and intentionally pursue “being with Jesus” – both together and individually. Our first step in this direction was to familiarize ourselves with the practice of “Silence & Solitude”. As we continue to build upon the practice of spending time in silence we are going to add small pieces to our time in silence. This week we will be moving from simply “stilling” our hearts to beginning to be with Jesus. 

Our goal for today is to build upon last week’s practice of “Silence & Solitude”, continue to practice together, and make plans for how we will implement it personally this week.

Prayer 

After you debrief, take a few moments to pray as an MC and invite the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your time together.

Debrief 10 min

Talk through the following debrief questions:

  1. How did last week go? What did you experience in silence and solitude?
  2. What was the best part? The hardest part?
  3. What barriers did you experience? What would help you better navigate those?

Open to the Bible together 10 min

Have somebody read John 14:8-10 and another person read John 15:4-11. Talk about the following questions:

  1. How do you see the connection between silence and solitude and abiding in Christ?
  2. Where do you see the role of abiding in Jesus’ ministry?
  3. How did the disciples abide in Christ? How can we?

The Explanation & Prompt  5-10 min

Here’s the practice for this evening and the upcoming week. It is going to look very similar to the previous practice:

  1. Put away your phone or any other distractions, settle into your time/place, and get comfortable
  • For most people, sitting with your back straight, shoulders relaxed, legs on the floor is a good start. 
  1. Begin with a “breathing prayer” (this is just a fancy term for ↓)
  • Close your eyes.
  • Take long, deep, slow breaths (if you want, count 4 seconds in, 4 seconds wait, 4 seconds out, repeat).
    Inhale through your nose, exhale through your mouth.
  • Start to pay attention to your breathing. Just “watch” your breath go in and out.
  • Release the constant chatter in your mind. Let each thought go as quickly as it comes, and just focus on your breathing.
  • Your mind will seize this opportunity to run wild with thoughts, feelings, memories, to do’s, and distractions. That’s okay. Don’t judge yourself, feel bad, give up, or worry. When you notice your mind start to wander, just recenter with a quick prayer, like, “Father, you are here with me.”  and come back to your breathing.
  1. Whether we believe or experience it, God is omniscient/present with us. Welcome his love, joy, and peace from the Holy Spirit.
  • The main goal here is to sit in and grow an awareness of the presence of God. Just as Jesus retreated and quieted himself to be with the father, we too want to make space to get quiet and be with Jesus.
  1. Close in a prayer of gratitude to the Father (simple version: thank Him that he is near to us)

A few things to note:

  1. You can’t “succeed” or “fail” at this practice. All you can do is show up. Be patient. Resist the urge to say, “I’m bad at this” or “This isn’t for me.” Don’t judge yourself, especially if you’re an overachiever type.
  2. If sitting still feels like death, you might want to try this while doing a stretching exercise or going on a walk somewhere quiet and distraction free (like a park or short hike). 

The Practice 7 min

Dismiss everyone to go find a spot to be silent and “do” the practice. (The leader will set a timer once everyone has found a place). Feel free to take a notebook/pen with you. When the timer is up, return to the group.

Work through these discussion questions 10-15 min

  1. How did it go?
  2. What was the best part? The hardest part?
  3. What barriers do you think you will face in practicing silence at least 5-7 minutes 3 times this week?
  4. What is your deepest fear and greatest hope for this coming week’s practice?

Close in prayer 5-10 min

Tips for the Coming Week

  1. Identify a time/place that works well for you
  • Time: For most people, first thing in the morning works best. You’re rested, fresh, and the day is young. For others, a more optimal time slot is when kids are napping in the late morning, or on a lunch break, after work, or before you go to bed. Feel free to experiment until you find the right fit.
  • Place: Find a place that is quiet and as distraction free as possible: A comfortable chair or a park are also a good bet.
  • For most people, sitting with your back straight, shoulders relaxed, legs on the floor is a good start. Others do better lying on their back in a relaxed position.
  • Some of you may prefer to do this exercise while walking or doing something simple with your hands like drawing.
  1. Set a modest goal
  • Beginners: It’s better to start small and work your way up. We recommend you start with 5-10 minutes, 3-5 days a week.
  • Intermediate: If you already practice silence and solitude a few times a week, consider upping it to every day.
Practice 2 was adapted for use by Redemption Church from Practicingtheway.org

Practice 1: Week of 8/15

Practice 1: The Basics

Overview

Whether you are a graphic designer, a pastor, a small business owner, a parent of young children, retired, or unemployed, one of the significant challenges we face in our apprenticeship (discipleship) to Jesus is our difficulty making space to be with Jesus. 

As a whole church, throughout the course of this Fall, we are going to make space and intentionally pursue “being with Jesus” – both together and individually. Our first step in this direction will be to familiarize ourselves with the practice of “Silence & Solitude”. Not because it’s magical, but because most of us desperately need to create a space to get in touch with our own hearts and minds, and more importantly Jesus. The remaining Fall practices will build on the foundation of “Silence & Solitude”, but are geared to be more active/interactive (no need for extroverts to panic).

Our goal for today is to introduce “Silence & Solitude”, actually practice it (at least to some measure… the solitude part is debatable), and make plans for how we will implement it personally this week.

Note before you start: Be patient with yourself and God, and enjoy the journey.

Prayer 5 min

As you begin, take a few moments to pray as an MC and invite the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your time together.

Debrief 10 min

Talk through the following debrief questions:

  1. What did you think of the sermon this week?
  2. Is silence and solitude a regular part of your discipleship to Jesus? If yes, what does that look like in your life rhythm? If no, why not? (Note: The point of this question is honest conversation, not guilt or shame. Work hard to create a safe place in your community for people at every stage.)
  3. How does the idea of silence and solitude make you feel? Excited? Scared? Too busy?

Open to the Bible together 10 min

Have somebody read Luke 4:42 and another person read Luke 5:15-16. Work through following questions:

  1. Why do you think Jesus would regularly slip away to “lonely places”?
  2. Where do you see the role of silence and solitude played out in Jesus’ emotional health and spiritual life?
  3. What challenges would Jesus have faced to carve out time to be alone with himself and God? Do you face any similar challenges?

The Explanation & Prompt  5-10 min

Here’s the practice for this evening and the upcoming week.

  1. Put away your phone or any other distractions, settle into your time/place, and get comfortable
  • For most people, sitting with your back straight, shoulders relaxed, legs on the floor is a good start. 
  1. Begin with a “breathing prayer” (this is just a fancy term for ↓)
  • Close your eyes and take long, deep, slow breaths (if you want, count 4 seconds in, 4 seconds wait, 4 seconds out, repeat). Inhale through your nose, exhale through your mouth.
  • Start to pay attention to your breathing. 
  • Release the constant chatter in your mind. Let each thought go as quickly as it comes, and just focus on your breathing.
  • Your mind will seize this opportunity to run wild with thoughts, feelings, memories, to do’s, and distractions. That’s okay. Don’t judge yourself, feel bad, give up, or worry. When you notice your mind start to wander, just recenter with a quick prayer, like, “Father, you are here with me.”  and come back to your breathing.
  • The main goal this week is to practice “stilling” our heart and mind. 
  • In the beginning, just 3-5 minutes of this is a huge win, and 10 minutes is a home run.
  1. Close in a prayer of gratitude to the Father (simple version: thank Him that he is near to us)

A few things to note:

  1. You can’t “succeed” or “fail” at this practice. All you can do is show up. Be patient. Resist the urge to say, “I’m bad at this” or “This isn’t for me.” Don’t judge yourself, especially if you’re an overachiever type.
  2. If sitting still feels like death, you might want to try this while doing a stretching exercise or going on a walk somewhere quiet and distraction free (like a park or short hike). 

The Practice 5 min

Dismiss everyone to go find a spot to be silent and “do” the practice. (The leader will set a timer once everyone has found a place). Feel free to take a notebook/pen with you. When the timer is up, return to the group.

Work through these discussion questions as a group 10-15 min

  1. How did it go?
  2. What was the best part? The hardest part?
  3. When will you practice this week? What barriers do you think you will face in practicing silence at least 5 minutes 3 times this week? How will you navigate those?
  4. What is your deepest fear and greatest hope for this coming week’s practice?

Close in prayer 5-10 min

Tips for the Coming Week

  1. Identify a time/place that works well for you
  • Time: For many people, first thing in the morning works best. You’re rested, fresh, and the day is young. For others, a more optimal time slot is when kids are napping in the late morning, or on a lunch break, after work, or before you go to bed. Feel free to experiment until you find the right fit.
  • Place: Find a place that is quiet and as distraction free as possible: a comfortable chair or a park are also a good bet.
  • For most sitting with your back straight, shoulders relaxed, legs on the floor is a good start. Others do better lying on their back in a relaxed position.
  • Some may prefer to do this exercise while walking or doing something simple with your hands like drawing or knitting. 
  1. Set a modest goal
  • Beginners: It’s better to start small and work your way up. We recommend you start with 5-10 minutes, 3-5 days a week.
  • Intermediate: If you already practice silence and solitude a few times a week, consider upping it to every day.

Fall 2021 Missional Community Calendar

Emphasis: Being with Jesus together

Week of:page1image2052603872

8/1: First Discussion (Vision Series) 8/8 8/14 Lake Day @ Cherokee Point

8/15: Practice 1

8/22: Practice 2

8/29: Serve (Workday @ Church on August 28th) click for more info

9/5 Take a Break (off)

9/12: Recreation+ (plan to hang out at the Arts City Festival 

9/19: Practice 3

9/26: Serve (Ironman on Sept 26th)/Practice 4 

10/3: Recreation

10/10: Workshop: Practice 5/Workshop Debrief Discussion

10/17: Practice 6 (DNA Style)

10/24: Serve (Trick or Treat on Broad Street on October 30th)

10/31: Serve (Augusta Handmade Fair 11/5 & 11/6) SIgn up to volunteer here

11/7: Sunday Potluck/Practice 7

11/14: Practice 8

11/21: Off/MC Option

11/28: Advent Kickoff & Deck the Halls

12/5: Advent Discussion 

12/12: MC Christmas Parties

12/19: Off

12/26: Off

MC Fall Launch

Discussion Questions:

  1. Did you listen to the sermon this week from John 15:1-11? What did you think?
  2. Read John 15:1-11. Jesus repeatedly calls His disciples to abide in Him. What do you think that means? What does abiding in Christ really look like?
  3. Are you already personally practicing any spiritual disciplines that help you abide in Christ? What are they and how do you go about them? Have you seen fruit from them?
  4. We can allow many things to pull us away from being with Jesus and abiding in Him. What particular things pull you away the most? What obstacles do you encounter?
  5. How would practicing being with Jesus together be helpful? Does anything about that intimidate you?