Session 1: The story of God’s mission

Outcomes (team members will):
  • Review God’s broad purposes of redemption in history as outlined in the Bible
  • Observe that God is the initiator and guide of the Bible story
  • Describe the centrality of Jesus Christ in God's plan
  • Express their feelings about the story that God is writing

Leader resources

  • God's Call to Mission (chapters 1-4), David Shenk. ISBN: 0-8361-3669-1.
  • When Helping Hurts (chapter 1), Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert. ISBN: 978-0-8024-5705-9.

Opening activity
  • In groups, team members work together to make a summary of the Bible story that they could tell in one minute.
    • What is the point of the story? What are the main themes, events?
    • Encourage them to stay away from “Christianese” and to tell the story using everyday language as much as they can.
  • Have each group share their version, and make a note of important themes on a whiteboard.
  • Discuss: “How can we summarize what God is doing in a sentence?” 
  • There could be various answers, but in this session we will focus on what Paul says in Colossians 1:20, that God, through Christ, is reconciling all things to Himself.

The story of reconciliation

  • Divide the Bible story into five sections: creation, separation, preparation, completion, perfection. Using a large pad of easel paper, have one sheet for each section.
  • Talk through each section, ask: “How do we see God at work reconciling all things to Himself?”
  • Some ideas for each section:
    • Creation (Genesis 1 and 2): 
      • Everything was good. 
      • Four key relationships were all connected in perfect harmony and intimacy: man–God, man–self, man–others, man–nature (When Helping Hurts)
      • We call this “shalom.” 
    • Separation (Genesis 3):
      • Disobedience separated people from God and all other relationships were broken.
      • Results were shame, chaos, fear, hiding, suffering, and death.
    • Preparation (Law and Prophets):
      • The promise of a Messiah who will restore all things.
      • The law gives a picture of actions that are pleasing to God.
      • The sacrificial system teaches the need for sacrifice and forgiveness.
      • The prophets call us to love God and not only right actions.
    • Completion (Gospel and Acts):
      • Jesus fulfilled the promises of the Old Testament.
      • Jesus restores our relationship with God, self, others, and creation, through His teaching, example, death, and resurrection. 
      • Jesus sends the church to continue His work of restoring all things to God through His name.
    • Perfection (Revelation 21):
      • The picture in Revelation 21 is one of all relationships restored to perfect shalom.
  • Review the following questions together:
    • Whose story is this?
      • Remind participants that it is not our story. We are joining His story. We don't control it, nor is it for us. It is for Him, from Him, and to Him.
      • To enter the story we must give up our own story.
    • What is the central event in the story?
      • Jesus!
      • He is the “author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2, NASB)! If we want to know what God is doing, we look at Jesus.
    • What words would you use to describe this story?
      • Encourage honest reflection on how the team members feel about this story.

Homework

  • Look for at least one example of broken relationships (God, self, others, creation) around you this week. 
  • Look for at least one example of God's reconciling work in your life or in others.

Preview

Next session we will talk about how to enter this story.
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