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Love Where You Are Week 2: People Matter

Love Where You Are Week 2: People Matter

Note to leaders: We are trying a new format for this series. Each week we will be providing a series of questions. If you have feedback, we would love to hear from you. Email Thanks!


Love Where You Are


It may seem random, but God actually placed you exactly where you’re supposed to be — to make a difference with people you are around every day! It's time to love where you are and get excited about all the good you can do influencing your family, workplace, and neighborhoods for God!

  •  What were some of the rules in place in the home you grew up in?


People Matter


This past weekend we were in the second part of our Love Where You Live series. Imagine what the world would be like if we focused on two things – love God and love your neighbor. There are so many moments painted for us in the pages of scripture that demonstrate the idea that people matter. No one lived this better than Jesus.

  1. Have you ever written out a priority list for your family? If so, what’s on it? Why is it important for a family to clearly understand these priorities? What happens if they don’t?

  2. Have someone read Matthew 22:34-38. In Matthew 22, the Pharisees approached Jesus with a question meant to test and trap Him. In His response, Jesus gave us what is known as the Great Commandment, the teaching upon which all of the Law and the Prophets depend.

The Pharisees expected Jesus to fold under the weight of all the 613 commands in the Law. Instead of buckling under the pressure, Jesus responded immediately by identifying the most important law. Part of His answer comes from the passage in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 known as the Shema, which means “hear” or “listen.” Every faithful, practicing Jew would repeat this twice a day, and it signified giving themselves fully- their heart, their soul, their mind over to God.

3. What makes loving God the greatest command?

4. The Great Commandment emphasizes loving God with all your heart, soul, and might. What do each of those aspects of a person’s being represent?

Ask a volunteer to read Matthew 22:39-40. Again, Jesus took a command from the Old Testament, this time from Leviticus 19:18, “Do not take revenge or bear a grudge against members of your community but love your neighbor as yourself; I am Yahweh.

5. Who would Jesus say is your “neighbor”? What does it mean to love another person “as yourself”?

6. Read Matthew 25:31-40, where days before Jesus was about to die on the cross he’s teaching, and he talks about the end. Imagine a world where people were at times critical of us because of what we believed, became envious because of how we loved.

Just like Mark, who we heard from in the video, it may be a simple step of faith that shows your neighbor, your barber, your son, your daughter that they matter, and God loves them. Who comes to mind that needs that type of love and what one step could you take?



Landon challenged us to ask ourselves “what does love require of me?”

Share what most frequently stands in the way of you truly loving others? What are some tangible expressions of this kind of love you might practice this week: At your workplace? In your home? With your friends?

Share who you could give one of the ‘what love requires’ cards this week?


Break into groups of 2-3 and pray for the people that came to your mind. Pray that you would live out each day loving God and loving others. Pray for courage to hand out cards to those in your life that need to know they matter to God.

Love Where You Are Week 1: Love Where You Live

Love Where You Are Week 1: Love Where You Live

Note to leaders: We are trying a new format for this series. Each week we will be providing a series of questions. If you have feedback, we would love to hear from you. Email Thanks!


Love Where You Are


It may seem random, but God actually placed you exactly where you’re supposed to be — to make a difference with people you are around every day! It's time to love where you are and get excited about all the good you can do influencing your family, workplace, and neighborhoods for God!

  • What does family look like for you?


Love Where You Live


This week’s message focused on family…step family, blended family, divorced family, single-parent family, nuclear family, dysfunctional family. Romans 12 was the basis for this week’s message, with the goal to help us love the people where we live.

  1. Have someone read Romans 12:9-10. How does that play out in a family?

  2. Have someone read Psalms 39:4. Most of us are living at a pace that is unsustainable. We live in a world where the attitude is do more, accomplish more, and conquer more. What could you do to realign your schedule with your values?

  3. Regardless of your marital status, discuss ways to establish God-honoring values in your home. What are important guardrails for you and your family?

  4. Have someone read Galatians 5:22-23. Discuss how similar the characteristics in Romans 12 mirror the fruit of the spirit.

  5. Gene shared three simple ways to communicate love for each other with genuine affection in a family. You do it with a look, a word, and a touch. Are any of these difficult for you? What one is most meaningful for you to receive? How does your family upbringing influence your behavior today?

  6. How we were raised influences us as adults. Share if and how your family incorporated those three methods. If they didn’t, share how that impacted you.

  7. Romans 12:10 says to “outdo one another in honor.” The word “honor” literally means to “attach a high price tag’ to someone.” What image do you get when you think of outdoing one another with honor?

  8. What are a few ways you can show unconditional love to someone this week?



What is one thing you discussed today that you want to implement this week with your family?

Who is someone in your life that you could show honor and value to this week?


Break into groups of 2-3 and pray that He would aid you to love the people in your life and honor them in your words and actions this week.  

ATypical Week 3: A-Typical Decision

ATypical Week 3: A-Typical Decision




  • What is your first memory of spending money? What did you buy?


A-Typical Decision


This week Gene shared the importance of decisions, particularly in the area of finances. The big idea of this series has been “If you want what typical people have financially, then do what typical people do. But if you want what few people have financially, then do what few people do.”

Have someone read Mark 12:41-44.

Jesus was in the temple treasury area, and He sat on the wall opposite where the offerings were being deposited.

People were giving gifts, and the wealthy people were giving large gifts because it was Passover, the holiday commemorating the time the angel of death had passed over the homes of their ancestors in Egypt.

The word for “watched” means he watched with a “discerning eye.” He was basically telling His disciples who were with him, “Let’s people-watch here for a bit. Let’s watch people give and observe how generous they are.”

Have someone read Matthew 6:1-4.

In Mark 12, we aren't privy to all the details, but perhaps the disciples were watching someone put in a considerable amount, listening to the clang of all the coins. Jesus is looking elsewhere, watching a widow who walks in and gives two tiny coins. In verse 43, Jesus states she has given more than all the others. We can only imagine the disciples doing the math in their head, thinking, How is that possible?

Jesus says the widow gave out of her poverty, all she had to live on. Jesus used this story to teach His disciples something so crucial about finances, one of the most important principles we will ever learn. The a-typical financial principle Jesus is teaching here is that God measures generosity based on a percentage, not an amount.

Whatever you decide to give, God knows what percentage of your income you give. God measures our generosity on percentage, not pure amount.

  • Why is tithing such a difficult act of obedience to follow?

In his message, Gene explained that the starting place for percentage-giving for all followers of Jesus is the tithe, meaning 10%. Tithing is not really giving; it’s returning to God what is already His. God is looking for sacrifice when we give. King David said, “I will not sacrifice to God that which costs me nothing.”

  • Does viewing all your own as God’s change how you handle your possessions and finances?

Have someone read Proverbs 3:9-10 and Malachi 3:6-10.

  • What are the first fruits, and why are we called to give them to God?

  • How does tithing demonstrate we honor God and trust in Him?

Even now, in your small group discussion, some of you might be saying tithing is an Old Testament thing and is not specifically mentioned or encouraged in the New Testament. Gene laid out several passages to consider.

For instance, Jesus Himself said in Matthew 23:23, "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill, and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy, and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter without neglecting the former." (NIV)

This weekend we heard Brett and Jacqueline Jackson share a bit of their financial journey. Our stories are powerful. When we share how God is working in our lives, it creates space for God to work in other’s lives.

Tithing is often a difficult topic for us. Money in general and how we handle it is seen as a topic to avoid. When we open up to people we trust and who care about us, we are letting light shine into our circumstances. When we share our struggles and fears, we find encouragement for our journey. In small groups we can cheer each other on, celebrating the steps we take toward following Jesus in every area of life.

  • If you are comfortable, share what your own journey with tithing has been. Have you had bumps in the road? Have you seen God’s blessing in your life?

We have seen how God has blessed Eastside by bringing many people here to hear the Gospel, yet so many in our communities have yet to hear about Him. We are called as a church to reach our towns and cities for Jesus Christ. Supporting a charitable cause financially is a new step for many of us. Imagine what kind of impact it could make in the world if all of us did this and practiced percentage giving.

It’s typical to assume that if we give, especially if we give first fruits, we might not have enough left over for ourselves. We are tempted to be anxious, scared, and hold on tight to those first fruits. But making the a-typical decision to step out in faith invites God to bless our financial situations, and places us in a position to grow in our relationship with Him. Taking steps of faith regarding things we know are God’s will opens a door to immense personal growth.

It is an exciting time at Eastside. Much of what God wants to do in our church is going to be based on many of us making an a-typical decision to invest in stuff God cares about.



How can you be a-typical in how you steward what God has blessed you with financially?

If you haven’t done this yet, please take time to prayerfully consider the challenge Gene presented:

  • Acknowledge everything I have belongs to God. It’s all His and I’m just a manager.

  • Commit to faithfully tithing. This will be a big act of faith.

  • Some of you already tithe faithfully, you might even have recurring giving set up. You might want to commit to give generously beyond the tithe.

Take the card and put it somewhere you will see and be reminded to pray about each day.


Break into groups of 2-3 and pray that He would help you and others trust Him in this area that’s hard for so many people.

ATypical: A-typical Generosity

ATypical: A-typical Generosity




  • Share one thing you are looking forward to doing this summer.


A-typical Generosity


Last week Gene entrusted us with an envelope of his money to carry this week.

  • What did you do with the envelope this week? How did it make you feel to have Gene trust you with his money?

Gene designed this exercise because he wants us to feel the tension of carrying someone else’s money. The truth is, we carry someone else’s money every day. After all, the money we have is not really our money; it’s God’s money. We have a spiritual relationship with God that involves every aspect of our lives.

Have someone read I Chronicles 29:10-12.

If you continue reading the chapter, you’ll notice that King David repeats that everything we own belongs to God. God chose Solomon to build the temple though he was young and inexperienced. David gathered all the resources Solomon would need to build a house for the Lord. David took delight in being a part of it, in having something to do with the Lord’s house that Solomon would build.

Gene led an exercise where we clenched our fists and then released them. We often hold on tightly to our finances, fearful of losing control. But the tighter we clench, the more tense we get.

  • On a scale of 1-10, how tight are your fists in regard to your finances? In what areas are they the tightest? (Income? Possessions? Generosity? etc.)

  • How might a tight-fist mentality affect your relationships with others?

The funny thing is that when we let go and open our hands, everything changes. This is the most liberating, peace-filled move you can ever make financially in your life. The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines generous as being “open handed, marked by abundance or ample proportions and characterized by a noble or kindly spirit.”

Have someone read Matthew 29:1-11.

It’s absurd that the God who owns everything, would ever ask us for anything. The story of the triumphal entry of Jesus on Palm Sunday highlights one man’s generosity. Long before that day came, God had already touched the heart of some random donkey owner. God doesn’t need us, for He can do anything on His own, yet He chooses to work through us.

It is also absurd that Jesus rode into town on the generosity of ordinary people. In that moment, He was demonstrating that in the eyes of God, it’s the ordinary person that can give extraordinarily to the purposes of God.

When Jesus arrived in Jerusalem, it says that the whole city was stirred. Here at Eastside that is our desire as well. We want people in our communities to feel their hearts stirred for Jesus.

  • Share a time when your heart was stirred for Jesus.

It’s absurd that our generosity writes us into the story of God.

Our greed writes us out of the story of God, but our generosity writes us into the story of God. It’s those little acts of responsiveness to God’s promptings in our lives that write us into the story of God. The Bible is filled with everyday people who were invited into God’s story. We read about a little kid who had not much—only a sack with 5 loaves and 2 fishes—that somehow expanded to feed 5000 people.

Have someone read Zechariah 9:9.

500 years before this, God had promised through Zechriah’s prophecy that the king who would be their salvation was going to come riding on a donkey. 500 years later one man’s generosity was a part of fulfilling God’s destiny. God doesn’t need us, yet time after time He invites us in. And if we are attentive and willing, we get to be a part of His story. We just need to be available.

  • Share a time, where you were willing, available and were given an opportunity to be part of God’s story.

Finally, it’s absurd that the man got his donkey back. If you get absurd and become generous to God, you get it back.

Is something blocking you from being generous? What do you think about it?

Have someone read 2 Corinthians 9:10-11.

The most important first step you can take is to be intentional with your giving. Making your generosity a habit is critical to growing in this area. 

The Bible says when we are generous, we are storing up treasure in heaven. When you give something away, you’re actually opening up a doorway in which you can get back something more.



Share one way you can build more generosity in your life this week.


Spend time thanking God for inviting us into His Story. Ask Him to help you be more like Him. If anything is keeping you from being truly generous, ask for His help in overcoming that, for Him to show you the beauty and joy in opening your hands wide, in taking opportunities to share what He has given you. Pray for your friends and community, that their hearts would be stirred for Jesus and that people find the hope and purpose that only Jesus can bring.

Ihope: Hope In the Dark

Ihope: Hope In the Dark

Note to leaders:

The spring semester ends on April 28th, and the summer semester will run June 2-July 28th.   Consequently, there will be no further sermon discussion guides produced until the summer semester begins. However, if your group has been using them and is meeting during the break, here are a couple of short studies you can use in the interim.

Also, we have opened up group registration for the summer semester, so if you know what your group will be doing or have plans to start a new group, you can go ahead and register it now.




  • Last week we shared our favorite Easter tradition as a child. What about this Easter? Is this season unique for you in any way? How?


Hope In the Dark


You probably had it all planned in your mind how life was going to go. You hoped for the perfect house, the ideal spouse, the perfect 2.3 kids, the perfect job. No one grows up thinking that disappointment or heartbreak will consume them.

Some of you find yourself today in the dark; in financial darkness, health darkness, family darkness, mental darkness, marriage darkness, career darkness. You are wondering if God is good when life is not.

  • Is there a day in your life you remember discovering that life wasn’t turning out quite the way you’d hoped it would?

The story of Easter is not a one-day story or a two-day story, but the story of Easter is a three-day story. It’s Friday, Saturday, and Sunday; beginning, middle, and end.  It’s trouble, silence, victory. It’s death, burial, resurrection.

Gene used three words to describe it: Distress, Darkness, Deliverance.

Good Friday had left the followers of Jesus shocked, angry, afraid, and confused. As they witnessed Jesus breathe His last breath, all their hopes and dreams died with Him. Just as yours would have if you had been eyewitnesses to what they had seen and experienced during the past three years with Jesus.

If Good Friday was a day of distress. Saturday was a day of darkness for all who knew and loved Him. Saturday was the day when hope was dead, and life was dark.

When people lose their hope, they lose their ability to dream for the future.

  • What has you feeling like you are in the dark in some area of your life today?

  • Where do you typically turn in times of great trouble? What does that indicate about your ultimate hope?

There are three causes to our darkness that cause us to lose hope. Our past, our present, and our future. Every one of us is wrestling to one degree or another with failure from our past. It is the guilt, regret, and shame that keeps us in the dark. The things we wished we hadn't said, the disappointment of a wrong choice—all of these things can consume us at times.

For some it’s the wounds of the past, the unspeakable things someone did to you verbally, emotionally, physically, sexually that have endlessly complicated your life.

Others have worked through their past but are done in by current challenging circumstances.

For others, it is a fear of the future, what lies ahead. Fear of death is the number two fear of most people, yet it is certain all of us will face it someday. The unknown and uncertainty of what lies ahead keep us from embracing the hope God has for us.

Have someone read Luke 24:1-7.

Jesus had told his followers and predicted this three-day story. He said to them that He would rise on the third day. When He said that, they had no idea what He was talking about. Imagine having followed Jesus, being front row to His miracles and sermons. Imagine doing life with Jesus, and then it comes to a horrible end that day on a cross. At that moment, none of it made sense.

Have someone read Luke 9:22

Did they remember He had told them? We don’t know but in the midst of darkness, it didn’t seem possible to them. Some of you are waiting for your three-day story, searching desperately for hope amid life's challenges. You can find hope in the message of Easter where God does some of His best work in the dark!

Have someone read Psalms 53:6

In great distress, David turned to his hope that God would deliver His people.

  • How might you submit to God, seeking to trust His faithfulness to you?

Easter Sunday morning hope broke through the darkness in the form of the risen Son of God. Whatever you are facing today, Jesus has a promise for you.

Have someone read John 8:12.

You can have light in your darkness. All you have to do is follow Jesus. Even in our challenging times, we can find hope because of Jesus.

  • Share a time you were facing a difficult situation, but God gave you hope in the midst of it.

Have someone read Acts 2:37-38

One the day of Pentecost, Peter addressed the crowd that had gathered. He quoted Joel and David, showing how this all foretold of Jesus’ coming. He called them to follow Jesus.



Is there anyone in your life right now who needs to hear a word of hope? What is the best way for you to offer that to them this week?

Spend time this week journaling and praying over the situations you shared. Pray God would bring you hope in the midst of darkness.


Break into pairs and spend time praying for each other. Spend time thanking Him for the living hope Easter. Pray that just as He brought life from death in His own body, He would bring life and hope to the specific situations your group mentioned.

Modgnik Week 6: King On A Cross

Modgnik Week 6: King On A Cross


MODGNIK... what do we know about it? It's one of the great mysteries of historic Christianity. It's an entirely upside-down way to understand God. It's confusing, yet beautifully simple. But don't worry, all will be revealed about this new series at Eastside!

  • Share your favorite Easter tradition as a child.


King On A Cross


The people of Jesus’ day were looking for the Kingdom of God to come. They were expectantly looking for a powerful king. They were longing for a political messiah, a strong military conqueror who would come to squash Rome — but instead in this kingdom, we find a king on a cross.

Jesus announced to a group of hopeful followers who had those expectations: “ ‘And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.’ He said this to indicate how he was going to die.” (John 12:32-33 NLT)

He was talking about a cross. He was talking about laying down His life, taking the punishment for the sins of the world. What kind of king does that? Our King.

  • Reflect on John 12:32-33. What is upside down here? What do you understand, and what doesn’t make sense?

Have someone read Psalm 22:1, 7-8, 16-18.

David wrote about Jesus crucifixion. He began with Jesus' words that would be uttered thousands of years later from the cross. In the Bible, there are over 300 detailed prophecies about the messiah, and Jesus fulfilled all of them.

Think about if you were in Jesus' shoes and you knew that you would experience rejection, torture, and death. Wouldn't you be tempted to choose another path?

Yet Jesus kept on moving toward His purpose. He tells His disciples, His closest friends, what is going to happen to Him. Peter blurts out “There’s no way that should happen to you, Jesus!

Have someone read Matthew 16:23.

We aren't facing death, but many of us will face opposition or ridicule for our faith in Jesus. We will meet challenges from family and friends when we seek to follow Him by serving, tithing or attempting to use our gifts and talents for Him.

  • Share a time you felt challenged or opposed regarding your walk of faith. How did you respond? What do you learn from how Jesus acted in the face of opposition?

Have someone read Luke 9:51.

Jesus chose to move ahead and move toward Golgotha, a hill outside Jerusalem.

Sometimes people will ask who murdered Jesus? Who was really responsible for this unjust act of violence? How could something this unfair happen to a man this incredibly good?

Have someone read John 10:18.

Jesus in His own words says this is how it has to happen. This is the kingdom we have been talking about throughout this series — upside down — because what kind of regular king would voluntarily submit to that?

We read in Ephesians 1:7: “Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we're a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free!” (MSG)

When you humbly and gratefully embrace that gift and invite Him to be the forgiver of your sin and the leader of your life, you not only receive the promise of eternal life, you get to walk free now and experience that every day.

  • Share one of the things you have found freedom in, as a follower of Jesus, that continues to amaze you every day.

God longs for a relationship with people like us. People like us broke the relationship, so God took the initiative and moved throughout history to restore a relationship with us, and He did it on a hill called Golgotha with a King on a cross.

Watch the 3-minute video:

  • Share what stands out to you after watching that video.

  • As we move toward Easter Sunday, share something you need to leave at the cross and trust Jesus with.


Who do you know that you could invite to join you for one of our Easter services? Who needs to hear the hope of Jesus?

This week write out a list of all the ways you have found freedom through Christ. Spend time in prayer thanking Jesus for everything He has done.


Pair up and pray for each other and the people you identified as needing to hear the hope of Jesus. Pray for courage to reach out and invite them.

Pray for the things you need to leave at the cross, and spend time thanking Jesus for making that sacrifice on the cross so that we can find freedom.

Modgnik Week 5: Not To Us

Modgnik Week 5: Not To Us


MODGNIK... what do we know about it? It's one of the great mysteries of historic Christianity. It's a completely upside-down way to understand God. It's confusing, yet beautifully simple. But don't worry, all will be revealed about this new series at Eastside!

  • Share your favorite worship song.



Not To Us


Jesus was kind, loving, honest and sacrificial. Most people were expecting someone who would show up and take over, kick out the Romans who were occupying Israel, and be more of a political messiah. But Jesus eventually put that to rest when He said, “My kingdom is not of this world.”

It’s different in His Kingdom because people like eloquent while God likes real.

Exactly what does it mean to be real? Real is defined as being exactly as appears or claimed.  Real is also defined as the action of being true to one's self as well as being true to others. That is the kind of relationships we want to have with others and God,

Sometimes we feel the need to be eloquent, but God just wants our heart. He wants us to talk to him, just like we would talk to a friend. We can honestly share our burdens, our praises, and what keeps us up at night.

Public prayer is one of those things that makes many people go into utter panic. They immediately feel inadequate, paralyzed by fear. I’m sure we have all been in a group when the leader asked someone to pray, and everyone’s eyes shuffled back and forth avoiding the leader’s gaze.

God hears our simple prayers. Our cries for help in times of need and our shouts of praise when we have experienced His grace. All we have to do is share with Him, authentically.

  • What scares you most about praying out loud? If you aren’t scared, share how you overcame that fear.

  • Brainstorm ideas for how to make it less scary. Maybe split up into twos or go around and pray one-sentence prayers. The best thing you can do is just be courageous and pray.

Have someone read Luke 18:1-8.

The message from Jesus is pray continually and don’t lose heart. Prayer and persistence matter. It is easy to lose heart when things don’t seem (as far as we can tell) to be happening, and therefore it feels like He doesn’t hear us. The temptation is to question both Jesus and ourselves. Jesus shared the story about the woman and the judge to encourage us to keep persisting and to find hope in the waiting.

  • What is one thing that keeps you persisting in prayer? What are practical things you can do to fight against losing heart?

Have someone read Luke 18:9-14.

It’s different in His Kingdom because people want to look good, but God wants real. We work and live in places where there are unspoken or stated dress requirements. For instance, the Disney Company has a dress code manual with clear “Disney Look” instructions and even a position whose primary duty is to enforce the dress code. The term “maintaining appearances” is something we are very familiar with.

As followers of Jesus we sometimes pretty up our lives, afraid that we wouldn’t be accepted if people knew of our messy pasts or current struggles. Jesus sees through all of that. He is concerned about each of our hearts and the conditions of our souls. He couldn’t care less what other people think.

  • Share a time you showed up dressed differently than everyone else.  How did that make you feel?

  • Have you had moments like the tax collector, when you cried out humbly to God? Share with the group.

Have someone read Luke 18:15-18.

People reward maturity. God rewards real.

No matter where you are in your spiritual journey, God loves you and He wants you to be part of this upside down and backward Kingdom, where desperate widows, tax collectors, prostitutes, sinners, kids and people who sometimes act like kids are all welcome.

All we have to do is read God’s Word to see that Jesus didn’t care about the things we so easily get hung up on. He tells us to come like a child.

  • What does it mean to you to approach God like a child?

  • Have you in the past or maybe still feel like you need to clean up something in your life before you can really be loved by God?


Spend time reflecting and journaling about ways to approach God like a child.

Practice conversation prayers where you talk to God like He is in the chair next to you. What do you want Him to know? What are you persisting for right now? Pray for hope in the waiting.

Write out a verse that will encourage you to persist in prayer and put it in your car to remind you throughout the day to pray.


Normally, we encourage you to pair up. This week try a new way of prayer. Go around the group and share one thing with the Lord that you are grateful for. Then go around and say a one-sentence prayer for someone in your group.


Modgnik Week 4: Not To Us

Modgnik Week 4: Not To Us


MODGNIK... what do we know about it? It's one of the great mysteries of historic Christianity. It's a completely upside-down way to understand God. It's confusing, yet beautifully simple. But don't worry, all will be revealed about this new series at Eastside!

  • Share your favorite worship song.



Not To Us


This week our focus is on the N in MODGNIK which stands for Not to Us.

Even though it’s thrilling, exhilarating, and fulfilling to be in this Kingdom where we put others first, where we descend into greatness by serving others, and where we encourage generosity to flow through us like a river, it’s not all about us. The first verse in the Bible does not read, “In the beginning, you,” but it reads, “In the beginning, God.”

The topic of this weekend’s message is worship. The word “worship” means the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration.

Have someone read Psalms 115:1.

One of the reasons we worship this amazing God is because He is loving and faithful. Throughout the Bible the word Holy is used to describe Him. He is set apart, different from any of us.

Have someone read Isaiah 6:3 and Exodus 15:11.

Whenever Scripture describes people coming face to face with God, there was a healthy amount of fear. These people were acutely aware that they were moral foul ups, screwed-up sinners in the presence of a holy, perfect God. Abraham entered God’s presence and confessed being nothing but “dust and ashes.” When Habakkuk heard the voice of the Lord, he reacted with a pounding heart, quivering lips and trembling legs.

Psalm 96:9 says “Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness, tremble before him, all the earth.” When we truly see God’s holiness, we realize that we deserve death, we deserve to be punished for our sins, that we are far from holy. God in His incredible love and grace sent us a Savior to redeem us. That is why we worship Him.

Music is one method of worship and what we first think of when we hear that word. Those of us who grew up attending church may have experienced different styles of worship. Maybe you sang hymns, or perhaps you grew up in a church that did not include musical worship.

  • If you grew up going to church, share what style of worship you grew up with.

  • If you didn’t grow up attending church, share your first time experiencing worship at Eastside.


How we were raised can influence how we view or experience worship. If you were raised holding hymnals while singing all the verses of “Amazing Grace,” it might feel weird to raise your hands and sing loudly. You might feel everyone is looking at you (they aren’t). Some of us will raise our hands but aren’t willing go to our knees during worship.

We might think there is only one way to worship, but in the Scriptures we see many different forms of worship. If you want to know the style of worship God loves, it’s not a mystery. There is a book of the Bible, Psalms, that shows us. Psalms is the biggest book in the Bible, with 150 chapters, focusing primarily on worship. It’s like God is saying, “This is really important to me!” For many of us, what we read in the Psalms doesn’t look much like how we actually worship.

Part of the problem is in the translation. You might be reading Psalms in English and come across the word “praise.” In Hebrew, the original language of Psalms, there are seven completely different Hebrew words that have been translated into one English word “praise.”

Gene shared the seven different Hebrew words for “praise,” and how the Hebrew dictionary defines them.

The seven words and their meanings are:

  1. Halal - to rave, boast, celebrate, to be clamorously foolish

  2. Yadah - worship with extended hand

  3. Barak - bless by kneeling or bowing

  4. Zamar - to pluck the strings of an instrument with joyful expression

  5. Shabach - praise Me with shouts, and address Me in loud tones

  6. Towdah – to lift hands in adoration

  7. Tehillah - exuberant singing

Have someone read Psalms 150:3-5.

  • Read over the seven words for “praise,” and select which best describes how you love to worship. Which is the praise word or type of worship you are most uncomfortable with?

  • Share a time you remember feeling especially close to God while worshipping. How did that change or impact you?

Philippians 2 in the New Testament of the Bible talks about how Jesus descended into greatness to serve others, and how He humbled Himself by dying on a cross for us so we could have grace, freedom, hope, and purpose.

Have someone read Philippians 2:9-11.

There is no other name that has more power than the name of Jesus, and someday that’s going to be clear to everyone. Every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

His name is lifted up in all 66 books of the Bible. Genesis starts with He is our creator and promised Redeemer. Revelation says He’s the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, the Lamb slain before the foundations of the world.

  • Have each person look up a verse representing an attribute of God and share it with the group.

Darlene Zschech, worship leader and author of many songs, including “Shout to the Lord,” said, “Worship is not an event. It is not a Sunday morning ritual. A worshipful life is ‘a Christ-centered, Romans 12, everything-I-do poured-out-as-a-spiritual-act-of-worship’ life.” Which means in your walking, talking, living…You are constantly aware that Jesus is the center of all things for you.”

As followers of Jesus, we are called to a lifestyle of worship. We don’t need a worship band to worship God; we can worship Him alone, at home, even in our car. A worship-filled life takes the focus off of us and directs it toward God. It requires making choices that make worship a priority in our lives.

  • What are you choosing to focus your time and energy on?

  • Discuss this question: If truly worshiping God is my priority, how can I change my daily schedule to reflect that?


Trying new ways of worship might seem awkward at first.

  • Consider trying to worship God in a new way. Maybe it is lifting your hands up as you worship during a church service or kneeling in worship at home. Try exuberant singing to your favorite worship song while driving (don’t raise your hands though!)

  • Create a playlist on Spotify or iTunes of your favorite worship songs that you can use at home or while driving.


Pair off and

  • Share one thing you are hesitant about in terms of worship. Pray for each to overcome your fears and to experience God in worship with a full and open heart.


For Your Reference

List of His name lifted up in all 66 books of the Bible.

Old Testament


Exodus – He is the PASSOVER LAMB

Leviticus – He is our HIGH PRIEST

Numbers – He is our EVER-PRESENT GUIDE, with a CLOUD to guide us by day and a PILLAR OF FIRE by night

Deuteronomy – He is our COMING PROPHET that is greater than Moses


Judges – He is our JUDGE AND LAWGIVER


1 and 2 Samuel – He is our SHEPHERD-KING, who rushes out to face our giants all alone.

1 and 2 Kings - He is the RIGHTEOUS LEADER

1 and 2 Chronicles – the RESTORER OF THE KINGDOM.


Nehemiah – the One who RESTORES WHAT IS BROKEN

Esther – PROTECTOPR of His people


Psalms – our SHEPHERD who hears our cries

Proverbs – our DAILY WISDOM

Ecclesiastes – our MEANING FOR LIFE



Jeremiah – our RIGHTEOUS ONE

Lamentations – our WEEPING PROPHET

Ezekiel – the SON OF MAN

Daniel – the STRANGER IN THE FIRE with us

Hosea – FAITHFUL HUSBAND even when we run away

Joel – The RESTORER of all that the locusts had eaten


Obadiah – He is MIGHTY TO SAVE




Habakkuk – our REASON TO REJOICE, even when our fields are empty

Zephaniah – He is our WARRIOR who saves


 Zechariah – He is the FOUNTAIN FLOWING, taking away sin

Malachi – the SUN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS who brings healing…


New Testament

Matthew – the KING OF THE JEWS

Mark – the SON OF GOD


John – the WORD BECOME FLESH dwelling among us

Acts – the SPIRIT who dwells in His people


1 Corinthians – the POWER AND LOVE OF GOD

2 Corinthians – He is the DOWN PAYMENT of what’s to come

Galatians – He our LIBERTY that sets us free

Ephesians – our RIGHTEOUS ARMOR

Philippians – the JOY OF OUR LIVE


1 Thessalonians – our COMFORT IN THE LAST DAYS

2 Thessalonians – our RETURNING KING

1 Timothy – SAVIOR of the worst sinners

2 Timothy – LEADER of the leaders


Philemon – our REDEEMER, restoring us to service


James – He is the POWER behind your faith

1 and 2 Peter – our LIVING CORNERSTONE

1, 2, and 3 John – He is our ADVOCATE pleading for us


Revelation – He’s THE FIRST AND THE LAST, THE BEGINNING AND THE END, THE LAMB slain to pay for the sins of the world.

Modgnik Week 3: D-escending Into Greatness / G-enerosity Flows

Modgnik Week 3: D-escending Into Greatness / G-enerosity Flows


MODGNIK... what do we know about it? It's one of the great mysteries of historic Christianity. It's a completely upside-down way to understand God. It's confusing, yet beautifully simple. But don't worry, all will be revealed about this new series at Eastside!

  • Share a memory, you would consider one of your happiest times.



D-escending Into Greatness/G-enerosity Flows


In the backward Kingdom of God, life is radically different. Instead of trying to build our little empire on earth, Jesus tell us the more that people are looking for is found in less. In His kingdom, the way to become full is to empty ourselves. 

Jesus was explaining the pathway to living a great life. A life where we descend into greatness by giving ourselves away and where generosity flows through us.

There are all kinds of unique, colorful, and different people in the world with an unbelievable variety of interests. But there is one kind of interest that unites the entire human family, one thing we all share in common. It is self-interest.

How many of us have fallen for the myth that tells us the more I have, the happier I am?

But what happens is, the more a person has, the more a person wants.

  • Share about one area that you think if you had more, you would be happier. This could be money, tangible things, time, people in your life. What would you consider to be enough?

Have someone read Mark 8:31-35.

Jesus knew that self-interest runs so deep that a few casual reminders will never make a dent. There is a series of three passages that continue to address this issue. In the first passage Peter rebuked Jesus for what he had to say. It is hard for us to imagine rebuking God; however, we have probably done this to someone in our life. We didn’t agree with what they had to say and took them aside to object, but the real reason for our objection was that their idea didn’t serve our self-interest.

Jesus was saying, “Peter, your whole world revolves around you. You’re only worried about you. You’ve missed my entire mission to redeem and save the world.”

And when Jesus said, “Get behind me, Satan!” I think He wanted Peter to understand that self-interest is not just merely a psychological maladjustment.

Now you would think that the disciples would just jump on this and change their selfish ways, wouldn’t you? But me-first mindsets don’t change easily or overnight. So, Jesus needed to keep going after them with the same message.

Have someone read Mark 9:31-37.

When Jesus found out that on their travels to the next city, His disciples had been fighting over who would be first, He called them over. Sitting down, Jesus said, “Anyone who wants to be first (and you guys seem very worried about being first a lot) must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

Have someone read Mark 10:35-37.

The disciples couldn’t really comprehend what Jesus was saying. They still were thinking that Jesus was about to overthrow Rome and set up a political kingdom and assert Himself as King of the Jews. They thought they were headed to Jerusalem for the inaugural ball. They were encouraging Jesus to go and make Israel great again. Then they were bickering who was going be sitting at Jesus’ right or left? We chuckle at them now, but we also struggle to comprehend what heaven will be like. We wrestle with the same things.

  • Why is it a struggle for us to be generous? What is the area of biggest struggle — hospitality, food, time or money?

Studies show that in our country, as people make more money, they tend to give less away, proportionally speaking. The more they have, the tighter they hold on to it. In Jesus’ upside-down kingdom, we learn that generosity is His will for us, that giving is the mindset and lifestyle of choice.

Have someone read Luke 6:38.

Jesus was explaining that God is generous, encourages us to do likewise, and that generous people will benefit. “Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.”

God has done so much. How much more could He do if we all really believe that the more we give, the more we’ll have to give? What if we really believed we are happier giving than receiving?

  • Share mind sets that hold you back from genuinely believing this principle of give and more will be given to you.

  • Share a time when giving to someone else brought you joy.

The Bible says when you honor God with the first percentage of your income, you invite Him into your financial life and your financial affairs. Gene shared how he and Barbara learned an important principle: generosity doesn’t happen until we make it a priority.

  • Each year we offer the 90-day challenge of giving and seeing if God doesn’t meet you, showing up in often unexpected ways. If you have taken this challenge and have a story of how God blessed you, share with your group.

  • If you have not taken this type of challenge, share about where in your financial life you need God to show up.

Now when Jesus explained that people are more blessed to give than to receive, He wasn’t just talking about financial resources, he was also talking about our time, talents, and service.

Noted psychologist Dr. Martin Seligman wrote a book entitled Authentic Happiness, and in his book, he comes down to this conclusion. He says that most all of us think that we would be happy if we could have more of something. Seligman found that when people are involved in acts of service for others, they become less self-absorbed, less depressed. They become more tuned in to others, more capable of empathy. They have a greater sense of community and a decreased sense of loneliness.

  • Share how the Holy Spirit wants to apply this in your life. Share if you feel He is leading you in a certain area or action.


The space between not enough and too much can never be bridged. Seligman challenged his students. He said, “I want you all to go out and do one act that you know will make you happy. Then I want you to go out and do one act of compassion, one purely altruistic piece of behavior. Then write down your reflections to both of these things.”

  • Consider trying this experiment in your own group or with your family. Write down reflections and bring to share next week.

  • Honor someone this week with a text, a post on their Facebook wall, a handwritten letter, an email or a phone call. Next week share what you did with your group.


Pair off and:

  • Pray for the courage to believe that the more generous we are, we will have more.

  • Share a personal request you could pray for each other this week. Spend time praying for each other before closing.


Modgnik Week 2: Others First

Modgnik Week 2: Others First


MODGNIK... what do we know about it? It's one of the great mysteries of historic Christianity. It's a completely upside-down way to understand God. It's confusing, yet beautifully simple. But don't worry, all will be revealed about this new series at Eastside!

  • Share the coolest thing someone ever did for you.



Others First


Jesus’ Kingdom is not like an earthly kingdom; it’s a backwards, upside down MODGNIK KINGDOM that looks completely different than we would expect.

Our idea of kingdom is shaped by what we see on TV and read in history books, and some of us are disappointed with Jesus because we are confused about what it means to follow Jesus and be part of the Kingdom of God.

Some of us have confused it with the American dream.  We think the end result of following Jesus is a four-bedroom, three-bathroom house, two cars, 2.4 kids, and a dog, all behind a white picket fence in a good school district.

Others of us have confused it with going to church, saying a prayer at Thanksgiving, growing up in a Christian home, being a spiritual person, doing good things, or being a “good person.”

Still others may be confused about all the brands of Christianity: Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist, non-denominational, Episcopalian, Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Ethiopian Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox, and just plain unorthodox.

And a lot of people would say, “I don’t want to be a Christian at all because they’re a bunch of backwards, stuck-in-the mud moralists who seem to exist only to judge others and suck the fun out of life.”

But none of those things is really what Jesus invited us to.  Jesus invited us to follow Him and become a part of His upside down, inside out, backwards kingdom where we pray, “Oh God may up there, come down here.” The kingdom of Jesus not only makes life better, it makes us better at life.

  • When you think about following Jesus, what does it mean for your practical day in and day out life?  This isn’t a question about whether you read your Bible regularly (although that’s important), it’s a question about the impact that following Jesus has on your normal, “non-spiritual” activities.

Have someone read Matthew 7:9-12.

Our world and culture are divided culturally, politically, racially, socially, religiously. But there is a single universal ethic espoused by Jesus that all of us can agree on: Do to others what you would have them do to you. The problem, of course, is that we’re not doing a very good job living this out.

In the New Testament of the Bible, there’s a 2-word phrase that keeps coming up over and over again, “One another.” It’s used 59 times.  When we see the same phrase repeated throughout the Bible that is a clue to us that this is important to Jesus.

  • Honestly evaluate your day. How well have you kept the golden rule today?

Have someone read Acts 4:32-37.

“Encourage others” is one of the three “one another’s” we looked at this weekend. To encourage others is to put courage in them. You give them hope, confidence, and spirit by your words and actions. After Jesus died and rose again, believers left behind their jobs and lives to come together. This was exciting, but there was a need for resources.

One of these believers, Joseph, was nicknamed Barnabas, which means “Son of Encouragement.” He sold a field he owned and brought the money to the apostles. This incredible gift helped them do more in less time.

Barnabas was also the one to meet with Saul—persecuter of Christians who later spread the good news of Jesus all around the known world—when others were fearful of him. Barnabas helped give hope and life to the man who ended up having a huge impact for the kingdom of God.

Have someone read Hebrews 3:13 and Hebrews 10:23-25.

  • Who is someone you need to be intentional about encouraging this week?

Have someone read John 13:3-17.

Jesus is in the Upper Room the night before he would be arrested and washed the feet of his disciples. He was saying “serve others,” the second “one another” we looked at this weekend. When we walk through life like this, looking for a way to serve others, it changes our perspective.

Serving others is part of God’s upside-down kingdom and will bring joy like you never knew before.  Perspectives are changed when we sincerely give back and put others first. When we think, “How can I serve others?” we stop walking into situations thinking “What can you do for me?” This shift is life-changing and allows us to be part of the bigger story of what God is doing in the world.

  • Have you ever prayed, “Lord, how can I serve you today?” and had a situation present itself? If so, share with the group what happened and how it impacted you.

Have someone read Romans 12:10.

Honor is not something we talk about much anymore. It means giving others high regard and praise. Honor is showing respect to them.

Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood) was honored with a lifetime achievement award at the 1997 Daytime Emmy Awards. During his acceptance speech, Fred gave the audience 10 seconds of silence and encouraged them to use the time to think about someone who had impacted their life.  Then he honored the people who had impacted his life.

  • Take 10 seconds now and think about someone who helped you become the person you are today. Go around the circle and have each group member honor that person by sharing about him or her with the group.


  • Honor someone this week with a text, a post on their Facebook wall, a handwritten letter, an email or a phone call. Next week share what you did with your group.


Pair off and:

  • Pray that God would bring people to mind that you can serve, honor or encourage.

  • Thank God for the people He has put in your life that have encouraged you and helped you to become the person you are today.


Modgnik Week 1: More Is Less

Modgnik Week 1: More Is Less


MODGNIK... what do we know about it? It's one of the great mysteries of historic Christianity. It's a completely upside-down way to understand God. It's confusing, yet beautifully simple. But don't worry, all will be revealed about this new series at Eastside!

  • What was your favorite mystery book to read growing up?



More Is Less


Have someone read Matthew 6:9-13.

The kingdom of God was central to the teaching and mission of Jesus. He told all kinds of stories using metaphors and parables to describe and expand our understanding of God’s kingdom.

When we pray the words “your kingdom comes” we’re simply praying, “Oh God, may up there come down here!” We pray for Your kingdom to be expanded from heaven to earth, that your will be done here, just as it’s done there is heaven.

What is a kingdom? Someone said that a “kingdom” is your sphere of control where you rule. It’s this empire that you control, that’s set to your tastes, likes, purposes, values, and character. It’s an environment arranged according to how you like it.

  • What is your kingdom? Where do you rule? How does it reflect who you are?

God's kingdom is the place that perfectly reflects his character and his values.  It is His domain where things operate the way He likes them to. Therefore, God’s kingdom is a place of joy, truth, grace, healing, compassion, forgiveness, and peace.

God's kingdom is a wonderful place, because He is wonderful. But God’s Kingdom is so different than any other kingdom on this earth. It’s upside down and backwards from what we would think.

This week we took the word Kingdom and looked at it backwards – MODGNIK.

Have someone read Matthew 16:24-26.

M is More is less.

You want the adventure of a lifetime? Then loosen your grip, give up control, surrender to God’s leadership and wisdom. When you do that your life will be a thrilling ride of purpose, passion, joy, peace and deep satisfaction.

It’s counter cultural, but in this upside-down backwards kingdom of God, more is less and less is more.

  • What part of your life is the one you grip on to most? What would it look like to give up control and surrender to God?

Have someone read Philippians 2:3-7.

Jesus redefined greatness, saying that in His kingdom greatness is not something you ascend to. Rather, it is something you D-escend into. This goes against our culture in every way.

The first step toward greatness in your life is making the decision to lay your ego on the altar. Start each day asking the Holy Spirit to remind you throughout the day, that you are not the center of the universe. You say, “Today, in regard to my own self-importance, my own ego, I choose to have the same mindset as Jesus, who laid down his ego even though he actually is the center of the universe.”

In verse 6 the word in ‘very nature’ God is the Greek word ‘morpha’ which means ‘the essence.’ Jesus was the very essence of God, yet He made a choice. He said, “Even though I could, I’m not going to cling to my divine rights. I’m going to open my hands, let it go, lay my go on the altar, and surrender fully to the will of the Father.”

Jesus laid down His self. He crucified his ego and nailed his self-interest to the cross, saving us all from ourselves. And in His Kingdom, all He is asking you and me to do is put O-thers first.

  • Share a place in your life you recognize the need to put others first.

This is not only a kingdom of selflessness, but a place where G-enerosity flows.

Have someone read Luke 6:38.

There are all kinds of studies that show that the happiest people in life are those who give themselves away. Research shows that people who are generous with their home, their hospitality, their food, time, and money tend to flourish in life. People who volunteer, coach, mentor, serve others tend to thrive. Putting others first is real core value of this Kingdom.

As deeply fulfilling as that kind of life is, it’s still not about us. It is all about God working through us. We are just gratefully representing Jesus, bringing His up there kingdom down here.

  • This weekend was our Annual Serve Day, where over 1500 people gave their time and talents away. If you participated, share your experience and observations.

  • Some people make vision boards each year with pictures of what they want their life to look like. What would your life look like if you were to let generosity flow and put others first?

Matthew 5:16 (NLT) says, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

In God’s ingenious design of the church, He gave us all different gifts, gifts that we can use to glorify God, letting others see what a life transformed by Jesus truly looks like.

Jesus tells some really great stories how the kingdom of God really works. He tells stories about lost sheep, lost coins, and lost kids. He says the kingdom of God is this radically I-nclusive place where everyone is welcome.  

Have someone read Colossians 2:13-14.

God swings the door open wide and through Jesus Christ looks beyond our faults, flaws, and failures. Instead of giving us justice, which is what we deserve, He gives us grace and unfailing love

  • Who is someone in your life that needs to experience God’s grace?  How can you reach out to them this week?

Have someone read John 12:32-33.

The people of Jesus’ day were looking for the kingdom of God to come. They were expectantly looking for a powerful king to show up. They had a picture in their minds of a ruler who would be an economic savior. They were longing for a political messiah, a strong military conqueror who would come and obliterate Rome.

In John 12, Jesus was talking about a cross and laying down His life. He would be taking the punishment for the sins of the world. It went against everything they knew or expected. Because our King is unlike any other king.  He’s a King who voluntarily gave Himself on a cross for us.


  1. This week start each day asking God to remind you that are you are not the center of the universe. Each morning pray, submitting yourself and your day to Jesus.

  2. If your group was unable to participate in Serve Day last weekend, consider finding another way you could serve others as a group.  There are opportunities available at


Pair off and spend time praying for:

  • Help to live a life surrendered to God, one that has an outward, generous orientation.

  • The people you identified as needing to see God’s grace. Ask God for the opportunity and courage to reach out to them

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.




A better story is worth fighting for. A better family is worth fighting for. A better you is worth fighting for. This new year could bring incredible freedom and growth in ways you've never imagined, but you’ll have to fight for it. The good news is, the God of the universe is on your side fighting for you. In this series, we'll unpack a strategy to win, the equipment that is available to all of us, and the power source that makes it all happen.

  • Share a story of a time you fought for something you cared deeply about and saw freedom and growth in your life because of it.


The Power Play


Throughout this series we’ve been reminded that we are in a very real supernatural struggle with the forces of darkness. We have a very real enemy and He’s called by various names in the Bible. He’s called Satan, Lucifer, Prince of Darkness, the serpent, the Evil One, the Father of lies, the Destroyer, the Accuser and many other names.

Scripture teaches us that Satan wasn’t always the bad one.  In fact, years and years ago, Satan was actually an angel, one of God’s best and most beautiful angels, known as Lucifer, or often called the morning star. But Satan, in his beauty, became jealous of God and wanted to be like God.

Have a volunteer read Revelation 12:7-9.

In Ephesians, the apostle Paul reminds us that we have the weapons to fight back when we are in a spiritual battle and win.

Have a volunteer read Ephesians 6:10-12.

Paul describes the following pieces of armor available to us:

  • Helmet of Salvation – Reminds us we are saved by the grace of God through his death on the cross and resurrection.

  • Breastplate of Righteousness – God looks at us and see the breastplate of righteousness, not because we are good, he sees past our sins.

  • Shield of Faith – Protects us from the darts the enemy will hurl at us and defeats them because God lives with us and is greater than the one who lives in this world.

  • Shoes of Peace – we go into battle with a peace that surpasses all understanding.

  • Sword of the Spirit – We have the offensive weapon of the Word of God.

Just like going into battle without physical armor on is dangerous, so is going into spiritual battles without the protection we have available to us.

Think over the battles and struggles you are facing right now. What pieces of armor would help and protect you as you walk through this situation?

Have a volunteer read Ephesians 6:18.

The final tool Paul gives us in this passage is prayer.

  • What do you think Paul means by the phrase “pray at all times in the Spirit”? Look back at Ephesians 5:18-21 and talk about how might this help us understand and apply Ephesians 6:18 to our lives?

Each of us needs to be in community, like this small group to have people praying for us, who have our backs. People to encourage us as we face struggles, big and small.

  • Have you experienced the power of walking through a difficult situation with a group of people that were praying for you and walking alongside you? If so, share about it with the group. 

Many of us have faced times when we pray and feel like nothing is happening. In those times remember your prayers are more powerful than you know.

Have a volunteer read Daniel 10:12-14.

Daniel prayed, and as soon as he prayed, God heard his prayer, released His angels, and for 21 days they did battle against an evil spirit.  When Michael, the archangel, appeared, he was able to hold off the evil spirits so the other angel could go to Daniel and say, “God has answered your prayer.” 

Twenty-one days, there’s a battle going on in the heavenlies, because you need to understand, what you see in the physical world is not all that there is, and your prayers are more powerful than you know.

Gene shared the story of Erwin McManus and his son Aaron, who as a child, returned home from camp afraid to go to sleep. He had heard these demon stories and now was afraid. He asked his Dad to say a prayer that he would be safe.

Erwin leaned down and said, ‘Honey, I won’t do that.’ In his mind he thought when it comes to Christianity “I don’t want him to live a life of safety.” So, Erwin said, ‘Aaron, I’m not going to pray that God will make you safe.’ His eyes got really big and he said, ‘Daddy!’…. He said, ‘I am going to pray that God will make you dangerous for Christ. So dangerous that all the demons will flee when you enter the room.’ Aaron looked up at him and said, ‘All right daddy, then you pray that God makes me really dangerous!”

  • Share where in your life are you playing it safe and need to ask God to make you dangerous?

Most of us want to live a life that matters. We want our lives to make a difference. Let’s be people whose prayers are to stand firm, stand strong, be a person of prayer, a person of the Word, filled with God’s Spirit.  This is how we fight our battles.

As we wrap up this series hopefully you are encouraged to fight for a better life. Fight your spiritual battles with spiritual weapons. Fight for your family, marriage, financial freedom or physical freedom from addictions that keep you from living out the life God has for you. Fight for your kids, going to God in prayer knowing that our prayers more powerful then we know.

Have a volunteer read Matthew 3:13-14.

Before the battle, Jesus got battle ready through baptism. Gene shared four things we should consider about baptism. It marks a turning point in your life; publicly expresses your commitment to God; demonstrates your humility; and was a picture of His ultimate mission, changing your life.


  1. Use one of the tools we have received during this series and share next week how it impacted your spiritual life.

  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.

  3. Many of you have taken that step of being baptized, but if you’re a follower of Jesus and haven’t yet, sign up to get baptized today at


Pair off and spend time praying for:

  • Courage to fight for a better story.

  • Discernment to recognize the spiritual battles and apply the spiritual armor God has given you.

Christmas Beyond Borders Week 2: Christmas in Kenya

Christmas Beyond Borders Week 2: Christmas in Kenya


If not us, then who? If not now, then when? If not here, then where?

This Christmas season we are boldly going further than ever bringing a light to what God is doing around the world.

  • What is your favorite part of the Christmas season?


This week as part of Christmas Beyond Borders, Gene took us to Kenya and gave us a snapshot of the need in the Mathare Valley. Eastside partners with Missions of Hope, which was started in 2000 by Mary and Wallace. 

For years they drove by the slums, not giving them a second thought. One day they could no longer ignore it and decided to do something. They have grown from 2 rooms and 50 kids to 18 years later launching 23 different schools and 14 churches. They offer education, medical, dental and share the hope giving message of Jesus.

We saw a glimpse of how they celebrate. They don’t have money for gifts or fancy celebrations, they celebrate the season by being together and celebrating the joy of Christmas.

  • Mary and Wallace had an aha moment that has changed the course of thousands of lives.  Where in your life might God be trying to get you to take notice and make a difference?

Have a volunteer read Matthew 9:36 & Colossians 3:12.

We see Jesus’ heart of compassion and how we, as the church, are called to be compassionate. While we are focusing on our Compassion partners this month, there are needs in each of our communities. There are people who don’t know Jesus and are in desperate need of hope.

  • Who is someone in your life who desperately needs hope, freedom and the message of Jesus? How can you could be a light to them this season?

Have different people look up and read the following verses:

Deuteronomy 15:10

Psalm 82:3-4

James 1:27

Proverbs 31:8-9

I John 3:17

These are just a few of the over 2000 verses in the Bible addressing poverty. The poor are close to God’s heart.

Approximately 100,000 children live in the slums of the Mathare Valley in Kenya. Sponsorship gives a child a future through education, uniforms, nutrition, medical care and a solid spiritual foundation. They provide health workshops and counseling for the entire family.

  • Who is one person who made a difference in your life when you were young?  Tell the group about them.

  • Have you ever sponsored a child? If so, what impact has it had on you?

Gene and Barbara have sponsored a boy named Ian since 2010. Gene first met him when Ian was in second grade.

Eastside has been given this amazing opportunity to partner with Missions of Hope. This next year there are six trips to Africa, where you will have the opportunity to meet your sponsored child. Getting to go and see first-hand the work being done and the opportunity to meets the kids is life changing.

  • Have you ever been on a short term mission trip? If so, what impact did it have on you? If not, do you think now might be the time to consider going on one?


  1. Actually, take a step towards sharing the love of Christ to those in need in your neighborhood and community.

  2. Search out more information about going on a Compassion Trip in the coming year. (Even if you’re not sure you can/want to go, just have a conversation.)

  3. Pray about sponsoring a child.


Pair off (with someone other than your spouse) and spend time praying for:

  • Courage to be a light to the people in your life.

  • Eyes to see the opportunities God puts before you, to bless and encourage others this Christmas season.

  • Whether you should sign up for a Compassion Trip and/or sponsor a child this month.

Christmas Beyond Borders Week 1: Christmas in Mexico

Christmas Beyond Borders Week 1: Christmas in Mexico


If not us, then who? If not now, then when? If not here, then where?

This Christmas season we are boldly going further than ever bringing a light to what God is doing around the world.

  • What is your favorite part of the Christmas season?


  • Last week we were encouraged to read the Bible and use Mike’s “Relax, Reflect, Respond” approach. How did it go? Did you end up doing it? If so, what insights did you gain?


This week Mike shared from Rosarito and the Tijuana Christian Mission (TCM) as part of our Christmas Beyond Borders series.

He said he loves Christmas lights because they remind him of how Jesus came to be the light of the world. Lights are bright. They guide us, warm us up, and shine everywhere. We know people like that, people who light up a room or have a contagious, sincere optimism.

Who do you know like this and what qualities do they have?

Have a volunteer read 2 Corinthians 11:14.

Mike shared the story of Sam Lord, a pirate from Barbados, who would lure sailors using lights to make the reefs look like the harbor.  When the ships came in they would wreck on the reefs, and he would take everything.  The Bible says even demons can disguise themselves as light. We need to be aware, praying for discernment as we shine our light for the Lord.

  • Share a time something you encountered seemed good but in reality was harmful. How would you approach that situation differently today?

  • Is there any thing in your life now that seems like a good thing but that you’re concerned may actually be harmful?

Have a volunteer read John 1:4-5.

Jesus, the light of the world, chases out the darkness. As believers, we are called to be the light and have the opportunity to expose the darkness and bring light to hard situations.

Mike shared the story of Sergio and Martha Gomez, who went to Tijuana to plant churches in 1965. When a cardboard box holding a baby was left outside their trailer, it became apparent they were there to help children too. They started an orphanage, and Eastside has had the opportunity to partner with them, helping them purchase 7 ½ acres of land and bring down over 400 people each year on Compassion Trips.

  • Have you ever been on a mission trip? If so, share about it with the group.  If not, how might you benefit from going on one?

Have a volunteer read 1 Corinthians 15:58.

The Gomez’s have left a legacy of changed lives, and their daughter Sarah is now actively involved as well. They have been a safe place and home to numerous children. She talked the impact of child sponsorship: the children feel special, loved, and that someone cares for them.

  • Have you ever sponsored a child? If so, what impact has it had on you?

Have a volunteer read Philippians 2:12-18.

Paul shares how God works through us and that our job is to shine brightly to others in our life.

  • What is one area of life where you need to shine brightly?  What hesitations do you have about being a light in that situation, and how can you take a step towards bringing light to that dark place?

Have a volunteer read Genesis 1:1-3.

The darker situation, the brighter our lives shine for Jesus. When kids are being abused, hearts are being broken, addicts are struggling to overcome, finances are tight, and health challenges abound, that’s when the light of Jesus shining through us is needed most.

We can be the light and offer hope every day. When we do, we help people see there is a way and that Jesus can’t be constrained. Our calling, our destiny, is to offer others hope as we go about our day.


  1. Actually take the step towards being a light in a dark situation that you identified above.

  2. Talk with a Compassion representative this coming Sunday to get more information about going on a Compassion Trip in the coming year.  (Even if you’re not sure you can/want to go, just have a conversation.)

  3. Pray about sponsoring a child.


Pair off and spend time praying for:

  • Courage to be a light to the people in your life.

  • Eyes to see the opportunities God puts before you, to bless and encourage others this Christmas season.

  • Whether you should sign up for a Compassion Trip and/or sponsor a child this month.

- Storyteller - Week 4: Miracle Grow

- Storyteller - Week 4: Miracle Grow


Our life is a story enfolded in the epic story of God. Stories are all around us. They move us, make us feel alive, and inspire us.

Jesus was a master communicator. He used objects, humor, current events, historical reference, and poetry. But most of all, he told stories. He knew that people remember stories. He realized that they were a way to reach people where they were living, help them see themselves in that story, and gain a greater understanding about life: life with God, life with each other.

  • What is one experience that you’ve had in the last year or two that has caused you to grow as a person?


Have a volunteer read John 15:8

When we flourish and grow towards our God-given potential, it makes God smile and throws a huge floodlight on His greatness.

God wants to shape us into His best version of us. He desires us to be fully alive with joy, passion and gratitude.  He wants to grow us into people that produce fruit with our lives and make a difference in this world.  

One of the ways we grow is through His Word, the Bible. He uses the teaching of His word to change, sharpen, encourage, and convict us.

  • Has something you’ve read in the Bible ever impacted you in a significant way? If so, how did it impact you and how is your life different as a result?

In Matthew 13, Jesus is teaching a large crowd. The crowd grows so big He has to get into a boat off the shore and use the bank as an amphitheater. He tells a story all about sowing seeds, cultivation, different types of soil, and how that impacts our growth.

Have a volunteer read Matthew 13:3-17

Jesus describes four types of soil that the seed fell on in this passage:

  1. The Path – This is where there is no soil and the seed had nowhere to land.

  2. Rocky Soil – Here the seed plants but without roots it quickly dies.

  3. Thorns and Weeds – The seed is planted but thorns choke the plants out.

  4. Good Soil – The seed plants, puts down deep roots and thrives.

  • What kind of thorny or rocky experiences keep God’s teachings from taking root in our lives?

Many times, Jesus would use parables and not give the explanation but, in this story, we get to see what He’s talking about.

Have a volunteer read Matthew 13:18-23.

We read that the seed here represents the Word of God and the farmer is the person teaching it. What would happen if every time each of us were in an environment where we had the opportunity to learn God’s Word, we would begin by saying this simple prayer, “God, as You teach, let me be teachable.”

  • How can you be more like the one who received the seed on good soil? Share what would good soil look like in your life.

Have a volunteer read Colossians 2:7.

Roots are so fascinating because the majority of the time, they are unseen. They lie beneath the surface, but the role roots play is essential. The roots are what hold the nutrients in, allowing life to grow and flourish above ground.

If we are going to flourish, we have to allow the word of God to break through the surface of our lives and go deep within us. This happens when we engage with God’s Word every day and draw nourishment from Him.

Have a volunteer read Ephesians 3:17.

No matter what happens in life, you will grow and flourish because your roots run deep.

  •  What is your approach to engaging with the Bible?  Is it a regular part of your day?  Is there anything you think you might need to change about how you engage with God’s Word?

Have volunteers read Colossians 3:16 and James 1:22-25.

Mike shared an approach to reading God’s Word using the words Relax, Reflect and Respond to guide us.

  • Relax in His character. When we know God’s character and heart towards us, we can relax in His unfailing love and hang on to His every word as life-giving truth.

  • Reflect by asking God “What are you trying to teach me?  What’s in this that I need to hear?“

  • Respond by asking God “What do I need to do with this?” Other questions include “What are you asking me to do?” or “How should I respond to this? “

Then apply it to your life and do what it says.

Through Jesus’ telling of this story we see how life changing God’s Word is. We can choose to improve our soil when we cultivate it through humility and fertilize it by practicing gratitude every day.  Plant yourself by the river everyday and let your roots go down deep into His love. Set aside some time every day this week to relax, reflect, and respond. See just how God will throw some Miracle Gro on your life and you will begin to flourish from the inside out in ways you never thought you could.


This week, as you’re reading the Bible, use Mike’s “Relax, Reflect, Respond” approach.  Write down anything you think God might be saying to you or asking you to do.

If you’re not currently reading the Bible regularly, download the YouVersion app and pick a Bible reading plan.  Try to read the Bible at least four times over the next week, even if it’s only for 5 minutes each time.


In January, we are launching an initiative to help Eastsiders develop solid faith foundations.  We are developing four small group curriculum, the first of which is called Engage with God.  It is all about helping us know God like Mike talked about and like Jesus did. Consider using it as a group to experience the joy, passion, and gratitude that God wants to help each of us develop in our lives.



Pair off and spend time praying for:

  • God to reveal the condition of your heart and soil.

  • Discipline to set aside time each day this week to relax, reflect and respond.

  • To cultivate deep roots that will see you through the ups and downs of life.

  • The strength to seek out healing you might personally need emotionally, physically and/or spiritually.