by Collin Mayjack
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 last few weeks’ Practice in triads (5-10 minutes)
If you are in a Community of seven or more, consider dividing into small groups of 3–4 people each (ideally same gender).
Spend a few minutes catching up on life…
Then talk through the following debrief questions:
1. What was your experience with silence and solitude this past week?
2. What was most difficult about silence and solitude? What was most rewarding?
3. How might you want to integrate silence and solitude into your life going forward?
Read this Overview
Another day of work has past. You arrive home, heat up yesterdays’ leftover lasagna, sit down on the couch, and turn on the next episode of your Netflix show of choice – at last, a time to check out, to unwind, to let your guard down. Or maybe its been a stressful day at home, the kids are asleep, and you take a long exhale as you sink into your bed with your phone; before you know it, 5, 15, 30, and now 42 minutes have passed and its time to go to bed.
The average 21st century American watches spends 4 hours watching TV, 4.6 hours listening to music, 200 minutes on their phone, 135 minutes on social media, and 16.8 minutes reading per day. Each and every day we are exposed to countless images and words in the form of media, stories, text, and soundbites, all of which are warring for space in our thoughts, our ideas, and our feelings, or what the New Testament calls our mind.
A first century follower of Jesus named Paul wrote to the church of Rome saying, “Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,” (Romans 12:2). Paul recognized three truths: 1) the world has a way of thinking (ideas, values, practices, and social norms), 2) the world’s way of thinking has a gravitational pull, and 3) if you think like the world, you will begin to live like the world. With that, he commands early followers of Jesus “do not conform,” but “be transformed.”
So how do we stop conforming and begin the work of transformation? It starts in our minds. Like Paul, we need to start by recognizing the world’s pattern of thinking. We need to take an idea audit of sorts, to do an active search of all the values, images, and thoughts that are put before our mind each day. We must identify where our ideas come from, recognize what those ideas are, and analyze whether or not they align with the way of the world or the way of Jesus.
Do this Practice as a Community right now (30 - 40 Minutes)
When your Community is ready, move on to this week’s Practice.
Exercise 1: The Idea Audit
The goal of this time is to identify the sources through which we intake ideas, recognize what those ideas are, and analyze whether or not they align with the way of the world or the way of Jesus. Note: To say that an idea has entered your mind is not to say that you ascribe to that idea. Instead, we want to simply recognize the ideas that are coming before us each and every day.
Step 1: Identify where your ideas come from.
- Take a few minutes to think about where your ideas come from. This can be social media, movies, shows, music, art, friends, books, podcasts, or something else. What is a big source of ideas for one person, might be less of one for another. On a piece of paper, in a journal, or in an iPhone note, write down 3-5 sources of ideas in your life, beginning with the most influential. (Hint: If you’re not sure which sources are most influential, begin with the sources that consume the most time, that evoke the most emotion, or to which your mind travels most when you're distracted.)
- Once everyone has made their list, have everyone go around and share their list.
Step 2: Recognize what your ideas are.
- Have each person select one source of ideas, ideally the one they think is most influential (television, social media, podcasts, etc.)
- Once you have selected your idea source, reflect on that source by asking, “what idea(s) is this source presenting me with?” If you’re having a hard time, start with one particular moment with that source (E.g. the most recent episode, your last conversation, the last chapter you read).
- Spend a few minutes writing down the ideas that you have received from that source, whether or not you’d say you believe them or agree with them.
- Consider these examples:
- Example 1: In the most recent episode of _________, the message behind the story was ______________.
- Example 2: As I’ve scrolled through my Instagram feed lately, I’ve found myself feeling like _______.
- Example 3: I listened to a podcast this week that was all about ______.
- Example 4: My friend keeps telling me that ______.
Once everyone has an idea or two, move on to…
Step 3: Analyze your ideas together.
- Have each person share one of the ideas that has passed through their mind lately and the source that it came from.
- Then, as a group, discuss as a group how that idea aligns with the way of the world and how that idea (might) align with the way of Jesus.
- (Note: If you are running short on time, considering doing this portion in pairs or triads)
- As time allows, repeat Steps 2 and 3.
Read over and talk about this coming week’s Practice before you call it a night (15 minutes)
Here is the Practice for the coming week.
Exercise 2: Take a media break
The Practice for this week is simple: select a form (or multiple forms) of media and take a break from them for a selected amount of time. Here are a few steps to help you in this journey:
Step 1: Decide which form(s) of media you will take a break from.
- Consider which form of media is most influential in your life and decide to take a break from it. If you are wanting to take it a step further, pick multiple forms of media that you will take a break from (e.g. Twitter and television, Instagram and podcasts.)
Step 2: Decide how long your media break will be
- If you’ve never taken a purposeful break from before, start with a modest goal (like one day). If you’re pretty used to taking breaks from media, consider a longer period of time (like one week). Regardless of how long you decide, pick a time and try to stick to it.
Step 3: Share your plan with your Community
- If you have time tonight, go around and have each person share their plan for your media power down. If time doesn't allow, text your Community once you decide what you’ll try!
Work through these discussion questions (5-10 minutes)
1. How did you feel about identifying and analyzing ideas in your life?
2. Any thoughts, creative ideas, or feedback on this coming week’s Practice? What kind of media break do you want to try?
3. What might you do with the extra time this media break affords you?