Below are prompts (usually in the form of questions) for sharing and reflecting to be used by tiny GROUPS. Wait, what is a tiny GROUP?  We invite you to use these as far as they are helpful in partnering with the Holy Spirit for the purpose of Christoformity.

In addition to these resources, we have provided a simple liturgy designed for mutual confession of sin.

A great musical companion for this series is our Songs of Ascent Playlist on Spotify.

Current SeriesA Long Obedience In The Same Direction (Commemorative Edition) by Eugene H Peterson | SHOPtheWORD

January – May 2021: All materials are based on the book A Long Obedience in the Same Direction by Eugene Peterson

Chapter 13: Humility (Psalm 131)

Read Psalm 131 together with your tiny GROUP. Talk about what stands out to you.

1. What ancient temptations have become “monuments” in our culture today? How have you responded to them?

2. Which practices of Christian discipleship have helped your faith mature from either “arrogant pride” or “infantile dependency” into the “childlike trust of waiting upon the Lord”.

3. A weaned child is content to be in the parent’s presence, knowing he is safe and free, loving the parent for who they are. When have you related to God in this way?


Chapter 12: Hope (Psalm 130)

Read Psalm 130 together with your tiny GROUP. Talk about what stands out to you.

1. Reflect on a time when you were in the “depths” of sin. From the perspective of Psalm 130, describe how God revived your Spirit.

2. How are Biblical Hope and optimism different from one another?

3. What gives you hope today? What does it mean to you to wait and hope?

Pray for one another that God would deepen your hope in this season of Eastertide.


Chapter 11: Perseverance (Psalm 129)

Read Psalm 129 together as a tiny GROUP. What stands out to you?

1. Eugene Peterson suggests that the way of Christian discipleship involves:

  • paying more attention to Gods’s righteousness and less to our own.
  • Finding life’s meaning not by self actuation but by trusting in God’s will and purposes for us.
  • Patient perseverance.

Which of these currently challenges you?

2. What season in your life has called forth the greatest need for perseverance? Talk to your tiny GROUP partner(s) about what this was / is like.
3. Consider visualizing God’s faithfulness: Draw a visual landscape of your life (hills, valleys, rocky paths etc) then identify and record those times when God’s faithfulness has been especially evident. Use this visualization to talk about your experience with God’s faithfulness.

Chapter 10: Happiness (Psalm 128)

Read Psalm 128 together as a tiny GROUP. What stands out to you?

1. Have you had a problem with the idea of “fearing” God? What do you think of Eugene Peterson’s definition…. fearing God is (standing at) “awesome attention before the overwhelming grandeur of God”?

2. Have you ever tried to put a piece of IKEA furniture together your own way (apart from directions) and then found it so much easier when you ultimately gave in and read the instructions? What do you think of this as a potential analogy for walking on God’s “smooth straight road”?

3. What is the meaning of “blessing” to you? How does this Psalm shape your thoughts about blessing?


Chapter 9: Work (Psalm 127)

Read Psalm 127 together as a tiny GROUP. What strikes you about this Psalm?

In what ways are you aware that God is at work in your life? What is he building? (Potential definition of work: a way of being in creative relationship with God, where my effort is at the periphery and God’s work is at the center. He initiates; I respond)

Have you ever found yourself suddenly coming to the realization that you were compulsively trying to do God’s work for him? What brought about that insight? What was causing you to try to do God’s work for Him? What might it look like to live trusting God to do His work?

The Psalm uses the imagery of the blessing of children. Who are the “children” God has given you through your investing in a personal relationship?


Chapter 8: Joy (Psalm 126)

Read chapter 8 and then discuss the following questions with your tiny GROUP partner(s)

1. Have you had experiences in life that felt like captivity? What freed you? In what way have you experienced Jesus’ resurrection bringing freedom and joy to your life?

2. Think about your current circumstances: Share about how you might be able to choose joy today in spite of the difficulties and even sorrows in your life.

3. End your time together by reading Philippians 4:4-7, 10-13. Pray for a greater experience of the joy of the Lord for each other.


Chapter 7: Security – “God encircles His people” (Psalm 125)

Prayer for this week: (Breastplate of St. Patrick)
“Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me. Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ in quiet, Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.” Amen

1. What has reminded you recently that God is in control? Why is it so easy to forget this core truth?

2. How do you experience God surrounding you, “as the mountains surround Jerusalem”?

3. Consider asking if someone in your tiny GROUP is especially in need of prayer, then physically stand next to them (surround them in a symbolic way) and spend time praying for them; end with the prayer of St. Patrick above. Process together what this was like?

 


Chapter 6: Help for hazards along the way (Psalm 124)

Read the psalm together and then discuss these questions:

1. Do you spend more time talking about your trials and challenges or about God’s help? Not sure? Consider asking your tiny GROUP partner(s).

2. Swallowed alive by a dragon or overwhelmed in a flash flood; which describes a “catastrophe” you’ve experienced? Did you feel abandoned by friends, family, God? If you can now say; “blessed be God!…He didn’t abandon me defenseless”, describe what happened.

3. Eugene Peterson gives us a principle for the journey on page 79; “it is the help we experience, not the hazards we risk, that shape our days.” Is that a new perspective?  In what way has it made a difference to have your tiny group accompany you, “traveling in the light, toward God who is rich in mercy and strong to save.”

 


Chapter 5 – Service: a servant Christian – the freest person on earth (Psalm 123)

Reflect on these questions together with your tiny GROUP partner(s):

1. In your day-to-day life, how do you assume “an attentive posture to the Master’s commands”? What are the factors in your life that work against this posture?

2. Have you ever worshipped either the god-who-gets-you-out-of-jams or the god-of-impossible-expectations? How did you come to experience the mercy of God the Potter?

3. In light of your own hurts, hang-ups, and/or addictions, what does it mean that “our real problem is not in achieving freedom but in learning service under a better master”?

 


Week 4: Worship (Psalm 122)

A brief summary of where we are in the book…

Chapter 1 – Out of an environment of deceit and hostility and on the way to God.
Chapter 2 – Repentance: ”Yes” to God and “No” to the world. Psalm 120.
Chapter 3 – Trusting God in the midst of every difficulty. Psalm 121.
This week – Worship: the common background to all Christian existence. 

Read Psalm 122 out loud together with your tiny GROUP partner(s)

1. What excuses have you used in the past for not attending church? Why is it sometimes tempting to skip worship?
2. In what ways have you experienced worship providing a structure or framework for your life?
3. Which of Peterson’s insightful definitions of PEACE would you like to add on Sundays when we “pass the peace”?
  • May God’s will be complete in you. 
  • May God’s work be accomplished in you.
  • May God release in you streams of living water. 
4. Worship focuses us on God, but it’s also where we pause to be strengthened for the next step of the journey. Talk with your tiny GROUP partner(s) about the ways in which you are feeling the need for a strengthening pause.

Consider ending your time by saying the Te Deum Laudamus, an ancient worship canticle found on pg. 17 in the BCP together as a tiny GROUP: “We praise you O God; we acclaim you as Lord. All creation worships you, the Father everlasting….“)


Week 3: Chapter 3 – based on Psalm 121

1. What “traveller’s advisory” would you give yourself at this particular moment in your journey of faith?

2. Psalm 121 prevents “the only serious mistake we can make” – “supposing that God’s interest in us waxes and wanes in response to our spiritual temperature”.
Was there a verse(s) of Psalm 121 that was especially meaningful to you this week?

3. Eugene Peterson states that, while a Christian will experience the same troubles as everyone else, “the evil of pain will not touch you.” What does that mean to you?

 


Week 2: Repentance (chapter 2 – based on Psalm 120)

1.  Read Psalm 120 together with your tiny GROUP partners. What strikes you from this Psalm?
2. In chapter two Eugene Peterson presents several unique definitions of repentance. Which one resonates with you?
Repentance is:
  • The “no” we say to the world’s lies and the “yes” we say to God’s truth.
  • A decision to follow Jesus Christ and become his pilgrim on the path of peace.
  • Turning to God.
  • A catalytic change agent
  • The first word in Christian immigration, setting us on the way to traveling in the light.
3.  Here are a few “worldly lies” identified in Chapter two:
  • Things are alright and getting better.
  • Everyone is born equal, innocent, self-sufficient, and free.
  • Human beings are basically nice and good.
  • God is non-existent or unconcerned.
  • I can manage my own life and be my own God.
  • I have the strength, education, and training to make it on my own.
  • Human initiative determines history.
What “lies” have you believed about your life or about the world in which we live? What were/are the consequences? Where has the truth of Christ / the gospel confronted these lies?

Week 1: Discipleship (chapter 1)

1. Eugene Peterson sees the desire for what is quickly and easily acquired as a characteristic of our age. How would you describe the atmosphere or “zeitgeist” of the world you inhabit and how has it affected your walk with Christ?
2. Tourist (interested in the high points, impatient for results); disciple (apprenticed to the Master, growing in faith); or pilgrim (on the faith journey with others) – which best describes you?
3. Eugene Peterson defines a long obedience in the same direction as “the conscious and continuous effort of a life lived upward to God.” Has an experience in your tiny GROUP encouraged you to keep going and persevere in your faith journey?
4. Living in the time of Covid can feel like “a trapeze artist hanging in mid air”. If “everyone who travels the road of faith requires assistance from time to time”, where have you found courage, support and inner direction?

 


Past tiny GROUP resources

Week 19: The Loving Heart: The Holy Spirit / Wrap-up


Class notes

tiny GROUP reflection prompts:

  • How have you experienced (or not experienced) the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life?
  • What would it look like to love others with the love that has been poured into your heart by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5) as compared to loving from your own love?
  • When you think about the idea of cultivating hospitality for the Spirit, what disciplines, practices, relationships do you imagine you would need to grow? What might you need to remove from your life?

END OF SEASON REFLECTION:

  • What has been most impactful for you about this focus on the Heart over the past 18 weeks? Where are some areas of continued learning / growth?
  • As you wrap-up this season of tiny GROUPS: Discuss together the strengths of your tiny GROUP experience. Is there anything that you want to thank your tiny GROUP partner(s) for? Is there anything else you want to say that has been left unsaid from previous conversations? Is there anything you’d like to do different next time?

Clarifying Note: Unless you mutually decide and agree to continue on as tiny GROUP partners, this is your last week together.

 


Week 18: The Loving Heart: Pursuit

Class notes

tiny GROUP reflection prompts:

  • We often think about us pursuing God (which is definitely part of the story – “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” – Jeremiah 29:13). But the key foundational reality revealed to us in the Scriptures is about God’s pursuit of us (“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” – Luke 19:10). In what ways have you experienced God pursuing you? Share with your tiny GROUP partner(s)
  • In what ways have you experienced another person pursuing you from a heart of love? What did that feel like?
  • What inhibits you from pursuing others in love? What would it look like for you to take a risk to pursue someone in Christian love? Note: this question is actually NOT about romantic love – which is perhaps a related topic, but not the focus of what we have been talking about.
  • Are there any sinful tendencies that you need to confess? (i.e. using people, laziness, fearing people, self-protection, etc.) Consider using the liturgy of confession with your tiny GROUP partner(s).

 


Week 17: The Loving Heart: Forgiveness continued…

Class notes

tiny GROUP reflection prompts:

  • In Matthew 18:15-18, Jesus outlines a practice of honest confrontation of someone who has sinned against us. What is your level of comfort with this kind of confrontation? How, if ever, have you seen it go well? Where does it usually go off the rails if it isn’t going to go well?
  • Have you ever had a situation where YOU had offended someone, but you didn’t even know it until they came to you much later. How did it feel when they finally came to you?
  • Not every “bump and bruise” from community life is worthy of a Matthew 18 confrontation. How might we determine when a conversation is necessary and when one isn’t?
  • Is there anyone that you need to have an honest conversation with and tell about how they have wounded you? Are there any people in your life who have grown cold toward you and to whom you might be able to go to and inquire if there is something you have done to bring distance between you? Consider making a list. Without gossiping, ask your tiny GROUP partners to pray for you to have humility and courage… real love for any people on your list.

 


Week 16: The Loving Heart: Forgiveness

Class notes

tiny GROUP reflection prompts:

  • Read Psalm 103:1-14. In what ways have you experienced the forgiveness of God? How do you know you are forgiven?
  • Have you ever been forgiven in a deep and meaningful way by someone (other than God)? What was that like? Share with your tiny GROUP partner(s).
  • Alternatively, have you ever been forgiven (or offered forgiveness) in a cavalier or even hurtful way? What went wrong? What was lacking?
  • Is there anyone in your life that you need to forgive? Consider exploring with your tiny GROUP what that might look like to forgive this person (next steps, deeper levels of forgiveness, etc.). Pray for one another about forgiveness…

 


Week 15: The Joyful Heart: Peace & Contentment

Class notes

tiny GROUP reflection prompts:

  • When you look at your own life, what typically causes your heart to lack peace & contentment? Can you put your finger on what it is? Is there a lack of integrity / integration in your life (values matching actual desires/behaviors)? A lack of discipline? Is there a relational issue causing you restlessness or agitation? (Note: the Church’s historic answer to addressing this is the practice of confession. Consider practicing confession as a tiny GROUP or making an appointment with a priest or spiritual director.
  • Describe a time / season of life when you experienced a deep peace and contentment in your life? What contributed to that?
  • Jesus tells His disciples in John 14, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” He seems to assume they have significant agency over the troubled or untroubled state of their hearts. In what ways are we able to guide our own hearts toward peace? What is the role of the Holy Spirit (mentioned later in the passage)?
  • Paul talks about learning to be content in all circumstances in Philippians chapter 4. How do you think he came to the place of being able to say that? What would it take for you to be able to say something similar for yourself?

 


Week 14: The Joyful Heart: Generosity

Class notes

tiny GROUP reflection prompts:

  • Think about all of the people in your life: who is the most generous person you know? What does his/her generosity look like in practice? What do you imagine motivates his/her generosity? 
  • When does generosity come easily for you? And on the other hand, when is it difficult? What might it look like to “practice” generosity?
  • Jesus says, “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” If your treasure is a good indicator as Jesus says, where is YOUR heart? (i.e., where do you effortlessly spend / invest your money?)
  • In Acts 20:35, Paul quotes Jesus as saying, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Have you experienced this? What do you have that you can give / share besides just money (though, of course, money is a great thing to give as well)?
  • OPTIONAL | GOING DEEPER: If your tiny GROUP has developed adequate trust and rapport, you may want to explore some deeper conversations about money in reference to Christ: talk together about patterns of earning, saving, spending, and giving. One of the challenges many American Christians have is that no one really knows what is going on with this very important part of their life. They have no one to whom to confess, no one to discern with, no one to share concerns with, no accountability, etc. This is a great opportunity for tiny GROUPS to meet a practical need. 

 

 

 


Week 13: The Joyful Heart: Thanksgiving (aka the grateful heart)

Class notes

tiny GROUP reflection prompts: 

  • Think of a time in your life when you struggled with feeling and/or expressing gratitude. What was happening in your life / heart at that time? Share a bit about this with your tiny GROUP partner(s). On the other hand, think of a time when you felt a steady stream of thanksgiving. What caused that?
  • What gratitude practices / disciplines do you have in your life currently? (Toward God and toward others)
  • Spend time discussing and reflecting on Colossians 3:16-17. What strikes you about this passage? How might you put this into practice this week?
  • What would it look like for you to live in a state of perpetual thanksgiving toward God? Try to imagine it together with your tiny GROUP partner(s).

 


Week 12: The Joyful Heart

Class notes

tiny GROUP reflection prompts: 

  • Think about a time when you have experienced biblical joy. What did it feel like? What contributed to you experiencing such joy? 
  • Read Luke 15:1-32 (parables of lost sheep, lost coin, lost brothers). What stands out to you in these passages regarding joy? What character in the story of the two brothers do you most identify with? 
  • What, if anything, about your current life is stealing your joy? 
  • The passage in Luke refers multiple times to repentance. Is there anything you would like to confess (consider reflecting on both sins of omission and commission)? 
  • How would you practice joy in your life? What are the disciplines of rejoicing?

 


Week 11: The (Heavy) Heart – Summary / Practical Reflection

Class notes

tiny GROUP reflection prompts: 

  • As you evaluate yourself, how aware are you of the actual feelings / emotions that you experience in relationship to your heavy heart? Do you have language that captures how you feel?
  • Have you ever experienced your negative emotions as a gift? How so?
  • Reflect together as a tiny GROUP on Paul’s perspective described in II Corinthians 1:3-11. What stands out to you in this passage?
  • What would it look like for you to pursue healing for your heavy heart in a distinctly Christian way… one which would result in you experiencing a deeper sense of communion with Christ and His body? What is your next step toward healing?

 


Week 10: The (Heavy) Heart – Despondency


Class notes

tiny GROUP reflection prompts: 

  • Discuss the idea of despondency (acedia). Where have you seen this restlessness in yourself? What does it look like in your life? How would you distinguish it from feelings of depression that you may have had?
  • Why is it difficult to live in the present, attentive to God? What practices or disciplines would help you counter despondency?
  • Read through Psalm 42 together three times. The first time, just listen to it. What do you notice? What stands out to you? The second time, ask God to speak to you: Listen for a word or phrase that resonates more deeply. The third time, try to make the Psalm your prayer.

 


Week 9: The (Heavy) Heart – Anxiety

Class notes

tiny GROUP reflection prompts: 

  • What are you tempted to cling to for safety that isn’t Christ? What do you use to secure yourself? (money, a co-dependent relationship, etc.)
  • Where do you struggle with control? Where might God be asking you to loosen your grip so that you can cling to Him more fully and be open opportunities to trust Him?
  • Read Psalm 27 together. What words or phrases stand out to you? What might God be trying to say to you through this passage?

 


Week 8: The (Heavy) Heart – Disappointment

Class notes

tiny GROUP reflection prompts: 

  • What is a significant disappointment that you’ve experienced in life? What disappointments are you wrestling with currently?
  • What do your disappointments reveal to you about your expectations of God / others?
  • Are there any places in your life where your disappointment has turned into distrust of God or bitterness toward God or others? Consider using the liturgy of confession and confessing these to your tiny GROUP partner(s) or making an appointment with a priest for the sacrament of confession/reconciliation.
  • Read and discuss together James 4:13-17. How might you take some steps toward embracing a posture of humility?
  • End your time together by each naming five things that you are grateful for (in the form of a prayer – i.e. directed to God).

 


Week 7: The (Heavy) Heart – Lament

Class notes

tiny GROUP reflection prompts: 

  • Share a time when you were able to properly lament (in the Biblical sense) some aspect of grief in your life? What did you do? What helped aid your lament?
  • How comfortable are you being unfiltered and uncensored with God? What about with others you trust?
  • Where is there pain/sorrow/disappointment/grief in your life that you haven’t been able to truly lament? What would help you enter more deeply into a faithful practice of lament?
  • Utilizing a Biblical psalm of lament, take time to say/pray it together. (Recommended Psalms of Lament = Psalm 10, 73, 139)

 


Week 6: The (Heavy) Heart – Grief

Class notes

tiny GROUP reflection prompts: 

  • Is there anything you are actively grieving right now? Who is present to you in this grief? What might be most helpful for mourning this loss?
  • Is there anything you think you may have never adequately grieved? What might it look like to properly grieve this?
  • Sometimes unforgiveness, resentment, bitterness, and anger block us from feeling the sorrow or grief. Is there anyone you need to forgive in order to actually feel the extent of the loss that needs to be grieved? How might your tiny GROUP be able to support you and pray with you in this process of forgiveness?

 


Week 5: A Heart Check-up

Class Notes

tiny GROUP reflection prompts: 

  • Utilize “A Heart Check-Up” document with a series of reflection exercises as an individual activity
  • Discuss what emerges for you from these reflections with your tiny GROUP partner(s).

 


Week 4: The Healing of the Heart


Class notes

tiny GROUP reflection prompts:

  • What do you think about this definition of grace: “the unmerited favor of God toward humanity”? What does that look like?
  • In what ways have you experienced God’s grace, personally? Share a story or two with your partner(s).
  • If our hearts are healed in part by being incorporated into a community (i.e. the Church), how has the Church been an avenue of grace to you? In what ways have you experienced the church as un-grace-filled? In what ways have you contributed toward others experience of grace or ungraciousness?

 


Week 3: The Sickness of the Heart

Class notes

tiny GROUP reflection prompts:

  • In what ways have seen the sickness in your own heart: disordered desires, distorted desires, unbelief, resistance / rebellion?
  • Consider using the liturgy for confession together with your tiny GROUP partner(s) in sharing about your own heart’s sickness.

 


Week 2: The Heart, Part 2: Accessing & Shaping the Heart


Class notes

tiny GROUP reflection prompts:

  • What factors / forces do you think have most shaped your heart to date in your life (for better or worse)? Consider sharing a key story or two that might give some insight into your heart’s formation to your tiny GROUP partner(s).
  • What (practices, experiences, people, etc.) has been most important in shaping your heart (not your mind) toward Christ and His Kingdom?
  • Jeremiah describes the heart as “deceitful”. Have you experienced your own heart as deceitful? In other words, you think you desire something, when in fact you discover that in practice or in the moment, you find yourself desiring and willing something else. 

 


Week 1: The Heart, Part 1: The Main Thing

Class notes

tiny GROUP reflection prompts:

  • What does it look like to consciously live your spiritual life from your heart?
  • The heart in the biblical understanding refers to the part of us that integrates the rest of us (body, mind, spirit, relationships, emotions, desires, will, etc.). In what ways do you struggle with being integrated?
  • Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” – How have you guarded or not guarded your heart in the past few weeks? What has that looked like? What is the difference between guarding your heart in the sense that the proverb intends and having a defensive shield around your heart or having a hard, invulnerable or closed off heart? 

 


Getting Started

First Steps (how to form a tG)
Sign up for a tiny GROUP, tell us you’re already in one, and/or request more information
Agreeing Together (establishing shared expectations with other tG members)
First Meeting (what should transpire at the first meeting)

Eucharist Church is a congregation in San Francisco connecting ancient forms of worship and classic Christian faith to the lives of 21st-century people.