Dr. E. Dale Locke
Sermon Series: Circles – Relationships Matter

Week 1: Do the Math


  1. What do you enjoy most about the Olympics?


  1. In your opinion, why do relationships matter so much for us as human beings?


  1. Read Ecclesiastes 4:9-12:
    Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: 10  If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. 11  Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? 12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.


What thoughts or questions come to your mind as you read this passage?


  1. When it comes to how we orient our lives, circles are better than rows. We sit in rows at church and in many other places.  What is different about sitting in a smaller circle that doesn’t happen when you sit in rows in a larger group?


  1. Pastor Dale said: “One day our life will be measured not by the lines we’ve drawn to keep others out, but by the circles we’ve formed to invite others in.” What did Pastor Dale mean by this?


  1. GroupLink is a fun event that is designed to help you connect to a group that fits for you. It takes place on August 28. 5:30-7:30 p.m.  Register at communityofhope.church/grouplink.


At COH, our small groups are where circles of care develop.  As our church grows in number, our small group system is our plan for how we can remain small enough to still care for each other.  What are some ways that a church should care for its people?


  1. Community of Hope Core Value #4 is: “Big Faith is grown in small groups!”  Why does faith seem to grow more if you’re in a small group than if you just do your faith alone?


  1. Pastor Dale listed four things that grow when we are in a small group. Consider each one of these, and discuss how a small group can help you grow in that area:
  • Faith
  • Hope
  • Belief/Behavior
  • Our view of eternity


  1. Have you ever had a difficult season of life when you felt like your hope was diminishing, but through time with Christian friends your hope increased again? Describe that experience.
  2. Read Proverbs 18:24: “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”  Note that Solomon mentions “unreliable friends.”  What does he mean by that?


  1. Pastor Dale shared some ideas from Henry Cloud’s book: The Power of the Other regarding the power that relationships have in our lives. Humans naturally seek connection, and as we do, there are four possible connection situations:


  • Disconnected/No Connection – Some people have no genuine deep friendships.


  1. Name a few genuine  friends that you could call if you were in a difficult time.


  • Bad Connection – Sometimes we connect with bad people who  actually hurt us and pull us down the wrong paths.


  1. Have you ever had a “friendship” with someone who seemed to always make you feel bad about yourself? Describe what that was like.


  • The Pseudo (Fake) Connection – Because we lack genuine relationships, we might turn to shallow or fake friendships that don’t really satisfy our need for connection with others.
  1. What are some ways people substitute “fake” connections for real ones  in our current culture?


  • True Connection – True genuine good friendships with people who make us better.


  1. Another area where we can see that we are better together is in family ministry.  From the time a child is born, a parent has 936 weeks until they launch that child as an adult. A parent will spend about 3,000 hours each year with their child. The church only has about 40 hours a year with that child.  Yet some parents leave all the spiritual training of their children to the church.  What are some ways a parent can partner with their church to help their child’s faith grow, rather than just relying on the church to do it alone?

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