Here is the curriculum for the week of March 23. Our topic is “You and Your City: Community” and our text is Acts 20:2-16.
- Sermon Notes & Discussion Guide for FFC Ankeny (.pdf)
- Sermon Notes & Discussion Guide for FFC Bondurant (.pdf)
- Lighthouse Leader Study Guide (.pdf)
- Review your calendar for the next month. Easter is the week of April 14-20.
- Fireside Chats–Your Elder will begin contacting you in the next couple of weeks to setup your Spring Fireside Chat sometime in April.
- YMCA Outreach–Every Saturday afternoon, various families and groups from First Family bring food to those staying at the YMCA Supportive Housing Campus in Downtown Des Moines. While sharing a meal, there are folks there to share the gospel with those eating. Tony Didlo coordinates this outreach, and is looking for families or Lighthouses willing to join him for a Saturday, help prepare a simple meal, and then take the food down to the YMCA Campus. You can plan on approximately four hours on a Saturday, from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm. You meet here at First Family. For more information, please write YMCA on your Feedback Card or contact Tony at 419-3975 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Overview of this Lesson:
We’ve all been there—the night was long, the room extremely comfortable, and the pastor’s voice is soothing, like a soft lullaby. It can be pure torture to try and stay awake! That’s the setting for this week’s lesson. Only the speaker was the Apostle Paul and the young man who fell asleep fell to his death.
It was a tragic scene in the midst of a beautiful picture of a first century church service.
We learn many things from this week’s text in Acts 20 including:
- Sunday, the first day of the week, had become the day of worship for the Christian church, setting aside the Jewish Sabbath day.
- The early church met in homes. (Buildings designated as churches did not become the norm until the third century.)
- The church celebrated the Lord’s Supper (Communion) when they gathered together.
- The worship services were long!
As you study this week’s lesson, we see elements of the early church that were both descriptive, meaning they simply provide a picture of what the early church was like, and elements that were prescriptive, meaning they provide instruction for us today as we seek to model our church after the principles found in Scripture for a New Testament Church.
On the practical side, we will focus on how to listen to a sermon. At first glance, this may seem like a rather elementary concept to focus on, but in our day of instant messaging, shared pictures, and messages limited to 140 characters, listening to someone speak for any length of time can be a challenge.
Even in schools today, teachers are taught to “chunk” information and make their teaching as interactive as possible in order to maintain a child’s limited attention span during a class period.
While the world is trending towards shorter, shallow teaching times, we must recognize that the sermon is still one of the most important discipleship tools in the Christian’s Bible study toolbox.
As Thabiti Anyabwile notes in his book, What Is A Healthy Church Member? (Amazon.com):
Few things are more discouraging or dishonoring to [faithful pastors] than a congregation inattentive to the Word of God. Faithful men flourish at the fertile reception of the preached Word. They’re made all the more bold when their people give ear to the Lord’s voice and give evidence of being shaped by it. As church members, we can care for our pastors and teacher and help to prevent unnecessary discouragement and fatigue by cultivating the habit of expositional listening.
John Piper offers this encouragement:
When you hear preaching or read your Bible take hold of it like a miser taking hold of gold and silver. Take hold of it like a pearl of great price and a treasure in a field. Take hold of it like a drowning man seizes a float. Fight off every word-destroying demonic bird and burning affliction and deceitful desire. Then you will “have” and “more will be given.” You will bear fruit with patience.
A few weeks ago, Pastor Todd mentioned a book that has helped him develop the discipline of listening to sermons. The book is Listen Up! A Practical Guide to Listening to Sermons. (While it’s listed as a book, it is only 31 pages long. You can find it on Amazon.com for $2.99 (Kindle) or $3.99 (paperback).)
In this book, Christopher Ash provides seven ingredients to help modern-day students of the Bible get the most from a sermon:
- Expect God to speak.
- Admit God knows better than you.
- Check the preacher says what the passage says.
- Hear the sermon in church (as opposed to solely listening to sermons on the internet).
- Be there week by week.
- Do what the Bible says.
- Do what the Bible says today — and rejoice!
At the end of this week’s study guide, I’ve provided a short article by George Whitefield on “How to Listen to a Sermon,” which suggests that even in the 1700s, there could be challenges to listening to the Word of God preached.
Sermon in a Sentence
“Living life together in community, both formally and informally, isn’t optional; it is the norm of the New Testament Church.”
Here are some upcoming dates that may affect Lighthouses this semester. Keep these on your radar.
- Fireside Chats—April 1-30
- Easter Experience—April 13-20
- Easter Holiday (Church Offices Closed)—April 21
- Mother’s Day—May 11
- Graduation Sunday—May 18
- Spring Lighthouse Season Ends—May 23
- Labor Day Holiday (Church Offices Closed)—May 26