Friday, 26 February 2010

UCCF New Leader's Training Weekend 1

Last weekend I went away to Quinta Hall near Oswestry, Shropshire for a weekend of training in my new role as Christian Union Small Groups Leader. I just thought I would put a few thoughts and encouragements on here from what I learnt. This part will deal with the small group specific seminars...

God's Big Plan (Colossians 1:15-23)
- Christ created everything and everything was created for him (v16)
- through sin, we left God and became enemies (v21)
- now we are reconciled* (v22) because God bothered with the cross to reconcile us (v20)
- since we were created and bought back by Christ, we belong to him and want to live and speak for him
*reconciliation is being made right with God: we were alienated from Him but now have been brought back into a relationship with Him

Together in Christ (Ephesians 2:1-22)
- we are made as male and female, in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and with a purpose to be united in love (Genesis 2:24) - just as the Trinity (God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit) are as one (Deuteronomy 6:4)
- we were dead (v1-3) and away from God (v11-12) but have been rescued (v4-10) and brought back to God by His peace (v13-17)
- now we are built together in unity to make God's dwelling place as His family (v18-22)
- this dwelling places manifests as Christians collected in churches, groups and CUs

Being Missional (John 17:20-21)
- Jesus prays for all believers, and those who will become believers all through time, that they would come to know him (v21)
- therefore, he is praying for Christians to come to know him but also for them as they evangelise (tell people the 'good news' about Jesus) to help non-believers to come to know him also
- reasons to do this include:
- to glorify God (Ephesians 1:13-14)
- to show thankfulness for God's grace (Acts 15:6-11)
- obedience, leading to godliness (Matthew 28:16-20)
- to save people from their sins (Romans 1:16)

God's Word: The Bible (2 Timothy 3:14-17)
- God's thoughts and ways are higher than those of man, He provides for our needs (which include The Bible) and His word fulfills God's work and doesn't return empty (Isaiah 55:8-11)
- God spoke through the prophets and now reveals himself through Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:1-3)
- the same message throughout the whole Bible all points towards Jesus Christ (Luke 24:25-27)
- The Bible is God breathed, expressing the mind and will of God (v16)
- we have two ultimate aims for studying the Bible:
- making us wise for salvation (knowing how to receive eternal life) (v15)
- equipping us how to live and do what we need to do (v16)
- teaching us how to live
- rebuking us when we've gone wrong
- correcting us, telling us the right way
- training us in righteousness (being right with God)

Handling and Studying The Bible
- know where you're going
- good theology (study of God and His word) leads to good doxology (loving Him more)
- human nature is still the same as in Bible times and so, what God said then, applies to us now
- we must make an appropriate response to that
- avoid shortcuts
- observe: what does it say...who, where, to who, structure and content etc.
- interpret: look at its historical, political etc. contexts and also why it was written, what message its trying to make etc.
- apply: what does it mean to us, is it culturally applicable?
- Christians often disagree knowledge, background and maturity differences
- our sinful nature will naturally try and fight against the truth
- this can lead to division in the church
- disagreement isn't wrong!
- be humble in discussion
- keep the main thing the main thing (Jesus Christ!) and focus on the gospel
- find a common grace
- put godliness and character above being right
- dig around underlying problems in possible

Why bother?
- back to Colossians 1:15-23, we were enemies of God but have become reconciled with God
- we can be clothed in Christ's righteousness, presented as a bride rather than an enemy
- this can only happen if we continue in our faith, holding onto the gospel and trusting in God's grace

The best quote I got from these sessions was this, expressed great by the song following it:

There is more grace in Jesus Christ than sin in me!