Living As Disciples Worship Series: WEEK 1
July 14, 2019
Small Groups: From Worship to Discipleship
This resource is meant to be used in connection with the worship resources for the Season after Pentecost - Living As Disciples. The underlying question for this series is: “In light of who God is, how are we to live?” Each session uses the same Scriptures and themes as the previous Sunday’s worship service. The preferred pattern is for participants to experience the worship service first, followed by group study during the week that follows.
The subtitle, “From Worship to Discipleship,” is intentional. By deliberately connecting the themes and Scripture from corporate worship to the small-group experience, participants will be more fully formed into disciples of Jesus Christ. People learn best when they are in conversations with others.
The role of the group leader is not to be the “answer” person or the person with the most biblical knowledge. Instead of providing the “right answer,” a good facilitator helps the group members ask the right questions. Facilitators should familiarize themselves with the format, questions, and possible answers ahead of time.
Other group dynamics to consider:
- Group size should consist of six to eight people. If there are more than eight participants, consider adding more time for the group to meet and/or more groups. Each person added to the group will create more relationship dynamics to be managed; each person might not have enough time to share.
- If the group is larger than eight participants, it is advised to split into even smaller groups within the group as needed so that all participants get a chance to talk. This will also keep one or two voices from dominating the discussion.
- It is highly advisable to use a group covenant to provide expectations of participants’ roles and manner of speech. Specific items to include should be confidentiality and speaking only for oneself. Another idea to foster dialogue is the “three-before-me” rule. That rule states that participants must wait until at least three other participants have spoken before they can speak again. For examples, see Sample Guidelines.
- A proper learning environment can often be judged by whether all participants are willing to risk sharing their perspectives, no matter how popular or unpopular.
- If your group meets in a church building, be sure the chairs are soft and the group is set up in a circle. Use tables for food only. If participants meet in a home, make sure there are plenty of seating areas and be sure to limit distractions, such as pets. If your group is meeting in a coffee shop or restaurant, be sure the space will be comfortable and quiet enough for conversation.
Introduction to the Format
There is a pattern for each week. The times are suggestions and are loosely based on an hour timeframe. The times should be modified, as needed. Each session will consist of the following elements:
Fellowship – Snacks or a Meal (10 minutes with snacks; longer, obviously, if there is a meal)
Gathering Time (5-10 minutes). Each session will begin with an opening question to foster dialogue and help the participants settle in to the theme for the week. These questions are meant to be done in micro groups of two or three people.
Optional Exercises. Weeks 2 through 4 contain an optional exercise that bridges the ending exercises from the week prior. If the group chooses to use these exercises, which will help the ideas from the lessons become more practical, the facilitator will need to adjust the time accordingly, as they are not figured into the timeline.
Group Dialogue (Approximately 30 minutes). This guide does not include a lot of questions. The intent is for group dialogue and not merely giving the correct answer. During the dialogue sections, you will see guidance and possible answers to the given questions with brackets [ ]. These are only possible answers and are not meant to be exhaustive of other answers. It is a helpful practice to allow participants plenty of time to process these questions internally. Don’t be afraid of silence.
Prayer (10 minutes). Allow each participant who would like to do so to lift up a person or situation he or she would like the group to be in prayer over. Following each request, the leader will pray, “Lord, in your mercy…,” and the participants will respond, “Hear our prayers.” If the situation is warranted and if the participant is willing, surround the participant and lay hands on him/her and allow those who are willing to do so to pray for this person and/or situation.
Sending Forth (2 minutes). Ask for a volunteer to send the group out with the printed blessing; or read the prayer in unison.
Week 1: Living as Disciples – How to Be a Neighbor
Fellowship – Snacks (10 minutes)
Gathering Time (5-10 minutes). In pairs or groups of three, discuss the following question, “When was a time you were in need? Who helped you?”
Group Dialogue (Approximately 30 minutes)
Read Luke 10:25:37
- The legal expert quotes Leviticus 19:18 and Deuteronomy 6:5. Read Leviticus 19:17-18. Who is the “neighbor” in this context? [A fellow Israelite.] Now, read Leviticus 19:33-34. According to these verses, who should also qualify as a “neighbor”? [Anyone among them in need.]
- Why do you think the legal expert was not satisfied with Jesus’ initial answer (vv. 25-29)? [It was not a matter of understanding who qualifies as a neighbor for the legal scholar (he knew the answer), but of how he would have to live out and apply the law.]
- In what way might the priest and Levite’s actions been justifiable? [Merely touching the beaten man, who could have been mistaken for a corpse, would have resulted in becoming unclean and being unable to have social interactions or minister to the community. Yet, they are headed home, so these would not have been as justifiable as if they were headed to Jerusalem.]
- What do you already know about the relationship between Jews and Samaritans? [Jews looked down on Samaritans. Jews would not eat with Samaritans.] Why would Jesus’ use of a Samaritan have been surprising, if not shocking, to his audience? [They would have expected the priest or Levite to be the hero of the story, and their actions were to some extent justifiable. To use a Samaritan as the hero of the story would have not just been surprising, but unthinkable to a Jewish audience.]
- Who might be modern-day “Samaritans”? [Undocumented residents, AIDS patients, etc.] Who are the modern-day Samaritans in your community?
- What might Jesus be implying by making the Samaritan the hero of this story? What might that mean for us?
- List all the ways the Samaritan “did mercy.” [He came near, was moved to compassion, went to the beaten man, bandaged his wounds, poured oil and wine on the wounds, put the man on his animal, brought him to an inn, gave money for the innkeeper to continue his care.]
- In groups of two or three, have participants name one person they will seek to extend mercy to this week.
Prayer (10 minutes). Share prayer requests and respond appropriately.
Sending Forth (2 minutes). Ask for a volunteer to lead the group or read the following prayer in unison:
Creator God, who has created all people in God’s image, we give you thanks for the rich diversity of this world. Give us the eyes to see each person we come in contact with; give us ears of compassion and eyes of faith. Help us to see our own areas of need and where you are calling us to be in ministry with those who are vulnerable and in need. Amen.