Greater Welcome


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SYNOPSIS OF THE SERMON
In this week’s sermon, Rich taught that one of the most identifiable ways that Jesus changes us is that he gives us welcoming hearts. And central to any understanding of the Kingdom of God is the word “welcome.” God has a special place in his heart for the weak, the poor, the widows and orphans, and for immigrants, who were called in the Old Testament “foreigners” and “aliens.” And as God’s people, we are to practice the welcome of the Kingdom to the least, the last, and the lost.

GETTING THE CONVERSATION STARTED
These questions can be used as ice-breakers in the beginning OR interwoven between the questions below to draw the group into the discussion.

1. Have you ever been in a situation where you knew that you were not welcome because of your race, religion, financial situation, or your education? Briefly share about your experience.
2. What do you think are some barriers that stand in the way of us becoming a more welcoming people?
3. Have you ever personally experienced the welcome of the Kingdom? Briefly share about your experience.
4. In his sermon, Rich shared about the current state of immigration in the United States, and that there are certain people groups who either can not enter the United States at all or who have to wait many years before they are allowed to enter. How does that make you feel?

INTERACTING WITH THE SERMON
1. Briefly give a synopsis of this week’s sermon. What insight, principle, or observation from this weekend’s message did you find to be most helpful, eye-opening, or troubling? Explain.

2. Read Luke 15:1-7:

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” 3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

• Who was gathering around Jesus? (v. 1) Why is this noteworthy?
• How do the Pharisees and the teachers of the law respond to this? (v. 2) Why do you think they would respond in this manner?
• How might the tax collectors and sinners have responded to what the Pharisees and the teachers of the law said?
• Compare and contrast the shepherd in the parable with the Pharisees and the teachers of the law.
• What is the response of the shepherd to finding his lost sheep?
• Is there a “lost sheep” in your life that you have been praying for? If time allows, pray for these people as a small group by name.

3. In this week’s sermon, Rich suggested sharing a meal and extending hospitality to practice the welcome of the Kingdom this holiday season.

• What other ideas can you add to Rich’s suggestions?
• What are some ways that you can become more welcoming and inviting as a small group?
• How might you use your gifts and skills to extend the welcome of the Kingdom to the least, the last, and the lost?
• Can you commit to living out just one of these ideas this holiday season?