What are some innovations in the activities or schedules of your church that would be valuable in helping people hear God’s messages? If your students need something to jumpstart their thinking on this question, ask them what has been helpful from the past in allowing a Freshlook at the depths of God’s Word (examples: lake-side services, conferences, retreats). Some ideas they may suggest include moving the place or time of worship once a month, having the minister preaching on the steps of the church as people arrive, or showing appropriate clips of movies that illustrate secret sins.
2.What misconceptions. routines, slogans, and habits do people hold onto today that parallel the comfortable lies and behavior of the Jewish people in the text? How do today’s lies hamper the effectiveness of the church? What do we do to expose those lies?
As the church builds bridges into the surrounding culture, secular thinking can get into the church as a result. A two-way street is in-evitable in this regard. It is not uncommon to hear people at church repeating slogans they heard from movies and to see those slogans be-come part of their lives. The primary difficulty arises when these snippets of pop psychology lead people to trust in something other than God. Certain church traditions, which may have served valid purposes in the past, can become pointless routines at best and delusions at worst. People who find undue comfort in a saying, set-ting, or tradition place themselves in danger. Discuss how individuals as well as entire congregations can be lulled into spiritual sleep through false trust in these areas.
3. If God sent a specific message to Christians today, what list of sins do you think He would give to expose how people act one way in worship and another way the rest of the week? Put your students’ answers into two lists: a list of sins of commission (lying, stealing, murder, etc.) and the sins of omission (failing to help those in need, neglecting use of spiritual gifts, etc.). Include both the spiritual and social consequences in the discussion.
For those who live in consumer-driven democracies, a pointed discussion on covetousness (the Tenth Commandment) will be in order. Bring in some glossy ads from the Sunday paper and discuss how these entice people to want more. Discuss how covetousness ties with idolatry (Colossians 3:5).
4.In what ways could God refer to today’s church as a “den of robbers”? What can the church do to rectify this situation?
Methods of corruption exist today that did not exist in the first century AD. One example is a person who hands to the church treasurer a check made out to the church, then asks for a lesser amount in change-in order to claim on his or her income tax return the full amount of the check as an offering.
A second situations would be shady business leaders who attend church to give themselves an aura of respectability and to make business contacts. The result is to use the church in a way that God does not intend. A third possibility could be a church’s decision to pour its funds overwhelmingly into buildings and stained glass while the physical needs of the community’s poor are ignored. (There is nothing wrong with stained glass, but a certain balance is called for!)There are many other examples.
5.If you were asked to be a spiritual account-ability partner by another Christian, what steps would you take to help your friend ensure that his or her worship does not become an empty ritual?
An accountability partner should be good at both gentle encouragement and the ability to ask pointed questions. Some examples are, “How is your prayer life?” “How are you really doing in your private worship?” “What did you do yesterday to draw closer to God?” “In your responses, have you been less than fully open and honest on any of your answers?”
The accountability partner’s goals include celebrating growth, inquiring about weak spots, and helping one’s friend find ways to enhance his or her walk wills the Lord. Every class and church can encourage members to have such partners.