A while back we received a call informing us that a church which had purchased this small-group DVD would be returning it. The gentleman was upset with the sixth session, entitled Grace Put to the Test. The session talks about extending grace to homosexuals. He wanted something that came down a little firmer on the sin aspect of homosexuality. After learning about this, I was interested to work through this small group curriculum.
Philip Yancey says that he wrote the corresponding book "because grace is not the first word that comes to mind when people think of Christians." The DVD is a "ten-session investigation of grace". Within your small group, you will follow Philip Yancey explore this issue of grace. The DVD directs your group to a participant guide (which ideally each person, or couple, would have) and asks questions to spark discussion. Throughout, stories are told of people who have been shown grace, & of people who were not extended grace. These people share how grace has helped them heal, come to Christ, forgive their offender and move on in their relationships.
The sessions range from understanding the concept of grace, to the grace that God gave us (& continues to give us), to grace within relationships. In each session, the group starts off hearing an introduction to the study by Mr. Yancey for a few minutes. This leads to questions to consider within you small group. The next DVD portion is longer - about 20 minutes or so. Your group follows this up with questions pertaining to the stories & concepts brought up. For those who wish to dig deeper, the Participant's Guide directs you to chapters Mr. Yancey's book, What's So Amazing About Grace?, which correspond.
In regards to the session on homosexuality, Yancey begins the session saying that the point of this section is not to get into the issue of homosexuality, but into the story of grace in regards to homosexuals. The segment does not condemn homosexuality (in so many words, at least. The subtitle is "Grace in the face of disagreement"). The segment demostrates love & grace shown to someone.
Is homosexuality wrong - yes. It is against God's created order. Does this mean that we do not love gay people - absolutely not. Most people would not disagree with this, however. But it is more difficult to walk than talk. The first thing that the church should show them is love, not condemnation. This is the model that Jesus showed us - in John 8 to the woman caught in adultry. He extends her grace and says that he does not condemn her. After all that, he tells her not to sin anymore. Save the sermons until after they know you actually care about them. No one will listen unless they know you care.
This study is an excellent exploration of grace - one of the most intriguing & beautiful words we know. Gordon MacDonald says that "grace is the one thing the church has that you can't get anywhere else." Let this study help your group learn how to broaden there grace-giving.
What's So Amazing About Grace? (book)
What's So Amazing About Grace? (study guide for the book)
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