Small Group Discussion

The Pioneer Spirit

By Mark Conner (2 & 3 August 2003)

Message Summary

Joshua 12 lists all of Israel's great victories and accomplishments under the leadership of Joshua. However, they didn't possess all of the land that God had them. In his latter years, God had to remind Joshua that there was more to be done. God comes to Joshua to stir within him once again the "pioneer spirit".

Josh 13:1. When Joshua was old and well advanced in years, the LORD said to him, "You are very old, and there are still very large areas of land to be taken over.

God wants us to know our purpose and he wants us to live it out with passion. But we need to understand that our purpose is beyond where we are at right now. We're not there yet. None of us have 'arrived'. There's 'more'! It will take a 'pioneer spirit' to get to where we need to be.

There are two types of people and two states of being:

  1. Pioneers are radical people who enjoy taking risks. They live on the edge and are always pushing the boundaries seeking to go where no one has been before. They thrive on adventure, excitement and taking new territory. These are the people who ask, "Why not?" They love expanding what exists and creating new things. They focus on the future and place their energy on seizing new things. They are always thirsty and hungry for more.
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  3. Settlers are more conservative. They are 'safe' people who live in the middle. They don't like pushing the boundaries and prefer things to stay pretty much the same as they have always been. They thrive on security, stability and predictability. These are the people who ask, "Why?" They focus only on the present and place their energy on preserving the past. They tend to be satisfied with the ways things are.

These are broad generalisations. We all have a natural tendency toward one of the other, yet most people have the ability to move between both. Both are needed but the pioneering spirit must predominate in the church of Jesus Christ. God intends for the church to have an advancing mentality. When a conservative "hold the fort" mentality predominates in the church this leads to complacency and living much below our God-given potential and destiny.

It's very easy for us to 'settle' in to a comfortable life of low or no risk where our faith is never challenged and we avoid all forms of fear and potential failure. However, the Christian life is to be one of continual progress. God wants us to advance and move forward. When we begin to lose the pioneer spirit, God moves in to stir us up (see Judges 6:12. Is.54:1-3. Hag.1-2. Rev.3:14-22). Here we see God doing the same with Joshua and the nation of Israel (Josh.13:1).

What it Means for the Church

Right now we are in a season of expansion, increase and enlargement as a church family. God is saying to us - "Well done with what you've been able to accomplish as a church but there is more - much more!" There are more people to be reached with the gospel, more needs in the community to be met, more areas of our city where vibrant churches are needed, and more nations of the world to be impacted.

We can't do everything! We can't take the whole world on. But we can do a lot more than what we are doing now. That's one of the advantages of a large church - when we pool our resources, we can have a large impact. It also means greater responsibility and accountability before God - to whom much is given much will be required.

God is saying to us - "There's more!" "Enlarge your tent - make more room!" "Lift your vision." "Stir up the pioneering spirit!"

What it Means for You

As individuals, this message applies to us too. Of course, we are all in different places in regards to this overall message. Some may have been pioneering and stretching so much that they're in need of some more balanced living - and settling back just a little. God may be calling you to do a little less and consolidate rather than keep pushing the boundaries out. To others, God may be very specifically making your nest uncomfortable to get you moving out from where you are.

Your next step may be breaking a personal destructive habit, moving on from a past hurt or failure, laying hold afresh of a dream that has died through delay or discouragement, beginning to serve in a ministry, reaching out to someone with the good news about Jesus, investing your finances in God's work, going on a short-term mission trip or being part of a church planting team.

Be like Caleb who had a pioneer spirit of faith, fervency, courage and perseverance (see Num. 13:25-33; 14:6-10, 24. Josh 14:6-13; 15:13-14). Don't live a life of stagnation and unrealised potential. Step out in faith and courage. Overcome fear and doubt. The Lord is with you!

Sample Discussion Questions

  1. Do you tend to be more of a 'pioneer' or a 'settler'? Why do you think this is? What are the strengths of the way God has made you? What are the potential weaknesses?
  2. Create a safe context for people to share about what they're naturally like. This can lead to a greater understanding and appreciation of each other.

     

  3. Describe a time when you stepped out in faith and did something that took courage and faith. What was the result?
  4. Life's experiences - both successes and failures - can provide important lessons for today.

     

  5. CityLife is in a season of expansion right now (Vision 2010, fourth celebration service, Building our Future, church planting, etc). How do you feel about all of this?
  6. This is a chance to take the 'pulse' of your group as to how they feel about the church's vision and current 'pace'.

    [Allow people the freedom to be honest. If concerns are raised, you may want to gently address them in the meeting, if appropriate, or talk to individuals afterwards. You may want to pass on any concerns to your Network Pastor also. We always value feedback.]

     

  7. If you knew you would not fail, what would you do differently with your life?
  8. Start to personalise the discussion again here. Seek to draw out people's dreams as well as discover their fears. It may be appropriate to encourage them to take some bold steps.

     

  9. Is there a step God is calling you to take right now that you've been hesitating to take?
  10. Finish up with some personal prayer for people to embrace a pioneering spirit in their personal life right now.



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