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At the Movies 2019

At the Movies: The Sandlot

At the Movies: The Sandlot


At the Movies is a series we do every year where we explore the Biblical truths, we find in Hollywood movies.  So, break out the popcorn.  It’s going to be an adventure!

  • What are you most thankful for in this season?



The Sandlot


Note to Leaders: Watching this video is optional, but it may help give context to people who have not seen the movie or were not able to be at church.

This week we looked at the movie The Sandlot.  It's a story from the early '60s about the new kid in town.  His last name immediately became his nickname in the movie - Smalls! 

  • Did you have a nickname placed on you growing up? How did that make you feel?

Have someone read Matthew 13:53-58.

All of us have faced a time we desperately wanted to be one of the insiders but realized we were still an outsider. We have all felt what it is like to be the new person at some point in our lives.

Belonging and having strong relationships are the things that matter most in life. You can accumulate cool things but if you don’t have someone to share them with, it really doesn’t matter.  God created us for relationships. It was his intention that we spend time with people and build relationships. His desire is for us to get along and show the love of Jesus to others. But many times, we sit around waiting on someone else to go first. We want someone else to be nice to us or to reach out to us first.

Have someone read Luke 6:31.

Jesus says don’t sit around waiting on someone to do something good for you. Instead, do good for someone else. “Do for others what you would like them to do for you.”  Smalls’ life changes because one kid named Benny takes time for him.

We’re all “Benny” to someone. I don’t care who are you, if you look around, there’s someone in your life who looks up to you. You have this great gift to give to others, to be a Benny and be nice to someone who is need of a friend. You just might change that person’s life for the better.

  • Who is someone in your life that you can be a “Benny” to, and how can you reach to that person this week?

Have someone read Matthew 25:40.

Out of all those hundreds of people in the crowd, Jesus reached out to this small guy with no friends. That simple invitation changed Zacchaeus’ life forever.

Zacchaeus was a tax collector for the despised Roman government that occupied Israel, and as such, Zacchaeus was an outcast.  Jesus’ decision to visit Zacchaeus’ house was a turning point in Zacchaeus’ life.  After spending time with Jesus, Zacchaeus commits to restore anything he’s wrongly taken as a tax collector and to give away a huge portion of his wealth.

It’s amazing what happens when we take the initiative and just reach out to someone and love them like Jesus loved people. It might be a lifeline of hope for them.

In tough times we see who our real friends are. You can have lots of people who say they are your friends, but when tough times come you get to see who shows up for you. Proverbs 18:24 says, “Someone with many companions may find themselves alone in difficult times. But then there is that true friend who is actually closer than a family member.”

  • Share a time you were in the midst of tough circumstances and someone showed up for you.

  • What holds you back from showing up when a friend is in need?

Have someone read Galatians 6:7.

What is the secret of great friendships?  It grows out of a simple principle that’s taught over and over again in the Bible. If you give just about a thimble full of friendship to others, you won’t get a lot back.  But if you give a barrel full of friendship, that’s what you usually get back in return.  You will always harvest what you plant.

Maybe you’ve felt at certain seasons in your life that you don’t even have one good friend, but that’s not true. You already have a good lifetime friend. Jesus loved you before you knew Him, and that’s why He gave His life for you.

  • Rate on a scale of 1 to 5 how strong your friendships are right now. Share one or two actions you can do this week to strengthen those relationships.

  • What seeds do you need to plant in life?

Have someone read John 15:13.

That is exactly what Jesus did for each of us. He is willing and ready to be your best friend for life! He’s willing to walk through this life with you every step of the way, through all the good times and even the bad times.  He will never, ever leave you, even when you’re having the worst day ever. No matter where you go, He will be with you, ready to help you in any circumstance!

People will let us down over the course of our lifetime and we will each experience times of loneliness. We can take heart and find true comfort in Jesus. He is always there.


  1. This week be the first to reach out in friendship. Text or call someone and make plans to meet up.

  2. Take time to reflect on your friendships and pray for God to show you areas you need to invest in and fears you might need to overcome to be a better friend.


Pair off and spend time praying for:

  • Courage to be seed planters who reach out and care for people as Jesus did.

  • Areas in your life where you really need a friend. Pray for God to bring you a Benny, to walk alongside you.

At the Movies: The Finest Hours

At the Movies: The Finest Hours


At the Movies is a series we do every year where we explore the Biblical truths we find in Hollywood movies. So, break out the popcorn. It’s going to be an adventure!

  • Share with the group who is the wisest person you know and why?



The Finest Hours


Note to Leaders: Watching this video is optional, but it may help give context to people who have not seen the movie or were not able to be at church.

On February 18, 1952, a massive storm splits the SS Pendleton in two, trapping more than 30 sailors inside the tanker’s sinking stern. Engineer Ray Sybert bravely takes charge to organize a strategy for his fellow survivors. With only a few hours before the tanker would sink, the Coast Guard Station tasks Petty Officer First Class Bernie Webber with saving the crew of the SS Pendleton, even though he has little hope that it could actually be done.

Although most of us will never face a situation like this at sea, we all have areas where the storms of life reveal the weakest part of our life, and things begin to break up.

Bernie and his men know that the outcome of their attempted rescue is anything but certain. In fact, at one-point Bernie reminds them of what’s known as the Coast Guard’s unofficial search and rescue motto: “You have to go out, you don’t have to come back.” 

That is the heart of God the Father for everyone whose life is sinking right now. God is mobilizing His people to go out and save them. He sees the pain and the desperation and is attempting to throw a sure lifeline.

Have someone read Psalm 18:16-19.

  • Share a time when you felt overwhelmed by circumstances that were beyond your control. How did you respond?

  • Have you ever offered aid to someone who was being overwhelmed by life? Share what actions you took to offer a rescuing hand.

We read in Psalm 18 that He rescues us because He delights in us. When anyone is willing to risk their lives to rescue someone else, it’s because they see the value in that person. Yet so many people don’t see themselves that way. Many of us fight feelings of being unwanted, feelings of rejection, the belief we are a lost cause. God sees us, loves us so much He sent His only Son to rescue and redeem us.

Have someone read Isaiah 63:9 and Galatians 1:4.

Have someone read Acts 13:36.

In the movie Bernie says, “not on my watch.” Bernie has this inherent sense of duty to the people in that sinking boat, the people in his life.

King David felt the sense of duty and calling to impact his own generation. It was his purpose. I believe that’s the call of God on all of our lives, and I think deep down inside we know it. That once we’re rescued, we now do whatever it takes to rescue others.

For many of us, God has already rescued us, and we all remember that incredible day when He saved us. But now God is challenging us to leave the safety of the shore to be a part of a rescue mission, to take risks relationally, spiritually, financially—to prayerfully to go after people who need a lifeline of hope offered to them.

  • What has been your greatest challenge along these lines? Have you felt inhibited, inadequate, or afraid to step up courageously, taking risks to help others in need?

  • How could you prepare yourself for future challenges when rescue missions inevitably come your way?

The truth is all of us have people in our lives who need rescuing. We have family members, co-workers, friends at school, neighbors, close friends who need to be rescued by the love, hope, and grace of Jesus. 

As followers of Jesus we should never stop searching for lost and hurting people because God never stopped searching for us. We love Him by loving those around us. That’s why our passion at Eastside is to pay the price, risk it all and do everything we can to rescue one more person. Sometimes that means choosing to lay down our personal agendas for God’s agenda.

Have someone read John 15:12-13.

  • Who in your life needs you to pursue them and offer them hope?

  • How can you orient yourself to serving others? How can you strengthen yourself to be more selfless?


  1. Identify one or two people in your life that need the hope of Jesus.

  2. Pray this week for those people and for God to show you ways of offering them hope. Pray for courage and wisdom, and make time to connect with them via text, phone, or meet for coffee.


Pair off and spend time praying for:

  • Storms and challenges you are facing and the wisdom you need to navigate and overcome them.

  • People in our lives who need someone to be a light, to offer them a lifeline.

At the Movies: The Greatest Showman

At the Movies: The Greatest Showman


At the Movies is a series we do every year where we explore the Biblical truths, we find in Hollywood movies.  So, break out the popcorn.  It’s going to be an adventure!

  • If you’ve ever been to the circus, share your favorite memory with the group.  If you haven’t, share about your favorite experience at another kind of show or performance.



The Greatest Showman


Note to Leaders: Watching this video is optional, but it may help give context to people who have not seen the movie or were not able to be at church.

The Greatest Showman is based on the story of legendary circus creator, PT Barnum.  Even as a young boy PT Barnum had visions and dreams about his future.  But like many of us, he didn’t always get encouragement from his family and others. They couldn’t see the kind of dreams and gifts that were developing inside of him even as a young boy.

  • What gift or dream do you have that others have failed to see or perhaps even discouraged?

Have someone read Matthew 13:53-58.

Barnum told Charity—his childhood and lifelong sweetheart—that even though she couldn’t see her own future, he could see it.  One of the takeaways from this movie is that no matter what others see or think about us, we need to accept who God made us to be. You are a child of the living God.  Let God’s vision determine your reality, not the world or what others say about you.

When God has given you a vision for who you are, and what you were created to be, live it!  Don’t let anyone shame you out of it or try to discourage you from pursuing it.

  • Share a vision or calling you feel God has give you.

  • How can you leverage the challenges you have faced to help you move forward with your dreams?

People even labeled Jesus when he was on earth.  They said “He’s just a carpenter.  He’s just a boy from Nazareth!”  They refused to believe in Him.  They were rejecting His purpose and who God made Him to be. 

Remember that when you are the one who is rejected and broken, there’s a lot of other rejected and broken people around you. As you discover your purpose and chase your dreams, you have the opportunity to help others find their purpose too.

When Barnum meets Charles Stratton, who would become General Tom Thumb in his show, he says, “They’re laughing anyway, kid.  Might as well get paid.”  Barnum missed the point and made a critical error.  People don’t really want money and fame, but deep down what we all long for is acceptance, to belong to something meaningful.  Money, fame, and power hasn’t ever come close to filling the void in anybody’s life and it won’t in yours.  Self-confidence, faith, family, a sense of belonging are the things that will.

  • Each of us has longings, things missing from our lives. If you feel comfortable, share what one thing you long for: acceptance? Faith? A sense of community.? Something else?

Have someone read Psalm 139:16.

Rick Warren, in his book Purpose Drive Life, says “God never does anything accidentally, and he never makes mistakes.  He has a reason for everything he creates.”

PT Barnum decided to use the pain of his rejection as fuel to give others an opportunity to have their uniqueness become their purpose.  We resonate with PT Barnum because he is a dreamer and his journey taps into the  desire for meaning and destiny that resides in each of us.

Have someone read Ephesians 2:10.

PT Barnum and his new group of misfits were about to discover that they could be used in a big way, but the opportunity would not come without opposition.  We all have defining moments in our lives, moments when the pain of rejection will either destroy us or propel us to redefine the labels and accept who we were created to be. 

Barnum valued the people on the fringes of society and brought them into a family.  He saw the gifts in them overlooked by others.  He gave them a platform for purposeful service that brought meaning not just to their own lives but to the lives of others as well.  He challenged the norm that said you can’t value or have meaningful relationships with people who are different from you.

Sometimes we think God couldn’t possibly use us, but He places people in our lives to speak truth and encourage us to pursue our God given dreams.

  • Who is someone in your life who saw something in you that had been overlooked by others  and cheered you on? What did that do for you?

When we read the Gospels, we see that is exactly what Jesus did, he called out the good in people.

P.T. Barnum’s troupe was made up of ‘freaks’ and ‘misfits’ who society rejected. The anthemic “This Is Me" is their declaration of defiance, their refusal to accept rejection and instead celebrate who they are. This song resonates with many of us, tapping into deep-seated feelings.

Have someone read Ephesians 4:11-16.

God created each of us uniquely and gave each of us gifts and passions that we can use to serve others.  Just like each part of our physical bodies has a different role to play so that we can be healthy and function well, each of us in the Church has a role to play so that the Church, the body of Christ, can function well. If God gave you a unique or unusual gift, you have the opportunity to use it to serve him and others.

What PT Barnum failed to realize is that there is something so much more valuable than money.  He needed something deeper that he would never get from accolades, accomplishment, or applause.  Ultimately, we’re all looking for a sense of belonging, for connection, community, and a family.

That’s our dream for everyone at Eastside.  Our unofficial motto is, “This Is for Everyone.”   Regardless of who we are or where we’ve been.  Regardless of age, background, ethnicity, lifestyle, politics, things we’ve done, or things done to us, we are a family.

It is an amazing thing to discover your purpose. We find freedom and direction when we confidently embrace the gifts God has given to us. The best of living in community is the opportunity to help others find their purpose too. It is so fulfilling to encourage someone to take those steps of faith and to trust God. 

  • Who could you encourage this week?  Who could you open up a door of opportunity for? 


  1. This week encourage someone in your life, tell them what you see in them and how they could make an impact on the world.

  2. Spend time praying and journaling about the labels and challenges you are struggling with. Pray that God would help you to see yourself the way He sees you.


Pair off and spend time praying for:

  • The dreams and longings each of us carry and the courage to pursue the purpose God has given each of us.

  • People in our lives who feel marginalized and labeled. Pray they would have willing hearts to what God has for them and that they would trust Him with their lives.

At the Movies: Wonder

At the Movies: Wonder


At the Movies is a series we do every year where we explore the Biblical truths, we find in Hollywood movies.  So, break out the popcorn.  It’s going to be an adventure!

  •  Share your favorite movie of 2018 and what impact the movie had on you.




Note to Leaders: Watching this video is optional, but it may help give context to people who have not seen the movie or were not able to be at church.

Wonder is the inspirational story of Auggie Pullman that shows us what it looks like to overcome fear and grow through challenges. Auggie was born with mandibulofacial dysostosis, leaving Auggie with severe facial deformities and the need to endure dozens of surgeries throughout the years to help him to breathe, to eat, to hear and to try to help him look a little more ordinary as well.

When faced with attending school for the first time, after years of homeschooling, he admits he is “totally and completely petrified.” For Auggie, the fear of people seeing him with his unusual facial features and scars causes him to reach for his mask.  That helmet has become his escape, his safe place, a security blanket.   He’s grown comfortable wearing a mask.

Maybe you have too. You grab your mask out of the fear that you will be rejected, so you don’t allow anyone to get close to you. You question your own appearance and so you belittle others somehow thinking it will make you feel better about yourself.  You come to church and want everyone to think you’ve got it all together. You end up concentrating on the exterior more than the interior. On the surface you look great, but you’d never want others to know of some of the struggles you experience and so, like Auggie you reach for the mask.  Hiding behind it helps you to escape, hide your pain, and carry on the illusion.

  • What fears or struggles in your life have you hiding behind a mask?

Have a volunteer read Psalm 139:13-14.

There is One who believes in you.  In fact, you were created in His image. 

He knows that the journey will be difficult, but like any loving parent, He knows what’s best for you. He may even ask you to take off your mask and depend solely on Him.

Have a volunteer read 2 Timothy 1:7.

When you are living a life empowered by God the Holy Spirit you discover that victory in your life isn’t something that’s behind you but in front of you.  The Apostle Paul writes in Philippians 3 “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what lies ahead of me I press on.” 

Fear should never be a stop sign for the plans God has for your life. Don’t let your fears determine your destiny.  That’s God’s job.

Take a risk.  Face your giant.  The greatest victory in your life is often on the other side of your greatest fear. But you have to take a step of faith through the fear.

  • Share a time you have faced your giant or taken a risk, trusting God would meet you with each step. How is your life different because you took action?

  • What is something you have been letting fear keep you from doing? What next step of faith can you take this week?

Have a volunteer read Hebrews 11:1-12:3. | Note: This is a longer than usual passage to read. You might want to break it up amongst different readers or make sure the person reading is comfortable with an extended selection.

When you feel alone in a new job or situation, when your phone doesn’t ring or your inbox consists only of spam and bills, remember what Auggie’s Dad told him, “You’re gonna feel alone, but you’re not.”

Auggie’s mom, played by Julia Roberts, says, “We all have marks on our face. This (heart) is the map that shows us where we are going. And this (face) is the map that shows us where we’ve been. And it’s never, ever ugly.” What she’s saying is your story is yours alone.  God gave it to you for a purpose. But there comes a point when you have to decide: will you just try and hide your scars, or will you allow them to tell a greater story?

  • Auggie had several people in his life, both family and new friends, cheering him on. Who is one of the people in your life, who inspire you and cheer you on? This week, text them or email them, telling them how meaningful they are to you.

Have a volunteer read 1 Samuel 16:7.

Thankfully, God has a way of changing the way we see ourselves, and the way we see others.

On the first day of school Auggie’s sister whispered in his ear, “If they stare…let them stare.  It’s tough to blend in when you were made to stand out.”

  • Where are you tempted to blend in instead of standing out? What keeps you from living to your fullest potential?

When this story began Auggie consistently hid behind a mask, but without the mask, he discovers that he is something special.  How about you?  Imagine the life you could live if you stopped trying to be someone else, if you embraced who God uniquely created you to be. We all have marks. We all have a past. But God can heal our past and can even use the most difficult things in our lives for God.  He is the one who can make all things new.

Have a volunteer read 2 Corinthians 5:17.

God doesn’t want to just forgive you. He wants to make you brand new. 

Towards the end of the movie Auggie says “Be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle.  And if you really want to see what people are, all you have to do is look.”

We all have insecurities and struggles, problems and weaknesses. We each have our own dark, pain-filled corners of our lives. And when we’re backed into one of those corners is when the simple kindness of another can pull us into the light. And God can use you to do the same in someone else’s life.

  • Who in your life, needs you to be that encourager? Text them a word of encouragement right now!


  1. Affirm someone in your life, share a verse that might encourage them.

  2. Spend time praying and journaling about the struggles and battles you are facing. Pray about where you want to see a better story in life and ask God for help in fighting for it.


Pair off and spend time praying for:

  • Courage to stand out and be an encouragement to people in our lives who need to know Jesus or need to be reminded of how much He loves them.

  • The areas in your own life where you have been hiding behind a mask and want to risk being vulnerable and letting people you care about see the real you.

At the Movies: Rudy

At the Movies: Rudy


At the Movies is a series we do every year where we explore the Biblical truths we find in Hollywood movies.  So break out the popcorn.  It’s going to be an adventure!




Rudy is an uplifting story of determination and courage, based on the true story of Rudy Reutigger.  Rudy’s story is for anyone who has ever dared to dream; dared to move beyond the status quo; dared to believe God for more and greater things in your life but found the path painful and difficult.

●     What accomplishment in your life are you most proud of?

Rudy grew up in a blue-collar family in Joliet, Illinois. He dreamed of wearing the Notre Dame uniform, despite his lack of athletic and academic aptitude.  His family and friends all worked in the local steel mill, and without the grades to get into college, he takes a job there after high school.

His brother, his teachers, and even his parents told him to let go of his dream.  Only his best friend Pete continued to believe in him when no one else did.  And then when Pete died, Rudy was faced with the decision that we have all faced at some point in our lives: would he become bitter or better; would he give up or press on; would he quit or keep dreaming?

  • What is one significant challenge you have had to overcome in your own life, and how has overcoming that challenge shaped the person you are today?

  • Who is someone in your life who needs you to believe in them?

Have a volunteer read James 1:2-3.

The word that probably best describes Rudy is “perseverance.”  James writes that it is the difficult times in our lives that grow our character, that we should take joy in those things because they cause us to grow.

This is the great irony of life.  We try to avoid pain wherever we can.  It’s why our medicine cabinets are full of Advil for headache pain, Bengay for joint pain, and cough syrup for throat pain.  Yet pain is always the pathway to growth.

We all want gain with out pain.  We all wish we could be fit without exercise, wise without learning, CEO without ever taking an entry-level job, but the truth is that there’s no gain physically, relationally, professionally, educationally, or (especially) spiritually without pain.  Even for Jesus, there was no resurrection Sunday without the blood stained cross of Good Friday.

Rudy took advantage of his acceptance to Holy Cross, a community college across the street from Notre Dame. He worked hard, studied hard, and became a groundskeeper at the Notre Dame football field just to be near it.Even though his application to Notre Dame was rejected again and again, he didn’t give up.

  • When is one time that perseverance has paid off for you?

  • Has there ever been a time that you persevered and didn’t achieve the result you hoped for?

  • What did these experiences teach you?

Have a volunteer read Isaiah 40:31.

There’s an old African proverb that says, “The problem with finding ivory, there’s always an elephant attached to it.”

Rudy gets accepted to Notre Dame, and through effort, drive and determination he manages to land on the practice team… where he becomes a tackling dummy for the rest of the time. And day after day he gets kicked, thrown, pushed, and bruised in practice.  But he keeps on as he waits and hopes for the opportunity to suit up and play in a game just once before he graduates.

All of us hate to wait, but many of us are in a season of waiting right now. We might dream of a loving relationship, well-adjusted kids, a better career, or finding meaning in life.  We’re tempted to leave our difficult marriage, explode at our kids, cut corners at work to get ahead, or seek meaning in all of the wrong places.

Rudy endeared himself to his team, showed up for practice after practice, took hit after hit, but he finally reached a breaking point.  He decided to quit the team when he didn’t make the cut to dress for the last game of his senior year.

  • Where in your life are you waiting for something to change? What has kept you from giving up?

Have a volunteer read Isaiah 40:31.

Rudy’s teammates go to bat for him with the coach.  They stick by him and help make his dream a reality.  There’s something powerful about others believing in your dream, speaking life into your dream, helping you achieve your dream.

  • Who in your life has been instrumental in helping you to achieve your dreams?

  • Who do you have in your life currently who you can rely on to support and encourage you?

  • How can this group help to support and encourage your dreams?


Rarely do we look back at our lives relieved that we had given up on something. More often we look back with regret at giving up too soon.

What is the thing in your life that if you give up on it now you’ll look back with regret?  Your marriage? Your family? Your job? A friend? Your sobriety? Your faith?

Right now (yes, right here in the middle of small group) pull out your phone and text someone you trust. Make sure it’s someone who is wise and who loves Jesus.  Tell him or her that you need to talk about something important and ask if he or she has time to get together within the next few days. Don’t wait until you get home and can talk yourself out of doing this. Send the text right now so that you can’t get out of it.

We were never meant to face life’s challenges alone.  Share how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking with this person and ask for help to persevere.