Spend the week studying Matthew 5:13-16. Consult the commentary provided and any additional study tools to enhance your preparation.
DETERMINE | which discussion points and study questions will work best for your group.
PRAY | for our pastors and this week’s message, the upcoming group time, your group members and their openness to God’s Word.
LANDING POINT | Jesus’ followers make a difference in their world when they live for God’s purposes.
Remember the 4 Rules for Small Group Discussion
- Confidentiality. What’s said in the group stays in the group.
- No cross-talk. Be considerate of others as they share. Refrain from side conversations and texting during group time.
- No fixing. We are not in the group to fix each other. Jesus does that part.
- Sharing. Be sensitive to the amount of time you share. Don’t talk too much or too little. Every person brings something valuable to the group.
As your group time begins, use this section to introduce the topic of discussion.
Last week your group discussed Pinelake’s fourth value, family-focused. We are made for relationships, which is why God designed His Church to be a family living on mission together. The Church is a community that helps individuals and families understand the Gospel and how it affects daily living and relationships.
This week you will discuss Pinelake’s fifth value, multiplication. Currently God is reproducing leaders and churches to carry out His mission in the world. The exciting thing is we get to play a part in fulfilling God’s mission. Your group will explore how you can live with purpose and be salt and light to those around you.
How do you understand God’s mission in the world? What is it? What role do you play in it?
God could have carried out His mission on His own. Why do you think He chooses to use us?
Select 2-3 questions to discuss as a group.
Jesus makes you different
Jesus began His ministry by announcing that, “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” The kingdom of God can be understood as life as God intended it. Jesus focused His teaching on how to put God at the center of your life. And when you put God in the center, it changes you. You live differently.
How is your life different with God at the center of it? Think of specific examples and share. As we think about these differences, let’s look at the differences in terms of heart, mind and story.
Different Father (heart)
If you’re a believer, you’re a child of God. That means God sees you differently. And the Bible tells you that you are loved, accepted and cherished by the Father to a degree you cannot fully comprehend. The Apostle John overflows with excitement when he writes, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”
Jesus came to reveal the Father’s heart to us. Throughout the Gospels Jesus models what a relationship with the Father looks like. He modeled how to talk to God (prayer), how to live for Him (obedience) and how to make God great for others to see (glorifying the Father).
Split the group into pairs. Consider how Jesus modeled His relationship with the Father and have each person answer the following question: In which of these areas would I like to experience more of God and why?
Different decisions (mind)
Your thinking is changed by your relationship with God. In Christ your attitude and overall outlook on life have changed dramatically. No longer are your thoughts directed towards what the Bible calls “the flesh” (or sinful desires). Now, the Spirit, who guides you to live for God, directs your thoughts. The Spirit does this by turning your attention to Jesus and His Gospel and transforming your mind.
What’s one thing you could do this week to focus your mind more on Jesus and His Gospel?
Different destiny (story)
Jesus changes your story. Apart from God, your story would end in tragedy as a sinner who wasted his or her life and never enjoyed God’s best. But Jesus takes your story and makes it a triumph. He defeated sin and death at the Cross, so you could experience God’s best and be part of His mission in helping others do the same.
As children of God we have an inheritance in God’s kingdom. We also have the promise that this earth is not our home. Our destiny is to live with God in His kingdom, where sin, death and suffering are no more. This gives us hope to endure as we live in a world still affected by sin, death and suffering.
How does knowing your ultimate destiny change the way you live today? How does it allow you to experience more of God’s best?
Select 2-3 question from this section to answer.
Motivated by purpose
Having a purpose allows us to direct our thoughts and actions more effectively towards that purpose. In other words, your attention is more focused when you have a specific purpose in mind. In Christ God has given you a new purpose: to live for Him and show others what that looks like. Jesus points to this purpose in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), a sermon about how to be different by living for God’s kingdom.
Think of someone you know who lives with purpose. What about their life would you like to imitate?
Salt and light
In Matthew 5:13-16 Jesus describes His followers as “salt of the earth” and “light of the world.” These word pictures illustrate what it means to be a witness for God in the world. Jesus teaches that, if you’re living for God in your daily life, you will be salt and light to those around you. Salt and light affect the things around them; salt seasons and preserves; light illuminates and reveals.
Believers should impact on the world around them. Jesus doesn’t call His disciples to escape the world or hide in holy huddles. Rather, He calls them to engage the world and make a difference in it. What that looks like for individuals and communities will vary. You can make a difference for Jesus in the office, on a mission trip or in the P.T.A. at your child’s school. Wherever you are, God calls you to live differently there.
Our words and actions should point others to the life-changing story of the Gospel. And we can love the world by showing the world what living for God looks like. Doing this will attract others to our community and help them experience God’s best for their lives.
Where might God be calling you to engage the world and make a difference for Him?
In what ways do you see your group pointing others to the Gospel? What changes could make your group more effective in doing this?
Dangers along the way
Jesus mentions two dangers in being salt and light to the world. The first danger is blending in. If we lose our saltiness, we’re no different than the world; we’ll just blend in with the culture around us. This will cause us to lose lose our impact and influence. The second danger is hiding your light. Our faith is personal, but it was never meant to be private. If you have Jesus as your Light, you can’t help but show it to others. That’s why Jesus instructs His followers to, “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Name ways that you and your group can avoid blending in and hiding your light.
Select 1 question from this section to answer.
God calls His people to live missionally. What does it mean to be missional? Alan Hirsch writes that missional living begins with a right understanding of the missionary nature of God. He was the first missionary, who took the initiative to redeem the world. Jesus was sent by the Father to carry out His mission. God sends us out on mission, too. In that sense, every believer is a missionary. All have been sent out into their own mission field “to be an agent of the kingdom of God, and every disciple is to carry the mission of God into every sphere of life.” 
Thinking missionally changes the way you view life and ministry. The mission of the Church isn’t just for pastors and church staff. It’s for all believers. Everyone has a part to play in God’s mission. As the Church we carry out that mission together by living differently.
What stands out to you in the explanation of the term missional living? Why?
Consider your neighborhood and its community. How might a missional lifestyle make a difference in it?
Give praise to God for being a missionary God, who loves the world and works to redeem it for Himself and His glory. Thank Him for allowing you to play a part in His mission. Ask for clarity and understanding in carrying out His mission in your life and in your community.
Midway through this week, send a follow-up email to your group with some or all of the following:
Ask the group to share any reflections or lessons God has been teaching them since last week’s session.
Read Luke 10:1-23 and reflect on how this story reflects a missional lifestyle.
Jesus’ use of salt as imagery can be understood in a number of ways. First, in the ancient world salt was used to preserve things such as meat in order to prevent decay. In a similar way, Jesus’ disciples are to influence others away from the perishing effects of sin in the world. Second, as salt, we are also to reflect God’s purity. Good salt doesn’t contain impurities; bad salt contains impurities that make it worthless. When God’s people reflect His purity, they expose others to the empty and destructive consequences of sin. Third, salt gives flavor. As salt, we should bring flavor to life into a tasteless, unsatisfying world. Finally, salt makes us thirsty. As salt, our lives make others thirsty for God. Enjoying Christ as our Living Water (John 7:37-38) makes others thirsty for Him.
Light is used in the Bible to symbolize “purity as opposed to filth, truth or knowledge as opposed to error or ignorance, and divine revelation and presence as opposed to reprobation and abandonment by God.”  To be light is to bring Jesus, the Light of the World (John 8:12; 9:5), into a dark world that does not yet know Him. When Christian communities live for God’s purposes, they become a “city on a hill” that reflects the reality that God’s kingdom has arrived in Jesus. Jesus says this kind of lifestyle glorifies God.
The missional Early Church
The Bible describes an apostle as “one who is sent out.”  Jesus gave His disciples a message (the Gospel) and sent them out into the world it share it. God used these early missionaries to change the world for Christ. They went out into a non-Christian culture and engaged people where they were. Their bold faith led them into dark places to bring the light of Jesus. They were willing to suffer and lose their life in carrying out God’s mission. Their courage and faithfulness should be an encouragement for us, who live in an increasingly non-Christian culture.
1. Alan Hirsch, “Defining Missional: Alan Hirsch, “defining Missional: the Word Is Everywhere, but Where Did It Come from and What Does It Really Mean?,” Christianity Today/leadership Journal, Fall 2008,” Christianity Today - Leadership Journal, Fall 2008, accessed August 6, 2016, http://www.christianityto- day.com/pastors/2008/fall/17.20.html.
2. D. A. Carson, “Matthew,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition), ed. Tremper Longman III and David E. Garland, vol. 9 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010), 170.
3. Philip L. Shuler, “Apostle,” ed. Mark Allan Powell, The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary (Revised and Updated) (New York: HarperCollins, 2011), 40.