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A Contagious Community

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A Contagious Community

Acts 2:42-47

Opening-

A highly infectious, deadly virus from the central African rain forest has suddenly appeared in the suburbs of Washington D.C.  There is no known cure.  In a few days 90 percent of its victims are dead.  A secret military SWAT team of soldiers and scientists have been mobilized to stop the outbreak of this exotic “hot” viral contagion.

Introduction-

“About today’s lesson”

Say- All of you have a set of questions under the heading “about today’s lesson.”  As I open us up into our lesson today fill in the answers while listening.

Read Acts 2:38-41 (Pentecost- 49 days after the resurrection- total 50 days)

A good contagion- 3000 people caught it-

It gave life instead of taking it- The sick were healed- Those lost had been found

The contagion of Christian community is not something to be avoided or quarantined but rather sought after and celebrated.

This community could only become contagious by the way each individual respected and treated the other community members.  This kind of community comes when we let go of selfishness, pride, ego and personal preferences.

Barna- Most non-churched are looking for genuine community within churches

Transition-

“Identifying with the story”

Say- You have some questions in your book.  How would you answer these?

Rhetorical questions pointing them out to the group to be answered individually as they are asked but not out loud or for group discussion.

  1. What is the closest group you have ever been a part of?
    1. A Church group
    2. A group of co-workers
    3. A sports team or recreational group
    4. A therapy group
    5. My extended family
    6. A group of card playing friends
    7. A play cast or musical group
    8. Other ____________________________________________________
  2. What most helps you to feel close to people in a group?
    1. Being able to “be myself”
    2. Being able to laugh with people
    3. Trust-knowing confidences will be kept
    4. Seeing things in a similar way
    5. Having people in it who express their feelings openly
    6. Working on projects together
    7. Other ____________________________________________________
  3. If you had been around at the time of the church described in this passage, what would have most attracted you to it?
    1. Just having people to eat with me
    2. Their passion for the faith
    3. The commitment to help each other
    4. Being able to see miracles like that first hand
    5. Everything except the idea of having to share my possessions
    6. The excitement and the growth
    7. Other _____________________________________________________

Dramatic Illustration-

Blue paper and green paper 30’ away

Blue represents a Guest

Green represents a Regular Attender

How do we move people from blue to green

A person stands on the blue and is asked to step to the green without touching the floor

Place another sheet in the middle and ask to do the same

For a step to be effective it must be easy, obvious and strategic

One of the most effective ways for people to make a connection is through relationships

Relationships are developed in communities where people want to know each other, for some of us that means a life change- no longer just me and my inner circle

I believe in order for life change to take place something radical must occur in our life.

Something radical happened at Pentecost, and life change occured

Message- Acts 2:41-47

“Today’s session”

  1. Introduction (Question1 pointed out)
    1. The early church shared 3 things that created a contagious community- resources, life experiences and beliefs
  2. Shared Resources (Q2, Q3 pointed out)
    1. They didn’t give there left overs
    2. They didn’t give a comfortable amount
    3. They sold the things they needed most to give to those in need

                                                              i.      This doesn’t mean for us to today, but to give sacrificially

                                                            ii.      Share our time

                                                          iii.      Take time with people- young, old and bereaved

  1. Shared Life Experiences (Q4 pointed out)
    1. In peoples homes we see family pictures
    2. The environment that shapes them
    3. People are themselves in comfortable environments

                                                              i.      Why fear?  Of being hurt, rejected or disappointed

                                                            ii.      For a community to be redemptive, contagious, and life changing, it has to be one where people can safely tell their stories.

  1. Shared Beliefs (Q5 pointed out)
    1. The devoted themselves to the apostles teachings, prayer, fellowship and worship.
    2. It is what we share that makes us a group- resources, lives and beliefs.
  2. How do we create an atmosphere of contagious community?
    1. Get out of our circle of conversational comfort and enter the zone of the unknown.
    2. People who have done this have come to believe that…

                                                              i.      Personal preferences are worth losing

                                                            ii.      People are more important than comfort

                                                          iii.      The God they know is worth knowing

    1. Jesus walked across the cosmos to know us, try walking across the room to know them.

  1. Emphasize the “Life Change” Suggestions found in the goals section of the first part of the chapter.  

Discussion-

(If time permits, have groups answer questions in “today’s session” together)

“Life change lessons”

Group discussion Q1 & Q2

Group Prayer

Home Assignment- Learning from the story

A Contagious Community

Acts 2:42-47

“About today’s session”

  1. In Acts 2:41, how many people “caught the contagion” of Christian community in one day?  ___________________________________________________
  2. What are two ways the “contagion” of Christian community is different from other kinds of contagion?

___________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________

  1. What is the “short answer” to the question of why the community of Acts spread?

___________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________

“Identifying with the Story”

  1. What is the closest group you have ever been a part of?

a.       A Church group

b.      A group of co-workers

c.       A sports team or recreational group

d.      A therapy group

e.       My extended family

f.       A group of card playing friends

g.      A play cast or musical group

h.      Other ____________________________________________________

  1. What most helps you to feel close to people in a group?

a.       Being able to “be myself”

b.      Being able to laugh with people

c.       Trust-knowing confidences will be kept

d.      Seeing things in a similar way

e.       Having people in it who express their feelings openly

f.       Working on projects together

g.      Other ____________________________________________________

  1. If you had been around at the time of the church described in this passage, what would have most attracted you to it?

a.       Just having people to eat with me

b.      Their passion for the faith

c.       The commitment to help each other

d.      Being able to see miracles like that first hand

e.       Everything except the idea of having to share my possessions

f.       The excitement and the growth

g.      Other _____________________________________________________

“Today’s session”

1.  What three things did the church in the Book of Acts share that made them a contagious community?  _______________________________________________

      ________________________________________________________________

      ________________________________________________________________

2.   How was the way the early church gave to the needy different from how most churches give to the needy today?

3.   In response to human need, what else should we be sharing besides our money?

  1. What is it about being in a person’s home that helps us get to know that person better than we might in a church building or other social setting?

  1. To what four things did the church community in Acts devote themselves?

“Life change lessons”

1.      What brought about the unique lifestyle changes of these believers in the Book of Acts?

2.      What are three kinds of choices we need to make in order to have community that people found in this story in Acts?

“Learning from the Story”

What is the main barrier preventing you from experiencing the kind of contagious community described in this passage?

a.       I don’t have time for it

b.      I’m not sure I am ready to make the commitment

c.       It sounds a little scary

d.      I’m concerned that I’m not spiritual enough

e.       I haven’t had the opportunity

f.       I cant think of any real barriers

g.      Other ______________________________________________________

Life Changes

  1. Open your home to someone outside of your family this week.
  2. Sell something you own and give the money to someone in need.
  3. Identify the three most important beliefs you share with others in your faith community.

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