To Salt or Not to Salt – Provide two bowls of popcorn (or peanuts) for your group – one salted and one unsalted. But don’t tell your group the difference. Allow people to help themselves and munch on the snacks at their leisure. Later, ask participants which bowl of snacks they liked better and why. Discuss how salt brings out the flavor in foods and makes them more appetizing. Have group members share whether their current lifestyle is more like the salty bowl of snacks or the unsalted bowl and why.
Light in a Dark World – The leader will need enough flashlights for each person in their group, as well as a simple children’s puzzle (25-50 pieces in size). The leader will also need to prepare the room for the activity so it can be completely darkened (make sure blinds are closed, night lights are taken out, etc.) Tell your group that their job is to put together the puzzle as quickly as they can by working together. (If your group is large, split them into smaller groups and have multiple puzzles.) As the teams begin working, the leader suddenly shuts off the lights. Encourage the groups to continue working in the dark. After a minute, the leader can turn on their flashlight and walk around to the different groups. The leader then slowly begins handing out a flashlight to different people in the room until everyone has a flashlight and each group completes their puzzle. Afterwards, discuss how difficult it was to accomplish anything in the dark room (which symbolizes our dark and sinful world). Talk about how even just one flashlight being turned on helped a bit, but the more lights that were turned on, the easier it became. Have group members share how this activity gave them a new perspective on their role as being a light in a dark world. (Bonus: Consider buying cheap flashlights at the dollar store and allowing each participant to keep their flashlight as a reminder to be a light.)
Considering the “Adventure Race” devotional, did you have someone help you navigate your Christian walk after first becoming a believer? Share your experience. If you didn’t have someone, how did that impact your Christian journey?
1. Consider the bulletin insert that describes components of the Pathway. Which component stood out to you and why?
• (Intent: The components are invest & invite, experience, rooted, community, equip, ministry, and multiply.)
Read the sermon text, Matthew 5:13-16.
2. Verse 13 metaphorically refers to the Christian witness as salt. How is it possible for “salt” to lose its saltiness? Asked another way, how do we maintain our distinctiveness and yet relate to the culture and world around us?
• (Intent: Salt, sodium chloride, is always salt. It could only loose its effects -- preservation and seasoning -- by becoming diluted or comingled with something else. Metaphorically, we as Christians can reduce our witness by embracing or comingling our faith with the world’s values and actions. Also see Col. 4:6 and Mark 9:50 which connect salt with grace and peace.
3. What does Jesus mean when He says that believers are the “light of the world?”
4. Jesus tells us to shine in a manner that our good works will be seen by others. Jesus wants them to have a certain reaction. What is it? How can you help ensure that the glory goes to the Lord rather than to you?
• (Intent: Give glory to your heavenly Father. Truly loving others includes using our gifts to invest in others. Our motive should be to draw attention to the Lord, not ourselves. Ask the Lord to purify your motives. This requires an ongoing personal connection to Him.)
Let’s ask God’s forgiveness for the ministering opportunities we’ve let pass by.
Let’s ask God to show us how to invest and invite people we encounter everyday.
Think through and share an approach you might want to use to move others toward knowing Jesus. In other words, how might you invest in them and invite them to follow the Lord? How would that approach differ for neighbors, family, and coworkers?
• (Intent: It helps to have an idea of how you might engage someone, perhaps by first connecting better with them by sharing a meal or other experience. Remind your group that we must demonstrate true care for the person through asking questions, being interested in their responses, helping fulfill their physical and emotional needs, etc.)
REAL LIFE BETHEL EXAMPLES OF INVEST AND INVITE
The following testimonies are short but serve to highlight the possibility of what can happen when we step out and just invest/invite
NOT THE TYPICAL CHRISTIAN MOM
• As a mom of five who loves CrossFit, I’ve often struggled with the tension the sport requires of me while maintaining balance in other areas of my life. I’ve felt guilty about not being a “typical” Christian mom. The prayer of my heart has been that I would use my hours in the gym to encourage others and point them to Jesus. In the last year these prayers have been answered in countless conversations, but specifically in the life of another woman I have been able to mentor and invite to Bible Study. In the past she would have said that she was a Christian, but now she actually knows what it means to be a Christian. She’s reading her Bible and taking steps to follow Jesus with all of her life.
DOG PARK AND DIVINE APPOINTMENTS
• As newcomers to the area, and having a large dog confined to a much smaller yard than she'd heretofore known, we found ourselves visiting a local dog park at least once a day as we settled in. It wasn't long before we knew nearly every dog by name, though for a long time their owners were simply an extension, like "Clara's mom" or "Dudley's dad." Eventually we made a number of new friends we have come to cherish.
Recently one of the couples began asking questions about Bethel, knowing that we called it our church home. It seemed so natural to ask them to join us for Easter services. The response was immediate: oh yes! And so that Easter Sunday we met up in the lobby, making our way to what was to become an appointment with the Divine.
From the moment the service began, my friend Leanne (not her real name) began crying. She reached over at one point and put her arm through mine. Her tears flowed more freely as the service continued and I held her close, knowing beyond a doubt that the Lord was touching her heart in a way that was undeniable. By the time the vocalist began "Death Was Arrested," Leanne was singing a song she didn't know, crying and full of joy. I felt as though I stood upon holy ground.
There will be more to this story in days to come, of that I'm certain. But a simple "Would you like to join us?" became for me a powerful affirmation of the reason to invest in people's lives for a time such as this.
Sometimes it’s the simple engagement of those around you that makes all the difference. Why not reach out to someone today and invite them to a conversation over coffee, an event at Bethel or to church on Sunday. You too have been strategically placed. Don’t let the opportunities that abound around you pass by.
(1) How are you investing in personal relationships and who among them do you need to invite?
Here are some events coming up at Bethel that might be worth inviting people to: click here