June 2024


In Need and in Abundance

Open Your Heart

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B

If last week was about the call to open our hearts, this week is about putting your money where your mouth is. Or more accurately, where your heart is.

Small Groups: From Worship to Discipleship

This resource is meant to be used in connection with the worship resources for the Sunday of July 4, 2021. 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, possible answers, and background information 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.

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.

Your Bone and Flesh

2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10 and Mark 6:1-13

Fellowship – Snacks or a Meal (10 minutes with snacks; longer, obviously, if there is a meal)

Gathering Time (5-10 minutes). In groups of two or three, have each participant share where “home” is and what gives it a sense of welcome.

Group Dialogue (Approximately 30 minutes)

Read 2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10 and Mark 6:1-13

  • It appears what marked “home” for the tribes of Israel (in this passage) included a king, a covenant, and fortified cities. How might that have brought security and sense of belonging to the Israelites?
  • Do you think Jesus was surprised when those in his hometown “took offense” (v. 3) at him? Do you think he was disappointed?
  • Why do you think Jesus was unable to do “deeds of power” (v. 5) in his hometown? [It appears their inability to trust who Jesus said he was played a role in it.]
  • How does the sending out of the twelve disciples two-by-two (v. 7) connect with what happens in Jesus’ hometown? [Jesus was rejected by his own. Just as the twelve tribes of Israel help constitute God’s people, so Jesus is signaling a renewed community who operate in his authority.]
  • What are Jesus’ instructions to the disciples he sends out? How would this have created a sense of dependence on God’s provisions?
  • How does Jesus send his disciples today? How do we depend on God for provisions today?
  • How does “home,” biblically speaking, include a sense of call (or purpose) and sending? [Home is not merely a location, but about belonging. More specifically, we belong to the community of believers that are sent in mission and ministry to demonstrate and preach a life of forgiveness, repentance, and love.]

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:

Covenant-keeping God, your faithfulness in spite of our faithlessness brings a sense of awe and unworthiness. Yet, by our baptisms, you call us to be a people sent in ministry and mission to all those you love in and around us. Give us the eyes to see where you are calling us and who you are calling us to demonstrate your radical love. Amen.

Additional Resources


In This Series...

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes


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In This Series...

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes