by Josh Porter
Begin with prayer (5 minutes)
Gather together as a Community in a comfortable setting (around a table, on the couch, the floor of a living room, etc.). Have somebody lead a prayer asking the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your time together.
Debrief the teaching in triads (10 minutes)
If you are in a Community of seven or more, divide into small groups of 3–4 people each (ideally same gender) and talk through the following debrief questions about the teaching:
- Did you listen to the teaching? What did you think?
- What was most challenging?
- What was most encouraging?
Transition back to one large group (5 minutes)
Ask a few questions about the last week’s Practice:
- As a disciple of Jesus, how was your week? (Offer an update on your emotional and spiritual state.)
- Did you do the Practice? If so, how did it go? If not, why? How can the Community support you in committing to the Practice this time around?
Read this Overview
The things we do also do something to us.
You are, in one sense, the cumulative effect of your habits. Your habits are the outworking of that which you love, for better or for worse. If you are a human being, you love something. The question is, what do you love? The answer is revealed in the things that you do.
You are what you love, but unfortunately many of us have yet to realize exactly what we love. The habit audit is a practiced designed to inventory our habitual routines and rituals that together make up the sum total of our lives.
Open to the Bible together (10 minutes)
Have one person read John 1v35-38, then have another person read John 21v15-17.
Have someone read the following setup and questions aloud, then make space for the group to entertain a short discussion:
The first question asked by Jesus in the Gospel of John is, “What do you want?” One of the final questions Jesus asks is, “Do you love me?” The things that we love evidence the things that we want. If you are a disciple of Jesus, you are filled with the Holy Spirit. This means that your deepest, truest desire is for Jesus and the things of God. Of course, there are times when we live in ways inconsistent with that desire.
How often do you feel that you think, feel, and behave in ways that are consistent with your deepest, truest desire? In other words, how often do you actually look, sound, and feel like a person who wants Jesus above all things? (Remember, this is a safe place, no one is perfect, and we’re all on the same journey of spiritual formation.)
Read over this coming week’s Practice: (10 minutes)
This week you will perform what is called a habit audit of your life rhythms and habits in order to better understand what you love and, thus, what is forming you.
For one week, keep a short and simple diary of your habits and patterns of life each day. You can keep a small notebook on your person for the week, or use digital journal. Make note of the amount of time spent on each activity. Take particular note of the things to which you commit time, energy, and money.
Excerpts from such a diary may read something like
- 15 minutes making coffee
- 30 minutes on social media
- 1 hour working out
- 2 hours of TV shows
- 2 hours and $30 at a restaurant with friends
- 1 hour and $25 shopping online
With the week and your diary complete, sit down to ask yourself a few questions.
- What rituals and habits are shaping me?
- What has been shaping me without my knowing?
- Are the things to which I dedicate my time leading me to Jesus?
Note: One useful tool to utilize in concert with the habit audit is the examen.
Do this Practice as a Community right now: (10-30 minutes)
Before ending, preface your audit by sharing a moment of personal evaluation together. Everyone retrieve their iPhones. (If you don’t use an iPhone or a smart phone at all, good for you! You’re off the hook for now, but you are still welcome to participate in the discussion.)
Open your ‘settings’ app. If you don’t know how to get to it, simply swipe left-to-right from your home screen and type ‘settings’ into the search bar.
Scroll down to a green icon labeled ‘battery.’
After the next screen loads, look at the ‘usage’ section at the bottom, and your phone will reveal how much time you’ve spent on each app this week. In fact, if you tap the small clock shaped icon you can see it in minutes.
Remember, this is not a time to tear one another down, but to share vulnerability. Take a few minutes to answer the following discussion questions:
- Does it surprise you to see how much time you’ve given to your phone?
- How does the time you’ve dedicated to your most used apps differ from the time you’ve dedicated to prayer, reading the scriptures, and the spiritual disciplines?
- How can you work for more balance in the week ahead?
Close in prayer (10 minutes)
- As you go, commit to kindness, gentleness, grace, and confidentiality for one another. Community should be a safe place to fail, grow, and practice together.
- Spend a few minutes praying over one another and the week ahead.