You’ll need one big sheet of paper, some drawing/art supplies, and whatever other fun, creative tools you deem necessary for the exercises.
Drawing Your Triangle
In week 1, we talked about how everything we are and have the potential to do in life depends on God’s love. We certainly can make a difference without knowing God’s love but the thing is, we’re destined to make a difference with God’s love. We gave the illustration of the “Great Triangle” where making a difference begins and ends.
Read Matthew 22:36-40:
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Now have each person draw a triangle. Do it in a journal, on a big sheet of paper, on pavement with sidewalk chalk, or on one of the blank pages of your Bible. At the top, write: “Love God.” On one side of the bottom, write: “Love Self.” On the other side at the bottom write: “Love neighbor.” Be as creative as you want to be.
Now think about or discuss this: When you’re struggling, where do you get out of balance? Do you forget “your first love”, love of God? Do you not believe that God loves you unconditionally? Do you say it’s true but not believe it deep down in your soul? Are you too self-interested sometimes? Or, do you not love yourself sometimes? Do you struggle with shame or self-doubt? Do you often overlook your neighbor, especially ones who could benefit from your companionship and friendship? Or, do you sometimes lose yourself in people-pleasing and trying to fix others?
Jesus shows us God’s love for us. He invites us to love God with our lives in return. He shows us how to love our neighbors as God has loved us.
Lean on Your Need for a Greater Power and See Yourself and Others in a Greater Story
Read 1 Corinthians 12:3-7
Therefore, I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Shepherd, Teacher
Read Ephesians 4:11
He gave some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers.
The writer of this letter—the letter to the Ephesians—describes five different kinds of gifts Jesus Christ gives to his followers so they can join him and each other in His mission. This tells us we’re not all made to be the same. In fact, we’re made to be different and to celebrate the different gifts we have and how we’re better together.
Look at the descriptions of each below and talk with each other or think to yourself about which gift(s) you may have. And don’t say you don’t have them! You do. You may not be fully aware of them yet! Parents, you may have to do some translation work if you’re doing this with younger kids.
Apostle (out): These people feel sent out to a mission, a mission field, to a disconnected people; they’re the explorers; the discovers; the visionaries; they’re the pioneers; they believe Jesus is alive in places where maybe others can’t see or believe it; they feel called to a people or place to start something new of Jesus or wake something up of Jesus. Bible examples: Ruth, Mary Magdalene (the only person mentioned in all four gospels as present at the tomb of Jesus), Paul or Peter.
Prophet (up): These folks get us to look back up to God in the midst of a world that is broken and unjust; they call us to turn and realign our hearts and lives with God’s heart and wishes; they’re the voices for the oppressed; they have hearts for the broken; they feel a need to speak up when a wrong or injustice is happening. Bible examples: the Old Testament Prophets like Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Amos, or Deborah; John the Baptist; James (of the letter “James”).
Evangelist (around): these people bring others around a good cause, a good experience, or the good news of Jesus; they are the gatherers, the connectors, the inviters; they get excited about good things and have the heart to share those good things with others; they want other people to know the goodness of Jesus’ good news, and they do so by listening, being on the lookout, building relationships, making the most of relationships, and sharing their story. Bible examples: the Samaritan woman (John 4), Phillip (Acts 8:26-40).
Shepherd (in): These people get in the valley or the pit with hurting people; they provide shelter in the storm; they’re the caregivers, the wounded healers, the fierce protectors, the companions; they feel called to help people find rest, comfort, healing in Christ. Bible examples: Ruth, the Good Samaritan.
Teacher (down): These people dig down into the mysteries and secrets of life to unearth treasures to show others; they’re miners for wisdom; they’re the searchers, the questioners, the communicators, the show-and-tell-ers; when it comes to the mysteries of God’s kingdom and the good news of Jesus, they just want people to know the life-giving stories, the rich wisdom, and the best things of God. Bible examples: Phillip (Acts 8:26-40).
Draw Your Circles for Inside-Out Living
Next to where you drew your triangle, draw a bullseye or concentric circles like this:
Say a prayer asking for the Holy Spirit’s guidance to help you complete this exercise.
Near the top of your circle and to the right, write “me and God” and draw an arrow pointing to the middle.
Underneath where you wrote “me and God”, write down the people you consider to be your immediate family or the people you live with or the people you are closest with. These are the people with whom you have the most interactions and over whom you have the most influence and vice versa. Draw an arrow pointing to the second circle.
Underneath that, write the names of family members you feel called to invest in, care for, pray for, share Jesus with, help, ask help of, walk alongside, stay connected with, reconnect with. These could be spouse, partner, children, adult siblings, parents, grandparents, grandchildren, cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, very close friends. This is your next level of relationship influence. After you write them down, draw an arrow to the next circle outside of immediate family.
Underneath that, write down the names of friends or connections you feel called to invest in, care for, pray for, share Jesus with, help, ask help of, walk alongside, stay connected with, reconnect with. This could be friends you’re close with or people you’re getting to know and sense a friendship is building. This could be your church family. Draw an arrow to the circle after other family and friends.
Write down places where you live, learn, work, and play and anyone who comes to mind in those spheres. For instance, you may write down your town or county where you live, work or go to church. You may write down restaurants or coffee shops you visit frequently or maybe the library. You might write down a non-profit organization or agency you feel called to work with or know more about. You might write down a cause that’s important to you. You may write down your school. Are there people or places God’s bringing to mind from those places you’re called to invest in, care for, pray for, share Jesus with, help, ask help of, walk alongside, stay connected with, reconnect with? Now draw an arrow to the last circle.
You can write down other people, places, organizations, causes anywhere that God puts on your heart. There’s no circle to attach them to. They are close to your circles but perhaps not directly in one.
These are your circles of relationships of influence. The categories and flow I’ve identified are just suggestions. Feel free to do them differently. This gives you a guide and boundaries for how to pray, how to spend your time, how to spend your energy, etc. Compare yours with others. Learn from each other. Don’t be offended if you didn’t get included ☺ This is a lot to think through.
Finally, ask yourself and each other, am I living inside out? Am I investing time and energy in the people, places, and causes to whom/which I am called? Or am I out of balance? Am I neglecting some of the inner circles? Am I overlooking the people nearby? On the other side of the coin, am I making it to the outside circles, or am I giving all my time to only “my people”?
Get to Know a Bit More About What Poverty Looks
One of the focus areas of our church is helping people who are struggling with poverty. Here are a few things to help you learn about what poverty and homelessness look like in our backyard and beyond. You can also learn about how to plug in with these organizations.
Did you know that there are many youth and young adults that struggle with homelessness in Johnson County? Learn more here:
There’s also an affordable housing crisis in Johnson County. Here’s where you can learn more about what homelessness looks like in Johnson County and a coordinated effort to address it:
Our church partners with an organization called Bridges Alliance of Johnson County, which is “a community collaboration to end poverty by providing proven tools, resources, support, and relationships to foster stability and independence.” On their website, they define something called “ALICE”, “a new way of defining and understanding the struggles of households that earn above the Federal Poverty Level, but not enough to afford a bare-bones household budget.” They also have a video which illustrates the concept of ALICE and how Bridges works. Check it out here.
Finally, MIT has a “living wage calculator” for every county in America. Check it out and see what it costs people to live across Indiana. You can also check out how that compares to the rest of the country.
Our church takes seriously that just because someone is struggling with finances or housing it does not mean they lack strengths. In fact, people who have been struggling with such things probably have strengths others do not. If you are struggling with a lack of resources and need help, please contact Pastor Ross at firstname.lastname@example.org. Ross would love to listen to you about your struggles and your strengths.
If you’re doing this exercise with kids, you can ask them a few questions. First, have they ever had a time when they felt different because they didn’t have what other kids have? How did that make them feel? Second, what can they do if they feel that way? Third, what can they do to help someone else who maybe feels that way? Listening deeply to their responses will help them feel cared for, and it will be a great learning opportunity for you. If you’re not sure how to respond, focusing on connection is a good place to start. If they feel different, who can they talk to? Who can help? If they notice someone else feeling that way, how can they be friendly to them?
Make Your Own Exercise
Maybe there’s an issue or a cause God has laid on your heart. Feel free to use this time to discuss the issue or cause with the family or friends you’re doing these exercises with. What information can you find? What praying can you do? What action steps can you take?
Close with a Blessing
Thanks for taking the time to practice together. We hope to be a church who follows Jesus in making a lasting, kingdom-of-heaven kind of impact around us. We’re thankful you’re joining us in that hope.
Have someone read Ephesians 3:17-19.
Leave a Comment
We’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment on the website or on the post on our Facebook page about which exercise(s) you loved, what you learned, and/or what next steps you’ve decided to take.