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Way of Life Leader Guide: A Study Based on the The Great Spiritual Migration

Way of Life Leader Guide: A Study Based on the The Great Spiritual Migration

by Brian McLaren

Paperback(Leaders Gu)

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Overview

The study Way of Life will help groups approach and engage the spiritual, theological, and missional proposals in Brian McLaren's book The Great Spiritual Migration. The Leader Guide contains everything needed to guide a group through the four-week study including session plans and discussion questions, scripture, prayer, opening activities as well as multiple format options.


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501847714
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Publication date: 09/19/2017
Series: Way of Life Series
Edition description: Leaders Gu
Pages: 64
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.20(d)

About the Author

Brian D. McLaren is an author, speaker, activist, and public theologian. A former college English teacher and pastor, he is a passionate advocate for "a new kind of Christianity" - just, generous, and working with people of all faiths for the common good. He is an Auburn Senior Fellow, a contributor to We Stand With Love, and a leader in the Convergence Network, through which he is developing an innovative training/mentoring program for pastors and church planters.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Session 1

A Better Way to Be Christian

Planning the Session

Session Goals

Through this session's discussion and activities, participants will be encouraged to

• consider the need for Christianity to migrate spiritually, theologically, and missionally;

• think about how God is calling them to migrate in their spiritual lives;

• discover what it means to fight for our faith, not just for a system of beliefs;

• realize how the Lord has equipped us in this fight; and

• receive the call to move forward to transform our faith into one that mirrors the life and teachings of Jesus.

Preparation

• Read and reflect on the Preface and Introduction in The Great Spiritual Migration: How the World's Largest Religion Is Seeking a Better Way to Be Christian by Brian McLaren.

• Read through this session outline in its entirety to familiarize yourself with the material being covered. Be aware that there is a lot of material that can be covered within this session, so try to balance your discussion and group activity times. Choose the session elements you will use during the group session, including the specific discussion questions you plan to cover. Be prepared, however, to adjust the session as group members interact and as questions arise. Prepare carefully, but allow space for the Holy Spirit to move in and through the group members and through you as facilitator.

• Read and reflect on the following Scriptures:

Genesis 12:1-9

2 Corinthians 5:7

2 Timothy 1:14

1 Timothy 6:12

Jude 1:3

Matthew 23:25-28

Ephesians 6:10-18

Matthew 13:1-3, 45-46

• Have a markerboard or large sheet of paper available for recording group members' ideas.

• Have a Bible, paper for taking notes, and a pen or pencil available for every participant.

Opening Activity and Prayer (5–10 MINUTES)

As participants arrive, welcome them to this study. Depending on how familiar participants are with each other, you might want to spend a few minutes introducing yourselves and sharing why you were interested in doing this study.

Read aloud or summarize:

As we begin this study, we are going to start by talking about change, and the way humans have changed and adapted throughout the history of humanity.

For discussion (ask one or more of the following questions, depending on time):

• If you have studied your family's genealogy, what have you discovered about how your family got from one place to another? Do you have any insight into why they decided to move where they did? What did it mean for them to uproot and then put down new roots?

• What has been the physical migration of your life? If you were to track your physical migration from place to place, how would you describe your movement? Why did you move, or why did you stay?

• How would you describe your religious migration?

Opening Prayer

Lord, we are here today because we want more of you in our lives and in our religion. As we meet together today, guide our conversation, open our hearts, and give us ears to hear what you have for us to hear today. Speak to us, Lord. Move in us, and draw us closer to your heart every day. Amen.

DVD Segment (15 MINUTES)

Study and Discussion (35–40 MINUTES)

The Great Migration

Read aloud or summarize:

Brian McLaren's book The Great Spiritual Migration begins, "The human story is a tale of people in motion."

From the very beginning, humans have always been on the move, searching for the best places for them to be nourished and safe, living in the tension of when to settle down and when to move on. As they moved from location to location, and with each season, the people had to ask, "Do we stay, or do we go?"

Given our nomadic roots, McLaren turns the discussion in the DVD segment from physical migration to what it might mean to migrate spiritually. When do we stay, and when do we go? McLaren says he finds it strange how religious people tend to settle down and stop moving, stop dreaming, stop questioning, stop exploring. We tend to trade the adventurous pathway of following Jesus for the heavy architecture of the religious industrial complex.

In the introduction, McLaren makes a bold claim: Christianity is in need of change. It needs a migration from a system of beliefs to a way of life based on love.

For discussion:

• Imagine that two men move onto neighboring lands. One builds a castle to live in, while the other pitches a tent and settles in. What do you imagine is each man's philosophy or outlook on his life? What do you think each man thinks of the other and his choices?

• McLaren asserts that, when it comes to matters of faith, religious people tend to settle down and stop questioning and exploring. Do you agree with this? Why or why not?

• What do you think is the status of the modern church — does it seem to be static or fluid? How would you describe it?

• Do you think a spiritual migration is needed in Christianity? Why or why not?

Read aloud Genesis 12:1-9:

The Lord said to Abram, "Leave your land, your family, and your father's household for the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation and will bless you. I will make your name respected, and you will be a blessing.

I will bless those who bless you, those who curse you I will curse; all the families of the earth will be blessed because of you."

Abram left just as the Lord told him, and Lot went with him. Now Abram was 75 years old when he left Haran. Abram took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all of their possessions, and those who became members of their household in Haran; and they set out for the land of Canaan. When they arrived in Canaan, Abram traveled through the land as far as the sacred place at Shechem, at the oak of Moreh. The Canaanites lived in the land at that time. The Lord appeared to Abram and said, "I give this land to your descendants," so Abram built an altar there to the Lord who appeared to him. From there he traveled toward the mountains east of Bethel, and pitched his tent with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the Lord and worshipped in the Lord's name. Then Abram set out toward the arid southern plain, making and breaking camp as he went.

Genesis 12:1-9

For discussion:

• In Genesis 12:1-9, God says to Abraham, go to the place "I will show you." Abraham packed up his family and their home and set off, not knowing where he was going or what he would even do when he got there. He was told to simply go, in faith that God had a path for him. And he went. What does it typically take for you to make a move? If you were Abraham, how do you think you would have responded? What would have to motivate you to go?

• When the Lord tells you to move, but doesn't reveal how things will turn out when you get there, how do you typically react?

• Second Corinthians 5:7 says, "For we walk by faith, not by sight" (NKJV). What do you think God is telling us in this verse about how we should live our lives?

Fighting for the Faith

Read aloud or summarize:

In the New Testament, Paul and Jude encourage members of the young Christian church to fight for their faith.

Read aloud 2 Timothy 1:14, 1 Timothy 6:12, and Jude 1:3:

Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you — guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

2 Timothy 1:14 (NIV)

Compete in the good fight of faith. Grab hold of eternal life — you were called to it, and you made a good confession of it in the presence of many witnesses.

1 Timothy 6:12

Dear friends, I wanted very much to write to you concerning the salvation we share. Instead, I must write to urge you to fight for the faith delivered once and for all to God's holy people.

Jude 1:3

For discussion:

• In these passages, what verbs stand out to you? Do these verses describe passive or strong actions?

Read aloud or summarize:

The verbs "guard," "fight," and "compete," used in these passages demonstrate the kind of strength and determination it takes to fight for one's faith. Both Paul and Jude use the same Greek word for "compete" and "fight": agonizomai. If you look closely, you'll see here the root of the English word agony. It's no mistake that Jude uses this word because it's the same Greek word often used to talk about the intense effort displayed in athletic events. This is no passive fight.

McLaren lays out a modern-day concern much like Paul and Jude's — Christianity has suffered at the hands of Christians and has become a rigid system of beliefs. The religion no longer reflects the simple way of life of love taught by Jesus. Note that Jude and Paul urge believers to fight for faith, not a system of beliefs. It's a race worth winning, and we as Christians should put our most intense effort forward, agonizing as it may be. Fighting for the faith means fighting with strength and determination.

For discussion:

• McLaren points out that Jude did not say to fight for a belief system but to fight for the faith. Why is this an important distinction to make?

• In what ways does fighting for the faith sometimes look like fighting against a belief system?

Read aloud or summarize:

In the Introduction of The Great Spiritual Migration, McLaren gives the illustration of the Coke and the can, in which he points out that because of marketing and personal experience, we know what to expect when we pop open a can of Coke and take a sip. But, he wonders, what if we popped open the can and it tasted nothing like we expected, if it tasted horrible instead? How then might we think about Coke? Would we dare to open another can? He writes, "A brand like Coke only has meaning because it is linked to an essential quality or qualities for a soft drink: taste — not the can. ... And what are the qualities of Christian faith that really matter, regardless of the packaging?"

Read aloud Matthew 23:25–28:

[Jesus said,] "How terrible it will be for you legal experts and Pharisees! Hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and plate, but inside they are full of violence and pleasure seeking. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup so that the outside of the cup will be clean too.

"How terrible it will be for you legal experts and Pharisees! Hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs. They look beautiful on the outside. But inside they are full of dead bones and all kinds of filth. In the same way you look righteous to people. But inside you are full of pretense and rebellion."

Matthew 23:25-28

For discussion:

• What do you think most people today associate with the Christian "brand"?

• How do you feel when you read Jesus' words in Matthew 23:25-28? Do they convict you in some way?

•How do you interpret Jesus' words for us modern-day Christians? What are some things that are dirtying our cups? What are some ways that we tend to clean up the outside but neglect what's less noticeable?

What You Love, You Protect

Read aloud or summarize:

In McLaren's first devotional in the Way of Life Participant Guide, he talks about living near the ocean, and of how he and other residents work each year to protect sea turtle eggs, which are laid on nearby beaches. In order to survive, these eggs need protection from external threats such as raccoons, hurricanes, shrimp nets, water pollution, and other forms of human interference. These animals face external, not internal, threats. In the same way, he points out that, though in many places around the world Christianity does face real external threats, for the most part, the survival of Christianity is being threatened from within the faith. He writes,

We Christians, you might say, are the greatest threat to Christian faith. Christians can be blinded by wealth and greed, misguided by religious or political leaders, polluted by un-Christ-like attitudes, kidnapped by ideology, or numbed by comfort and apathy. As a result, we can receive and pass on versions of the faith that are distorted with racism or twisted by greed or fear.

McLaren says that if we love our faith, we must protect it from dangers like these. And if previous generations have led us astray, we must have the courage to correct the course.

For discussion:

• McLaren points out that Christian faith is what Christians make of it — ugly or beautiful, judgmental or gracious, complacent or energetic, selfish or generous. What, do you perceive, is the current state of Christianity in our country?

• Do you think we are in need of a course correction? In what ways?

• What does it mean for you to fight? What's been your experience when you are frustrated or angry? Do you want to give up and retreat? Do you get angry and mobilize? What are your current feelings about fighting for the state of your faith?

We Are Equipped

Activity:

Read aloud Ephesians 6:10-18:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord's people.

Ephesians 6:10-18 (NIV)

Using a markerboard or large sheet of paper, first make a list of the pieces of armor described in this passage. Then go back and, next to each piece of armor, have participants identify what Scripture says each item represents. (If you need help, see the list below.)

• Belt — Truth

• Breastplate — Righteousness

• Footwear — Readiness; Peace

• Shield — Faith

• Helmet and Sword — Word of God

Ask:

• What does the list above tell us about how God has equipped us? What tools has God given us to fight with?

• Considering the current fight for your faith (or Christianity as a whole), which part of the armor feels most vital to you right now?

The Call Forward

Read aloud or summarize:

In the DVD segment, McLaren says that The Great Spiritual Migration is a challenge to Christians to wake up, climb out of our ruts, venture out of our temples and tombs, and hear the call to migration arising in our souls. The call of this book, and this study, will lead us through three migrations needed to transform Christianity:

1. spiritual — moving away from a system of beliefs and toward Christianity as a way of life of love,

2. theological — thinking anew about Scripture and rediscovering a vision of a loving God, and

3. missional, or practical — going from an organized religion to a religion organizing itself for the common good.

(Note to Leader: You might want to write these three migrations on a markerboard or large sheet of paper for the group to see.)

Read aloud Matthew 13:1-3, 45-46, and (once again) Jude 1:3:

That day Jesus went out of the house and sat down beside the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he climbed into a boat and sat down. The whole crowd was standing on the shore. He said many things to them in parables: ...

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. When he found one very precious pearl, he went and sold all that he owned and bought it."

Matthew 13:1-3, 45-46

Dear friends, I wanted very much to write to you concerning the salvation we share. Instead, I must write to urge you to fight for the faith delivered once and for all to God's holy people.

Jude 1:3

For discussion:

• Some people interpret Jude's mention of a "faith delivered once and for all" as proof that Christianity is meant to stay the same throughout history. But in response to Jude 1:3, McLaren writes, "The message of and about Jesus is in fact a given — it is Christianity's pearl, our treasure, our gift, and it must never be lost. The meaning-rich stories of what Jesus said and did form the unique heart of Christian faith that must always pulse within us."

• What "meaning-rich stories" of what Jesus said and did are most important to your own faith? How would you summarize "the message of and about Jesus" in just one or two sentences?

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "Way of Life Leader Guide"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Abingdon Press.
Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents

To the Leader,
Session 1: A Better Way to Be Christian,
Session 2: From a System of Beliefs to a Way of Life,
Session 3: Toward a Loving God of Liberation,
Session 4: For the Common Good,

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