Connecting Your Heart to Others: Life Together Student Edition (Six Small Group Sessions on Fellowship)

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9780310253341: Connecting Your Heart to Others: Life Together Student Edition (Six Small Group Sessions on Fellowship)

IMAGINE a group of students sharing this goal—to know Jesus Christ deeper and to make him known to others! IMAGINE them doing as the disciples did—fellowshipping, growing, serving, sharing, and worshiping together! IMAGINE yourself in this kind of caring, committed community—revolutionizing your life and those in the group! The Life Together series is the beginning of a relational journey, from being a member of a group to being a vital part of an unbelievable spiritual community. These books will help you think, talk, dig deep, care, heal, share...and have the time of your life! Life...together! Connecting Your Hearts to Others’ affirms fresh and powerful ways to draw close to each other—and to God. This volume of the Life Together series focuses on the essence of fellowship, a value that is universally endorsed but pretty badly practiced. Six sessions in this book will lead to the opening of your heart in ways you never knew possible. But God did! Here are Christ’s ways—explained fully and interestingly—to achieve an amazing new sense of community! YOUTH LEADERS the Life Together series is a revolutionary small group resource that will change the lives of your students. Six related books overflow with Bible-based sessions to encourage and equip them. Check out the incredible Life Together DVD resources! Doug Fields and Brett Eastman share tips and approaches based on the books’ contents, and about communicating with kids. Also on each DVD are Bible teachings, directly related to passages in the books’ sessions, conducted by the most respected names in youth ministry—Doug Fields, Mike Yaconelli, Duffy Robbins, Efrem Smith, Helen Musick, and Marv Penner. 12 “conversations” with Doug and Brett, 12 detailed Bible teachings—these clips are invaluable resources for anyone seeking to share God's Word effectively to teenagers. Each DVD has almost three hours of the best small group teaching for youth you can imagine!

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About the Author:

Doug Fields has been a leader in youth ministry for over 30 years. In addition to being a youth pastor at two churches for 11 and 20 years, Doug is the founder of Simply Youth Ministry, the co-founder of Downloadyouthministry.com, the author of more than 50 books, and is currently working with Youth Specialties & Azusa Pacific University (HomeWord’s Center for Youth/Family). More information about Doug is available at www.dougfields.com.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

CONNECTING Your Heart to Others': 6 Small Group Sessions on Fellowship Copyright 2003 by Doug Fields and Lifetogether Youth Specialties Books, 300 South Pierce Street, El Cajon CA 92020, are published by Zondervan, 5300 Patterson Avenue Southeast, Grand Rapids MI 49530 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Fields, Doug, 1962- . Connecting your heart to others' : 6 small group sessions on fellowship/ by Doug Fields and Brett Eastman. p. cm. Summary: Provides exercises, readings, and other materials for a six-week spiritual journey toward understanding and celebrating the differences between individuals and connecting with people different from oneself. ISBN 0-310-25334-9 (pbk.) 1. Teenagers--Religious life--Juvenile literature. 2. Fellowship--Religious aspects--Christianity--Juvenile literature. 3. Toleration--Juvenile literature. [1. Teenagers--Religious life. 2. Christian life. 3. Interpersonal relations. 4. Fellowship. 5. Toleration.] I. Eastman, Brett, 1959- II. Title. BV4531.3.F54 2003 248.8'3--dc21 2003005870 Unless otherwise indicted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Version (North American Edition). Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any other - except brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher. Concept and portions of this curriculum are from Doing Life Together (Zondervan, 2002), used by permission from Brett& Dee Eastman, Karen Lee-Thorp and Denise& Todd Wendorff. Editorial and Art Direction: Rick Marschall Production Coordinator: Nicole Davis Edited: Vicki Newby Cover and interior design: Tyler Mattson, NomadicMedia.net Interior layouts, design management, production: Mark Rayburn, RayburnDesign.com Proofreading: Vicki Newby and Linnea Lagerquist Design Assistance: Katherine Spencer Production Assistance: Roni Meek, Amy Aecovalle Author photos: Brian Wiertzema and Art Zipple Printed in the United States of America 04 05 06 07 08 09 // 10 9 8 7 6 It seems pretty obvious that God's plan for the church is to have people connect with one another. That's the model of the early church that we read about in Acts 2. When God's power took over, people were connected together: sharing their possessions, eating together, meeting together, loving one another. What a great scene---and so soon after the resurrection of Jesus! That day was the beginning of the church, the church functioning as God designed it and as model for us. One sign of a healthy youth ministry is when many different groups of students (groups who wouldn't normally hang out together at school) connect. That's a great expression of the early church model. The church is God's design to bring people together. It's open to us all regardless of our pasts! I love it when churches reach students who don't look like they 'belong' at church. Their body-piercings, tattoos, and clothing styles may not fit the church youth group stereotypes, but that's okay. A lot of people in the Bible didn't fit and yet Jesus called them to follow him too. You're about to read Matthew 9 and see that Jesus connected with 'these types' even though the religious leaders didn't like it. As you go through this book, it's my prayer that you'll catch a vision of what a Christian can do when he or she is connected to other believers. You can sharpen one another and open wide the doors of your youth ministry to keep it from becoming a club, clique, or community of people who are just like you. As you begin the six-week journey discovering the biblical purpose of fellowship, it's important to realize that not everyone in your small group will be just like you. It may be weird at first, and you might think, 'I don't have anything in common with that person. I can't believe we're in the same group!' That's okay. Actually that's great news because you'll really get to see what God can do with all the differences. You're on the right path for a great experience. Let's get started. Connecting the Disconnected 21 Connecting the Disconnected Fellowship: CONNECTING Your Heart to Others' [goal: to have students share about their lives and listen attentively to others] Share something that makes you different from other people. If your group members already know each other well, share something that no one in the group knows about you. If you haven't discussed the Small Group Covenant on page 88, take time to read it together and discuss it now. You'll find a lot of emphasis in this book on honesty and deepening relationships, so the covenant points on confidentiality and respect are especially important. Make commitments to one another that your group time will reflect those values. You may want to have one person read the covenant to the group before you begin each lesson as a reminder. Use the Small Group Roster (page 90) to record the names and contact information of the small group members. Discipleship: GROWING to Be Like Jesus [goal: to explore God's Word, learn biblical knowledge, and make personal applications] You won't be surprised when I tell you no one is perfect. No one has it all together. Even you. Even the others in your group (though sometimes you might feel like you're the only one who's imperfect). Everyone has had disappointments, bad attitudes, and imperfections. If Satan had his way, we would be stuck in our failures with no hope. Unfortunately many people do get stuck. God's plan is different. We have hope because he loves us and wants us to be in a vibrant relationship with him---no matter how bad or unlovable we might be. He wants us connected relationally to other people too. Matthew had a lot of money and more enemies. Jesus connected with Matthew when no one else even liked him. People hated this guy so much 22 CONNECTING Your Heart to Others' Connecting the Disconnected 23 they even criticized Jesus for hanging out with him. Matthew was a Jewish tax collector for the Roman government. He was a sellout. The way he made money was to overtax his own people, pay the government some of the money, and pocket the rest. Matthew wasn't a guy who was good enough to get an appointment with Jesus, but Jesus treated him like he treated everyone. On one fateful day Matthew's life changed forever. 9As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector's booth. 'Follow me,' he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. 10While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and 'sinners' came and ate with him and his disciples. 11When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, 'Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?' 12On hearing this, Jesus said, 'It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.' ---Matthew 9:9-13 Terms that look like this are described in Learn a Little More near the end of the session. What does Matthew's occupation reveal about his character and his circumstances? What clues from the text might help answer this question? How would Matthew's life have changed when he decided to follow Jesus? The passage doesn't say why Matthew jumped at the chance to be with Jesus.

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