House Group Study Material

House Groups at Ann Arbor Christian Reformed Church are a place where we have a chance to meet with and learn from each other. There is a richness when the people of God teach and learn from one another. We value this connectedness and caring. When we walk together with one another, we find encouragement to learn and practice new habits that life-giving and life-nurturing as we live in the power of God’s Spirit. To get involved contact Pastor Ryan or Ross Weener.

House group topics will be church-wide and change seasonally.

Winter/Spring 2019
This season we will be walking through Eugene Peterson’s book, Tell It Slant. In this book, Peterson discusses the wonderful use of language by our Lord Jesus in his parables from the Gospel of Luke. The groups will go through this book as we as a church also go through these parables for our Lenten sermon series.
Week Six
Chapters 19-20 in Tell it Slant
Luke 23:26-49; Matthew 27:32-56; John 19:16-37

In these two chapters, Peterson goes over the 7 words Jesus spoke on the cross and unpacks them in the same way he unpacked the Lord’s prayer earlier in the book. In the final chapter, Peterson lays out the beauty of language in the prayers of Jesus and how this language grounds us in our language. We pray in a Jesus-centered world.

Discussion questions:
1. What word or words from the cross were most meaningful for you in this season?
2. What word or words were most challenging for you in this season?
3. What does Peterson say about praying in Jesus’ name? Is it simply ending our prayers in Jesus’ name or is it more than that? What is it?
4. How has this study helped you think about language we use everyday?
5. How has this study helped you think about the vision of the AACRC? What does it say about us that we are committing to be a “purposeful community that engages the world with the love of Jesus Christ through the practice of christian hospitality?”
6. What did you think of this book overall? Would you like to do another book like this in the future?

Week Five
Chapter 15 of Tell it Slant
Matthew 11:25-26

This is a short chapter with a short prayer. Yet, the depth of the prayer and what it has to teach us today is deep and robust. Jesus prays a prayer of thanksgiving in the midst of being misunderstood and isolated.

Discussion questions:
1. What do the conditions of prayer have to do with Jesus’ words in the prayer?
2. Have you ever found it difficult to pray? Did it feel forced to praise or give thanks in those difficult circumstances?
3. When do you feel most aware of your need for God? How do your feelings of gratitude relate to this need?
4. The context for this prayer is Jesus being misunderstood by those who knew him best. In what way does our familiarity with God/religion/church open us up to disobedience?
5. What else would you like to share about this chapter?

Week Four
Chapter 13-14 of Tell it Slant
Matthew 6:9-13

In the second half of the book, Peterson pivots and begins to talk about the language in the prayer life of Jesus. In the final three sessions on this study we will focus on Jesus and his prayers. Peterson asserts that we often use one kind of language for prayer and one kind of language for speaking to one another. Yet, he says, Jesus doesn’t do that. Rather, Jesus stays in the immediate and Incarnate world as he prays. In the following session, we will see an example of that from Matthew’s gospel and think about how Jesus prays in the “word-made-flesh-world.”

Discussion questions:
1. Do you ever find yourself using language in prayer that you don’t use in your everyday speech? What kinds of words or phrases are those?
2. Peterson says that we are most truly ourselves when we use story and language—when we tell stories about ourselves to others and when we pray to God. Do you feel that is true for you? Do you feel yourself when you pray?
3. Peterson warns agains faux prayers or the empty promises of “thoughts and prayers” and bids us to keep close to Jesus through the set prayers of the church and of scripture. Do you find comfort and blessing in these prayers? Do you struggle with their “wrote-ness”?
4. As Peterson unpacks the “Lord’s Prayer” in Matthew, was there anything new that struck you?
5. What else would you like to say about these chapters?

Week Three
Chapter 11 of Tell it Slant
Luke 18:9-14

For this session, we are focusing on chapter 11 of Peterson’s book. In this chapter, Peterson unpacks the parable of two men who come to the temple to pray. One is a Pharisee and one is a tax collector. The Pharisee thanks God that he is not like the tax collector and the tax collector asks for mercy. The title of Peterson’s book is a dead giveaway for what he thinks the point of this story is: They are both sinners. So what’s going on here? Why does Jesus tell us this story. To put is simply Jesus is focusing on the hypocrisy of the religious and shows how damaging that hypocrisy can be.

Discussion questions:
1. Hypocrite is a popular critique of christians. Do you see truth in it? How?
2. How does Jesus use language to show us the approaches that we take before God and others?
3. What does your prayer life look like? How do you pray and how do you see yourself in prayer?
4. How does being in community help our prayer life? What do you think Peterson is getting at with “honest sinners?”
5. What else would you like to say about this chapter or parable.

Week Two
Chapter 2 of Tell it slant
Luke 10:25-37

We dive into Peterson’s book as he tells the familiar parable of the “Good Samaritan.” This is a strange and intriguing story. Here is Jesus, being tested by a lawyer about his identity. The lawyer wants to make sure that Jesus is who he claims to be so he asks him a question that is rooted in the law but so much bigger than abstract intellectualism. He asks about what it means to be a neighbor and “who is my neighbor?” And that is where the God talks meets the action of loving neighbor.

Discussion questions:
1. What did you hear that was new to you in the chapter or story?
2. Given what we read, how would you define neighbor? Who is your neighbor?
3. As we watch the lawyer and Jesus interact, what strikes you about their conversation? What did you think of the way Peterson frames their conversation?
4. How does Jesus use language in this parable to consider our lives of faith differently?
5. What is most challenging to you about this story?
6. What is the most comforting thing about this story?

Week One

In the introduction and Chapter one, Peterson begins to unfold his case for words. And not just “holy” “god-talk” words, but all of our words. Peterson states from the beginning that all our talk matters. Like most things we create spiritual and non-spiritual categories of life and our language is no different. Peterson seeks to challenge us in this book to bridge the divide between human and divine in our words. And, he uses the best possible example of this—Jesus Christ, our Lord. It is Christ who used the everyday to speak truth to us about our lives and it is this example that we seek to follow. In these first pages, Peterson sets the scene. Jesus is on the road to Jerusalem in Luke’s gospel. On the way, Jesus begins to tell his friends parables—stories of life.

Discussion questions:
1. What are some words or phrases that you would consider “God-talk?” Are there things or ways you speak that are unique to your faith?
2. Parables tell us about God without talking directly about God. What movies, novels, musicians, artists, etc. have done this for you? (question taken from Tell it Slant study guide pg. 7)
3. What powerful stories have you heard and believed about yourself, others, God?
4. Where do the most powerful stories and/or words that speak to you take place? Church? Kitchen? Coffee shop? On a walk? What do these places say about language and meaning?
5. What do you hope to learn about Jesus and his parables through this study?
6. Anything else from the text you wish to share?