SYNOPSIS OF THE SERMON
The Bible teaches that God is creating a new human family out of the multitude of races. And yet, the Christian church in America betrays the gospel by its lack of intentionality and repentance regarding all of the divisions around the communion table. In this famous passage in the book of Galatians, we learn God’s plan for racial, social, and gender equality in the body of Christ, because everyone who has faith receives the full rights as sons, is baptized into Christ, and is valued equally in the church.
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. In your own words, define “stereotype.”
2. Have you ever personally experienced prejudice because of your race, social status, or gender? Where and how did this occur? How did you feel? How did you respond? Briefly explain.
3. Has there been a recent incident where you caught yourself judging someone because of their race, social status, or gender? Briefly explain.
4. Besides race, social status, and gender, what are some other ways that we tend to divide and categorize people?
5. In regards to ethnic diversity, how would you describe your personal experience at Vineyard Columbus? Have there been experiences that were uncomfortable for you? Briefly explain.
6. In his sermon, Rich talked about God’s plan for racial, social, and gender equality. Which of these three do you feel most passionate about? Why?
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? Briefly explain.
2. Read John 17:20-23
20 “My [Jesus] prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
• What is the setting of this passage? (see chapters 16 and 18)
• Who is Jesus praying for in this passage? (v. 20)
• What is it that Jesus is praying specifically for in this passage? What do you think it means to be “one” as Jesus prays to the Father, “just as you are in me and I am in you”? (v. 21)
• What do you think Jesus meant when he prayed, “May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me”? (v. 21)
• According to verse 22, what did Jesus give us? What is “glory”? (find other instances of the word in chapter 17) Why did Jesus give this to us? (vv. 22-23)
• According to verse 23, what is it that the world will know?
• Why do you think unity is such a powerful witness?
• According to this passage, what is the key to Christian unity?
3. In his sermon, Rich made the following statement:
“Almost everyone in the 21st century says that they want to build an inclusive church that welcomes people across races, has different classes, is open to folks to be used according to their gifts and not based on their gender, or their class. Most of the time, what I observe in people is that what they mean by welcoming is that other folks are welcome to join their church as long as they do things their way. ‘You can come, but don’t bring your culture. Don’t try to change us. We have a certain way of doing things here. You can come and worship with us; you can even come and join our groups, be part of our leadership, so long as you don’t make us change.’”
• Do you agree with Rich’s statement?
• Have you found this to be true in your own life?
• Is this true of your small group?
• Would you say that your small group is “intentional” about being an inclusive group? Why or why not?
• How might your small group be used by God to bring about racial, social, and gender equality?