This session is meant to be done together as a servant leadership team as a hands on training session. Treat the first section as a bible study, revisiting Ephesians 4 for the third time in this training series, and filling in the gaps, as has been alluded to in other training sessions, with this final one. After digging into God’s word and praying, be prepared to share real life examples of where you are struggling to believe the gospel, believe rightly about who you are and/or who God is. Allow others to speak the gospel into your life, and come ready to lovingly do the same to your team members. If you don’t have anyone to practice this with, an Agape Moms coach is always available. These skills are essential to facilitating an Agape Moms group because we bring everything back to the gospel! If you need more help with the basics of small group leading, we offer some basics in our Launch Packet, which you’ll receive once you’re finished with this session and simply contact us! However, we believe that loving others and learning to speak the gospel into all of life by the power of the Spirit is the foundation of any group facilitator, many of the other skills come with time and experience.
Speaking the Truth of the Gospel in Love...
By Speaking the truth of gospel in love, the Body will help each other grow in Christ by... (Ephesians 4:15)
Equipping each other for works of service (vs 11)
Building up the body, reaching unity in faith & knowledge of Jesus (vs 12)
Becoming discerning, no longer infants tossed by false doctrine (vs 14)
The body grows as it builds itself up in LOVE, as each part does its work. (vs 16)
When speaking the truth of the gospel in love, we do so in light of the interconnected, relational nature of The Body
Relationship corporately- as you are both part of the same Body, and so when one members hurts or struggles, you hurt too.
Relationship personally- you’re willing to help them walk this out and invest in their growth in this area, not just truth bomb them.
Relationship with Jesus- pointing your friend back to Jesus as the only remedy for their sin. Speaking the gospel into their struggles.
Speaking the truth in love is not an excuse to truth bomb someone, that in itself is not loving
If you truly love another member of your Body, you will be committed to seeing through the growth and restoration of the person you are going to speak the truth of the gospel to, in love, because your ultimate concern is for them to grow closer to God, and to mature in Christ.
Since JESUS and the power of the GOSPEL is the only way that we can defeat the sin patterns in our lives, then THE GOSPEL is the TRUTH we must be continually speaking into each others lives!
Not shaming each other (or ourselves) because we fail again!
Not pointing out each others faults without the hope of the gospel and power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8, Galatians 3)
It's all about learning to speak the gospel 24/7!
Notes below are adapted from "Gospel Fluency" by Jeff Vanderstelt
If you revisit the "Training Springboard" page, you will remember that "Galatians For You" by Tim Keller was part 1 of your reading to equip you for this training, and then part 2 is reading "Gospel Fluency" by Jeff Vanderstelt. Below are some exercises and questions pulled out of this incredible resource, but they definitely only scratch the surface of this book. If you want to learn how to speak the gospel into the everyday stuff of life, as Jeff says, this book will not only enhance your own spiritual walk, but absolutely the health and life of your Agape Moms family.
"Gospel Fluency" describes our ability to speak, relate and connect the gospel to every aspect of life- the “everyday stuff of life.” Below are helpful questions, examples and exercises to speak and preach the gospel to our own hearts multiple times a day, as well as others. It is life-giving to speak Jesus into the smallest and largest issues that we face everyday, instead of speaking the weights of try harder religion. I pray this will be a central aspect of your walk with Jesus and Agape Moms life!
For this remaining portion of this session, I spent time with my training group role playing real life examples for these questions. We would take turn offering a real life struggle we were facing, and then allow each other to practice speaking the gospel into each other's lives. We want to make sure we have lots of practice preaching the gospel to our own hearts, as well as speaking it out loud to each other, because we will be doing a lot of this during discussion time as well as one on one time with our mamas. If possible, grab a Christian friend, even if they aren't involved with training and ask them to do this exercise out loud together. If you don't have anyone, practice applying these questions to common issues moms face, and think through the way you would speak the gospel into these struggles in your conversations.
General Gospel Fluency Questions
These questions are good to commit to memory and can be asked as a general follow up when someone is struggling and you are trying to help shepherd their heart back to the good news of Jesus. You should definitely ask yourselves these same questions regularly as well. These are great transitional questions during discussions when perhaps you're not sure what to say or how to reel it back in. When in doubt, we always bring it back to the cross and resurrection of Jesus!
1.) How does the gospel bring good news to the situation?
2.) What about the gospel do we need to hear right now?
3.) What about the gospel have we forgotten, or failed to believe?
4.) How is Jesus better than what we have or what we want?
Specific flow of questions to relate to everyday problems
Example: Bad job with a bad boss, taken from chapter 11 in Gospel Fluency
1.) Who is God/Jesus?
He is the True and better [_________]
2.) What has he done? What is he doing?
3.) Who are we in light of that work?
4.) How should we live in light of who we are?
1.) Jesus is her Lord, her true and better Boss. Her great, merciful and generous boss. She may never see her boss change, or get relief from her hardship, but she can cling to Jesus, who is able to sympathize with her in all of her human struggles, since he also faced them.
2.) How do we know he’s a good boss? He did not come to be served, he came to serve and give his life as a ransoms for her. He didn’t give her the wages she deserved. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus our Lord. He sat down at the right hand of God the Father where he is making constant intercession, speaking great words on her behalf.
3.) Who is she in light of that work?
She is seated with him in the heavenly realms, a child of God, approved of by the father. A beneficiary of all that belongs to Jesus. She now serves as an ambassador of the king of kings! While she may have a crummy boss right now, she serves a much greater 'Boss,' and everything she does, even for her earthly boss, can be done for the glory God.
4.) How should she live?
She is seated with him in the heavenly realms. A child of God. Approved of by the father, so she doesn’t need her boss's approval. She may not experience a fix from her trial, but she can still live with joy and confidence because of her relationship and standing with Jesus. She can love her boss and work heartily, as unto the Lord, out of gratitude for what He has done for her. She knows that the momentary troubles pale in comparison to her eternal reward. She knows God uses hardship to drive her to her knees and to rely on Jesus more. She can glory in this!
Other notes: It’s easy to get caught up in people's problems, instead of pointing them to Jesus, we just complain with them about how horrible it is and how they deserve better, even trying to be positive and saying that we’re sure things will get better. This robs everyone the opportunity to connect the gospel freedom and hope to a bad situation. Circumstances may not get better, but we can always pray with them and we can always point them to Jesus. Don't rob others the opportunity to cling to Jesus and God's promises during our hardships, instead of clinging to the hope that our circumstances will get better.
Tree Fruit & Root Exercise
Staying connected to the Vine: See John 15
Draw a tree. On the left side you will draw bad fruit and bad roots, and on the right side, good fruit and good roots.
1.) Ask what bad “fruit” is being experienced?
Draw: bad "fruit" of worry/fear on the left side of the top of your tree (like fruit)
2.) Ask what bad “root” is feeding the bad fruit?
2a.) What are you wrongly believing about yourself?
Example: I need to be in control to prevent bad things, but I can’t so I have anxiety.
Draw: bad roots below your bad fruit on the left
2b.) What are you wrongly believing about God?
Example: I don’t trust He has my best interest at heart, to be in control, or good
Draw: bad roots on the left, as an even deeper root feeding your last roots.
3.) Ask what good “root” would produce good “fruit”?
3a.) What is a right view of yourself here?
Example: I’m not in control. I am a sinner needing grace. I am desperate for Jesus.
Draw: A good root on the right, a true statement about yourself in light of the Gospel.
3b.) What do we know to be true about God in this?
Example: God loves me despite my sin and shortcomings. He loves me even though I desire to be in control and fail to trust Him. He gives me Jesus to remedy my bad root & fruit issues of control and anxiety. He gives me the promises in His word about how He is trust worthy, good and true.
4.) How does continually putting our faith in the person and promises of God change the root of our hearts and fruit of our lives from bad to good? Draw more connections between the bad fruit/root side and the good fruit/root side being connected to Jesus, The Vine, or stemming from wrong beliefs about self and God.
Example: The more we identify the lies we are believing about ourselves and God, and internalize God's truth about ourselves and Him, the more this will affect the sort of fruit that comes out of our life. To attack the fruit first is to never address the source, and the remedy is always in Jesus.
Draw: good fruit on the right as you apply and process the implications of internalizing good gospel root truth! (of course all by the power of the Holy Spirit)
The Gospel Grid: Adapted from The Gospel Centered Life by Thune & Walker
The Gospel-Centered Life and the Gospel Centered Community are two books that should be done back to back, and easily fill the entire calendar of a school year. We did these books once we had a solid core of moms coming to Agape Moms, because they really dig into the implications of the gospel for all of life and everyone absolutely loves these books!
Please click over here for an excellent summary of the books, along with some images of the Gospel Grid, Shrinking the Cross, and The Cross Chart. Bo Salisbury did such an excellent job summarizing these books and including the graphics that I didn't feel the need to write my own here. It would be a good idea to add these books to your reading list after completing Galatians for You by Tim Keller, and Gospel Fluency, by Jeff Vanderstelt. It's very helpful to read ahead of your group so you can more effectively lead when the time comes.
A summary of gospel-Centeredness by Tim keller
Tim Keller summarizes in this article, borrowing much from Galatians For You, but a great reference for yourself or to point others to. As this is our last session in training, I'd recommend reading it to make sure you, along with your servant leaders, have a very solid grasp on gospel-centeredness and speaking the gospel into all of life. You will be reframing a lot of discussions in your group, and even having to take pre-written applications of things and take it that step further to connect it back to gospel-freedom and Jesus Christ. As a Gospel shepherd of other moms, see it as your God-given responsibility to nurture moms with so much grace and love, again and again, back to the good news of Jesus. You will need to "preach the gospel" to your own heart again and again too. It will become the central aspect of all of life, and what a wonderful and freeing thing it is, to bring everything back to Jesus, instead of anything or anyone else.
"I'm laying down all my religion
I'm laying down
I want to know you, LORD
I will rejoice in the simple gospel
I will rejoice in you LORD!
I reach out and your find me in the dust
you say no amount of untruth can separate us"
There aren't much better lyrics to lead our hearts in worship after this final session. The line, "you say no amount of untruth can separate us" used to stick out to me in a bad way, it ruffled my religious feathers, thinking, well of course if someone thinks wrongly about God, it WILL separate them from Him. And while this is true to some extent, every truth must be filtered by the authority of scripture, even as believers we have to admit that we still harbor untruths.
We all have "untruths" or things we are still struggling to believe rightly about God and rightly about ourselves, and so let's rejoice that these untruths do not in fact separate us from God, because God is not finished with us yet. He still pursues us despite our sin, and despite our failing, again and again. This is why we all need the gospel preached to our hearts 24/7.
Let's lay down our religion, let's lay down trying to box God into the neat and tidy parameters that we make up for Him, and let's rejoice in the simple Gospel- it's all about Jesus! Let's make our life pursuit about 24/7 speaking the gospel of Jesus into every aspect of our lives and others.