Fifth Sunday After the Epiphany 2019, Year C — Faith Formation
See All The People Worship Series Week 1: THE PRESSING CROWD
February 10, 2019
Small Groups: From Worship to Discipleship
This resource is meant to be used in connection with the worship resources for the Season After Epiphany. 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.
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 create 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. 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.
Another group dynamic to consider is space. 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 persons.
Group Dialogue (Approximately 30 minutes) – This guide does not include a lot of questions. The intent is for greater time to be spent on certain questions. Opening questions transition the gathering time into the dialogues, as the total group centers on the themes and Scripture for the week. 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. Questions that begin with (R) are meant to be more reflective. This will mean more time should be spent on these questions relative to others and will often result in participants needing more time to process. It is a helpful practice to allow participants plenty of time to process these questions internally. Don’t be afraid of silence.
See All The People Exercise – In advance of the first class, obtain at least one copy per group of Developing an Intentional Discipleship System: A Guide for Congregations and Engaging Your Community: A Guide to Seeing All the People. There are print version for purchase as well as free downloads available at https://www.seeallthepeople.org/resources-downloads/#edd-free-download-modal. Each week will end by engaging either Developing an Intentional Discipleship System by Junius B. Dotson (Week 1) or Engaging Your Community by Junius B. Dotson (Weeks 2-4). Note especially, week four has two options. Option A is for groups that can either display the YouTube link in their setting or can ask participants to watch the video prior to class time. Option B is for groups where internet access is limited.
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 (1 minute) – Ask for a volunteer to send the group out with the printed blessing; or read the prayer in unison.
Week 1 - The Pressing Crowd
Fellowship – Snacks or a Meal. (10 minutes with snacks; longer, obviously, if there is a meal)
Gathering Time (5-10 minutes) – In pairs, discuss: “What are you hoping to gain by being part of this group?”
Group Dialogue (Approximately 30 minutes)
Read Luke 5:1-11
- When did God first become real to you? (Check any that apply)
- Bible Study/Small Group
- As a child
- As a teenager
- As an adult
- A particular worship service
- What do you think convinces Simon Peter (as well as James and John) to leave his fishing business to follow Jesus in “catching people”? [not just that Jesus led them to catch fish after having caught none, but the enormous and even miraculous size of the catch]
- Simon Peter displays an array of emotions in this passage. Have the group name as many emotions they can. [honor of having Jesus in his boat; frustration or shame when Jesus, a carpenter by trade, tells him where and how to fish; reluctant obedience in obeying Jesus’ command to fish; astonishment that it worked; amazement at how well it worked; overwhelmed at the realization that Jesus worked this miracle; fear of leaving his career (and family?); honor of following Jesus]
- What qualities of discipleship does Peter display in this passage? [submission, obedience, repentance, worship, trust, and following] Which of these have you experienced? Which qualities do you feel God is inviting you to focus on? Is there anything this group can do to help?
- (R) When we say “yes” to an activity, idea, or action, we are by consequence saying “no” to other things, and vice versa. For example, if I agree to go on a date with my spouse, we are saying “no” to watching television at that time or being with other people at this time, and so on. When we say “yes” to following Jesus, what are we saying “no” to? (sin, evil, determining our own way, other allegiances.) What are we also saying “yes” to? (loving God and loving neighbor.)
- (R) What does it look like to be a “fisher of people” within a five-mile radius of your church?
See All The People – Discussion
Peter, along with James and John, agreed to follow Jesus in fishing for people. This would involve relating to and engaging with people in the communities to which they traveled. Specifically, it would involve living out the greatest command of loving God and neighbor as self. These first disciples, like us today, are called to See All The People and Engage [Their] Community.
Read and discuss the question in bold from this passage from Developing an Intentional Discipleship System: A Guide for Congregations.
It’s All About Relationships!
Missional Engagement & Relationships
“I use the word engagement in deliberate contrast to our traditional understanding of outreach. Let me offer some distinctions. Outreach has traditionally taken two forms. It can be missional efforts. These are traditional helping ministries such as food and clothing drives, neighborhood clean-ups, and food pantries. There are some outreach efforts that are more evangelistic efforts. These include activities like attending a street festival and handing out invitations to church, or
going to a park to pass out water bottles with the church’s information on it. I believe any outreach effort whose goal is simply inviting people to church or only providing ministry “for people” and not “with people” without regard to building relationships is shortsighted – it misses the point of intentional discipleship. Missional engagement entails the building of authentic, organic, and consistent relationships. Only relationships built on these three characteristics will lead to intentional discipleship….
“When engagement is authentic, organic, and consistent, we create the space necessary for people to share their faith. Engagement is not a program, it is an ethos that is deeply rooted in a congregation’s understanding of intentional discipleship. This ethos can also fundamentally change the way a church approaches the planning of any activity or event. Consider an outreach event that your church does regularly. Examples might include an Easter egg hunt during the Lenten season, an annual clothing giveaway event, or a community yard/garage sale. How would the nature of that event change if it were planned to ensure that our encounter with people at the event was organic, authentic, and consistent? It could involve a team of people whose sole responsibility is to simply talk to people and listen to their stories. We cannot make disciples without first being in relationship with people!” (Intentional Discipleship Systems, 34-36).
Prayer (10 minutes) – Share prayer requests and respond appropriately.
Sending Forth (1 minute) – Ask for a volunteer to lead the group or read the following prayer in unison:
“God who sends us as ambassadors of your kingdom, help us to say ‘yes’ to following Jesus with our whole being. We desire to be a church and individuals who ‘catch’ people. Guide us to see all the people we are called to be in relationship with. Amen.”
Week 1: Fifth Sunday After the Epiphany – February 10: The Pressing Crowd
“Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, 2 he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. 4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.’ 5 Simon answered, ‘Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.’ 6 When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. 8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!’ 9 For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.’ 11 When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.”
Our verse for today is from the Gospel according to Luke, chapter 5 verses 9 through11: “For [Jesus] and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.’ 11 When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.”
Let’s think about what this means.
- So many people wanted to hear Jesus teach that he asked Simon to take him in his boat.
- Jesus finished talking to the crowd about God and how God wants us to live.
- Jesus showed his thanks to Simon for letting him sit in his boat: a huge catch of fish!
- After trying unsuccessfully to catch fish all night, Simon realized that this was a miracle.
- He was afraid he was not good enough to be in the presence of the One who does miracles.
- Jesus reassured him and told him not to be afraid. Jesus knew he could help Simon catch people.
- Because of Jesus, Simon and his fishing business partners, James and John, caught many fish.
- At the height of their worldly success, they left everything behind in order to follow Jesus.
Dear God, you work miracles through Jesus, your Son. With your help, we can do anything that you ask us to do. Help us to trust you enough to do what you say, even if we have doubts or are afraid. Thank you for inspiring us with faith. Fill our hearts with your Spirit, so we will let go of things and follow you. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.