Rumors of God Participant's Guide

Rumors of God Participant's Guide

by Darren Whitehead, Jon Tyson

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What if the rumors are true?

Rumors of God DVD-Based Study is a call to Christians seeking a vision of the life God is calling them to, one that transcends the shallowness of our culture. This DVD-based small group study will challenge group members to reject what is plausible and to cry out for God to bring what is possible in their lives and in the church.

Authors Darren Whitehead and Jon Tyson share compelling stories about the work and activity of God today. Packed with fresh cultural observations and illuminating Scriptural insights, Rumors of God DVD-Based Study will ignite a passion in your heart to see your faith come to life.

Participant Guide includes:

  • Six sessions of small group interactive study
  • Thought-provoking daily readings for each session
  • Deep study of Scripture to help you discover God’s truth and work around you


“One thing is for certain, these guys love the Church, and the Christ who fashions it together through lives reborn by the unique and ageless grace He exudes.” –Louie Giglio, Pastor, Passion City Church

“With wisdom beyond their years, these next generation leaders shift our collective gazes from the Church’s blemishes to her beauty, from her prominent failures to her promising future. Both challenging and encouraging, Rumors of God will reintroduce you to a God worth talking about.” -Gabe Lyons, Author, The Next Christians, Founder, Q, Co-Author, UnChristian


For use with the Rumors of God DVD-Based Study. 978-1-4016-7530-1


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781401675332
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 06/11/2012
Sold by: HarperCollins Publishing
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 128
File size: 808 KB

About the Author

Originally from Australia, Darren Whitehead founded Church of the City in Nashville, Tennessee, in 2013. Each weekend around 6,000 people worship at one of the five locations across the metro area. Darren holds both his masters and doctorate degrees in ministry, with his dissertation research focusing on Millennial engagement in the Western Church. He lives with his wife, Brandy, and their three daughters, Sydney, Scarlett, and Violet in Nashville, Tennessee.

Jon Tyson is the Lead Pastor of Trinity Grace Church in New York City. Originally from Australia, Jon moved to the U.S, 12 years ago. He works, lives, and serves in one of the largest cultural and future missionary contexts of the world, the urban center. Trinity Grace has 5 churches in New York City. He lives in Manhattan with his wife, Christy, and their two children.

Read an Excerpt



Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2012 Darren Whitehead and Jon Tyson
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4016-7533-2

Chapter One



In his book Breathing Underwater, Richard Rhor observes that, "Christians are usually sincere and well-intentioned people until you get to any real issues of ego, control, power, money, pleasure, and security. Then they tend to be pretty much like everybody else." Darren and Jon make this same observation in this first session of Rumors of God. They ask us to question what we dream about and then explore where those dreams come from.

This is a risky proposition.

Anytime we allow God to challenge the allegiance we have to false dreams it is threatening. There is a chance we will have to give up something we have been depending on. The question is: Do we trust God to give us something better in return?

As you watch the video, consider what kind of dreams you dream. What informs those dreams? Finally, are you in a place today to be honest about where the inspiration of your dreams lies? God only asks because He wants to bring us freedom, but it is risky to accept the question. Will you trust Him today?


Play Session 1: Hostages of the Mind: Rumors of Another Dream


1. Invite everyone to share their name and answer this question: What is one of the best (or worst) dreams you can remember?

2. Darren and Jon suggest that, underneath it all, Christians' dreams are no different from anyone else's. They say our imaginations have been captured. Do you agree? If so, where do you see evidence of this captivity? If not, why do you disagree?

3. What does Jon mean when he says, "The American story has become our story"? Is it wrong to want a "happy ending" to a story?

4. What is the difference between a dream and a fantasy?

5. What are three things you can imagine that God dreams about?

6. What would it look like for God to release our imaginations? Give an example.

7. What is one practical thing we can do to dream another dream? Brainstorm as a group or reflect as an individual.


Rumors of God demonstrates the way marketing has become the dominant force in shaping Christians' imaginations. This week you are invited to take a stand and say no.

At least one day this week try a media fast. Try to spend a day without the influence of TV or computer screens, magazines, or anything that will bring unnecessary advertising into your orbit. Fast from social media sites, print media (like catalogs), and entertainment or news magazines.

The point here is to be intentional, not legalistic. If your work requires a computer screen, make part of your fast abstinence from Facebook. If you have to use your smart phone everyday, pick one evening this week to turn it off overnight. If technology is not your struggle, try wearing clothes that are free of brand logos. We cannot avoid all images, but we can turn down the volume of their messages through our choices and that is the point of this exercise.

Write down your plan here and share it with your study group or a friend before you begin. Ask them if they think your fast is attainable. Then go for it. Keep a notebook with you and write down what you experience to share with the group during the next session. Pay attention to which voices get louder during the fast and which get quieter.


During Session 1 we talked about the way Christians' imaginations are taken over by dreams other than God's. The following devotionals explore this concept further. What makes us dream other dreams? Is this only a recent phenomenon? What resources has God provided for His people to deal with this temptation in the past? What can we learn from our forbearers in faith about liberating our imaginations to hope for God's kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven?

DAY 1 EXODUS 20:17

You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

Read the scripture for today and consider:

* How do you define the word "covet"?

* Where do you see coveting in our culture today?

The scripture for today is from the Ten Commandments. "Do not covet" is the final command of the ten, yet it is not always easy to pin down what it means. What did God have in mind here? The answer to that question is actually a picture painted by the remainder of the law.

As God laid out the law to the Jewish people, it became clear that He was planning to make them a nation. This meant giving them land, and every Israelite family was promised a particular parcel. This land was a gift from God and everyone was afforded enough land for his or her family to use for their needs. Boundaries around the parcels were to be indicated by short rock walls or boundary stones, which were not to be moved (according to Deut. 19:14). The idea was that God had given everyone enough. All that a family needed could be produced on its parcel. All that was required of each family was to take care of what God had given to them.

The command not to covet in Exodus 20 includes references to spouses, servants, livestock, and property. These are the things that could be seen if you looked over your neighbor's wall to see what was going on in their plot. This is coveting. It's when we peer over the wall and lust for the relationships, property, job, or family of someone else. It's when we want that person's life instead of ours. Such craving can never be slaked and will only produce destruction. It is a foreign dream holding our imaginations captive.

* What does coveting what somebody else has say about what God has already given you?

* Why is it profitable for a company to create advertising that forces us to covet their products? Have you seen any examples of this recently?

* What items are you most likely to covet and why?

DAY 2 JAMES 4:2–4

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

Read the scripture for today and consider:

* What part of the text do you think relates to the church of today the most?

* What part of this letter relates to your life the most? The least?

The letter of James was written to the people of a struggling church. The author challenged their slander, bickering, and deceit, not because they were "breaking the rules" but because they had a job to do. They were the community to whom God chose to demonstrate what He is like to the world. They were the body of Christ, and how they lived mattered.

Look at James 4:2–4 again. It contends that the outgrowth of coveting is violence, and James told his readers that when they asked God for things, they didn't receive them because their motives were improper. And what were their motives? James is quick to tell us: their own pleasures. This sounds very familiar, indeed. Our culture grooms us to be motivated by our own selfish desires. You might say that's just "the way of the world." However, decreeing it as wrong is not good enough. We must also ask how we seek God with right motives.

Jesus said that the law and the prophets could be summed up in two commandments: love God with everything you've got (first) and love your neighbor as yourself (second). Coveting is lusting for what someone else has and that lust motivates us to take what has not been given. Is praying for blessing and provision for others in our community, instead of focusing on ourselves, the antidote for coveting? Is a first step putting the needs of others before our own? Consider how you pray and what you ask for. Is it leading to greater love of God and neighbor, or is that love going somewhere else?

* What is the difference between asking God for what you need and asking God for things that will indulge your pleasures?

* Verse 3 says that motives matter sometimes. Are there times that motives don't matter when we pray?

* What do you think it means to be a "friend of the world and enemy of God"?


A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet. On shigionoth. Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.

Read the scripture for today and consider:

* What do you think the prophet is referring to when he talks about the Lord's "fame" and "deeds"?

* What would it look like for God to repeat these deeds in our day? Who would be involved in making this happen?

It has been said that the exodus is the paradigmatic event of the Hebrew Scriptures and the rest of the law and prophets are simply commentary upon it. Repeatedly, God identifies Himself as "the one who brought you out of bondage in Egypt." This makes God's radical, powerful, and definitive rescue of His people from slavery one of the primary ways God wants to be understood. God asks, "Who am I?" and answers, "I am a Rescuer!"

When Habakkuk prophesied, Israel found herself under oppression again. This was a result of her own sin and her exile was understood as God's punishment. Foreign nations ruled her again, yet the cry of the prophet (Hab. 3:1-2) was for God to be who God has always claimed to be—a liberator of the people. It was an appeal for God to act like He did in the Exodus. It was a cry for freedom.

But what if the people don't want to be rescued? What happens if we succeed in achieving the dreams of status, wealth, and power that this world provides? This might actually make God's offer of freedom sound like bad news instead of good news. Jesus found Himself in this situation often. His proclamation of freedom didn't look like what His contemporaries thought it should. Jesus knew the truth and demonstrated that true freedom only comes through sacrifice. This is one of the things He demonstrated on the cross. God's freedom doesn't come in a quick, effortless fix.

* What do you spend your time dreaming about?

* Do your dreams look like God's dreams? How can you tell?

* Is there any part of Jesus' good news proclamation that sounds like bad news to you? Why do you think that is?


For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Read the scripture for today and consider:

* Verse 16 is a prayer for God to strengthen your inner being by the power of the Holy Spirit. Where do you need that today? Take a deep breath and pray.

Verse 20 always reminds me of the movie Star Wars. Luke Skywalker tells Han Solo that if he helps rescue the princess he'll receive a reward. When Han asks how much that reward will be, Luke is caught off guard. Unsurely he answers, "Well, more wealth than you can imagine." Han replies, "I don't know. I can imagine quite a bit."

In Ephesians 3:20 the author reminded the community that God can do more than we can imagine. So much more, in fact, that it is beyond measure. This is an impressive and true claim, but it becomes problematic if our dreams are all about us. In a consumer society we are taught over and over again that our needs are all that matter. We get used to dreaming about great things for ourselves and, when those things do not materialize, we are disappointed and can even become cynical and bitter. We even extend that disappointment to God because "Ephesians 3:20 says God will do even more than we can ask or imagine. So why didn't my dreams come true?"

The answer is in verse 21. The immeasurable activity of God works towards God's glory, not simply ours. To be sure, God is glorified when our lives manifest healing, joy, beauty, and hope. God wants us to be whole. However, God wants much more than this as well. God's mission in Jesus encompasses the whole cosmos. Even the best things we can say about God's goodness and love will fall short of how good and loving God really is. He is truly better than we can ever imagine! This is what Ephesians invites us to do. Give up our culture's dreams of money, sex, and power and embrace Jesus' revolution of faith, hope, and love.

* When you hear the phrase "God's dreams," what does it make you think of?

* Take a moment and imagine. What are the most outrageous, hopeful, beautiful, and redemptive things you can imagine God doing in your lifetime? Write these down.

* Take a moment and pray for each of the things you listed in the question above. Ask God what part you can play in making each of these dreams come true. Finally, be quiet and listen.

DAY 5 PSALM 104:27–33

    All creatures look to you
      to give them their food at the proper time.
    When you give it to them,
      they gather it up;
    when you open your hand,
      they are satisfied with good things.
    When you hide your face,
      they are terrified;
    when you take away their breath,
      they die and return to the dust.
    When you send your Spirit,
      they are created,
      and you renew the face of the ground.
    May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
      may the Lord rejoice in his works—
    he who looks at the earth, and it trembles,
      who touches the mountains, and they smoke.
    I will sing to the Lord all my life;
    I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.

Read the scripture for today and consider:

* When was the last time you were satisfied? What brought about that satisfaction?

* Verses 27–28 say God satisfies all creatures with good things. Have you ever been satisfied by something that wasn't good for you? Why did you answer the way you did?

Even though the majority of world's resources flow into the United States, we still fear there is not enough. We live by a myth of scarcity. This myth says there may not be adequate provision for all, so you must take what you can while you can. It assumes that you will not be given what you need—so you must seize it instead. This is the only way to ensure that you have what you want.

The problem with this myth is that it is in direct contradiction with today's psalm. Psalm 104 is a commentary on Genesis 1, and Genesis 1 is all about abundance. In fact, things were so abundant and teeming with plenty in Genesis 1 that on the seventh day, God chose to take a break. You can almost imagine God saying, "I just need some downtime here!" Creation is full of everything we need and the psalm today celebrates that. We are reminded that God not only gives food to all in the proper time but also gives the very breath that sustains the earth. Everything the creation needs flows as a gift from the Creator, which means nothing can be taken, only received.

The psalm challenges us to consider which story we believe: God's creation of plenty or our culture's myth of scarcity. The choice is not easy, because the mouthpiece of the myth of scarcity is everywhere. We see numerous advertising images a day telling us that we don't have enough and that we need more of what we do have. Still, God's invitation is to listen to the truth rather than the lies. God has enough for you. Will you believe it?


Excerpted from RUMORS OF GOD by DARREN WHITEHEAD JON TYSON Copyright © 2012 by Darren Whitehead and Jon Tyson. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Introduction: Rumors of God....................5
Session 1: Hostages of the Mind: Rumors of Another Dream....................9
Session 2: The Great Reversal: Rumors of Generosity....................29
Session 3: Getting the Gospel in Order: Rumors of Grace....................49
Session 4: Giving Up Your Rights: Rumors of Forgiveness....................69
Session 5: The Radical Individual: Rumors of Commitment....................89
Session 6: Our Burning Revolution: Rumors of Hope....................107

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