Week 2— Discovering Barriers to Healing (John 5:1-17)

We studied the story of Jesus healing the paralytic then split into four groups to answer questions specific to each group.  After a period of discussion, we gathered back together and shared our thoughts as follows.  Read the Scripture passage above to better understand the responses.

The Narrator Group answered the following two questions: 

How do you think an outsider would see our church at this time?  An outsider would probably see us as a small church that is in need of leadership.  The might see us as broken because of what we have been through, and old church (perhaps that isn’t relevant?) filled with lost sheep)

How do we see ourselves and our role as a church? 
We are active in our community.  We host Meals-on-Wheels and the Open Door Nursery.


Questions for Additional Consideration of Narrator Responses:
Why do you think an outsider would see us this way?  Is this the way we see ourselves?  Do you have a different answer?

What leadership do we have today, and why do we feel we don’t have any? 
Can you identify current leadership and how to support it?

The group identified our activity in the community and specifically mentions MOW and ODN.  How would you describe our role as a church in the community?  Is there more happening that we are not seeing or recognizing, causing us to feel like we are “not enough”?

The Jesus Group answered these questions:

What do you see as the potential for health in this church? 
We are a God-based congregation with good potential to be a healthy church.

How would Jesus’ method for healing apply to our church? 
We need to “pick up our mat” and get it done.

Questions for Additional Consideration of “Jesus” Team Responses:

  • What signs of “potential” do you identify in our congregation? 

  • What does a “God-based” congregation look like?  What might be missing? 

  • What does “picking up our mat” look like?  How do we do that.  Identify the “mat” (what we need to pick up)

  • What does picking up your mat look like?  Where does God want you to move forward?

  • How do we “get it done”?  Identify specific areas and steps we could take.

 

The Paralytic Group answered the following two questions: 
What is paralysis?
  Not volunteering.  Inaction.  Frozen.  Lacking leadership.  Lack of direction.

For how long have we been paralyzed?   Three-plus years.

In what ways do we as a church feel paralyzed at this time?  Being unwilling to adjust to change.

 Questions for Additional Consideration of Paralytic Team Responses:

  • In what areas do you feel the church has a lack of direction?

  • Do you think there is a lack of volunteerism? 
    If so, why do you think that exists? 
    What can we do to encourage you and/or others to be involved?

  • In what areas do you think the church might be paralyzed, and why?

 The Jewish Leaders Group answered the following two questions:

In what ways do we want to keep the church the same and/or play by the same rules?
We want to keep the same fellowship we had.

We want to continue to be servants.

Of what do we have a hard time letting go?  Tradition.

 Questions for Additional Consideration of Jewish Leaders Team Responses:

  • Is it possible for a fellowship to stay the “same”?  What changes happen regularly?

  • Is it feasible to keep everything the same without examining what we are doing to determine its effectiveness?

Week 1—Discovering Our Hunger (Psalm 107:1-9)

Week 1—Discovering Our Hunger (Psalm 107:1-9)

After asking ourselves the questions provided at the beginning of the exercise, we wrote poems including our answers.  Then the groups shared their responses with all of us in response to what we hear about the church, what we notice about our feelings, and what we need to ask from God for this interim time. Click here to read the poems.

1.  First of all, we noted that participants were being honest and open, feeling as if they can express what they are feeling without fear of being rejected.  They admitted to being upset and feeling lost and having high emotions about the process.  They want change, but they want it NOW, frustrated with the process.  Our congregation includes realists and idealists, and we are trying to bring both camps together to find a common path. 

Questions for Additional Consideration:

  • What are your emotions at this time? 

  • If you are frustrated, is your frustration with the process (length of time, type of activities or seeming lack of activity, etc.) causing anxiety and, therefore, fear?

  • Do you feel comfortable expressing your concerns and ideas?  Why or why not? 

2.  Generally, the group expressed that we are choosing to remain positive and prayerful and choosing to be unwavering toward our goals.  We are looking for leadership and are accepting of it.  We are seeking guidance and direction, peace and joy, as we wait for God’s vision and patience as we wait for one another. 

Questions for Additional Consideration:

  • Toward which goals are we unwavering? 

  • Are we willing to compromise and/or adjust our focus? 

  • Which leadership are we accepting of, the leadership we will find with a new pastor, the leadership we have at this time, or both?

  • Could opening our minds to new possibilities lower our anxiety?

  • 3.  Finally, the group described our congregation as one based in servanthood and caring, supportive of the process and especially of the common good.  This makes us hopeful and positive.  We ask God for loving hearts, able to accept and understand one another, able to compromise, and able to forgive one another and ourselves.  We hope to be tolerant of one another and to have the strength, courage, and faith to speak to one another in love.  One person suggested that we are distracted by certain things and forget what is truly important to God.

  • Is there someone in the congregation (please don’t name out loud!) for whom you are intolerant or to whom you feel you cannot speak openly?  Pray for that person, for their needs, for their healing, for God’s blessing on them. 

  • Spend time in prayer, asking God what you can do to be a part of change and seeking to hear God’s voice and leading in your own heart.

  • Ask God to give you the clarity to express your thoughts in a manner that the other person can hear, and to help you hear what he or she is saying.  Ask God for the courage and faith to forgive, even if they he or she has not requested it.

  • Ask God to heal our anxiety and turn it into faith and love, for God, for one another, and for our community and world.