WAYMAKER Leader’s Study Guide for the week of October 11, 2020 PDF VERSION
NEED HELP WORKING OUT HOW YOUR GROUP IS MEETING?
No matter how your group is meeting, whether it’s online, in-person or hybrid, we realize people’s preferences or comfort levels in how your group is meeting could change. Due to COVID, people may feel less comfortable meeting in person, or the opposite could happen, and they no longer want to meet only online. We want to give grace to anyone experiencing this and understand that life and how we respond is just not normal right now. Remember to be flexible with people if this occurs in your group. We realize people may want to change or drop out of groups more than usual because of this. If this happens, please let the Group staff know about it. Know they are there to help and can be reached by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. We want to make sure everyone is being cared for during this crazy time.
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GETTING TO KNOW YOU
- Using the options below, how would you say your prayer life is similar to or different from the way you communicate with those you’re closest to?
This week, there are two questions. Feel free to choose the question that works best for your group. Remember, a successful group meeting is one where we hear from everyone and keep God’s Word at the center. The “Getting to Know You” questions are designed to help start conversation off in a positive direction and to help all group members feel comfortable to share. This builds momentum toward the “Digging Deeper” questions.
You may want to chart your group and see who interacts with God the same way they do with other people, and who interacts differently. For example, “why are you more open with friends than with God, or with others?” “Do you have a trust issue with God or with your friends?”
2. Prayer is important just like communication is in any relationship. In what circumstances is it easiest for you to pray? When is it the hardest? What are some of your challenges and frustrations when it comes to regularly praying to our God?
Additional Questions: Are you more honest with people than God? Why or why not? Why do you think some people are able to be more open than others?
Looking back over your sermon notes from this week’s sermon, which particular point or passage of Scripture most challenged, confused, or caught your attention?
1. Have you ever set aside extra time to dedicate yourself to prayer concerning a specific issue or concern? If so, explain.
This week, there are two questions. Feel free to choose the question that works best for your group. Whether your group is meeting in person or online, it is helpful to share with your group the goal of a successful meeting: to hear from everyone and keep God’s Word at the center. Ask the group to help you as the facilitator to create this environment. This will help you interact with dominators (person who dominates the conversation) later on. Mention this early and often in your group. If you are meeting in person, going around the circle is a helpful tool. If you are online, use the ‘popcorn’ or ‘pass the baton’ method to help conversation move and ensure everyone has a chance to share. As always, let everyone know it is ok to pass or not answer a question. This helps build trust with group members who may not feel 100% comfortable sharing vulnerably yet.
In light of the challenges we face and our belief that prayer works, what are some obstacles to setting aside extra periods of time to repeatedly pray over an issue?
Brainstorm with your group and see how many examples you can come up with.
Note: The goal here is to point back to how the Word of God helps shape our view of Him. This is more about practical Bible study methods and helpful tips to strengthen their prayer time. Depending on your group members’ maturity level, this question (or the additional question below) can help members get ideas to try to help them engage in their Bible more often. If you are wanting your group members to read their Bible more, this could be a great question.
- As a group, take 60 seconds and brainstorm some practical ways for the Word of God to help us remember who God is. (Make a group list – i.e. journaling, daily reading, praying scripture, have a verse on our desktop/mirror/bed side table/in our car, reading a verse of the day, memorizing scripture, etc.) Follow up by asking, “How can this enhance your prayer life?”
2. Wherever Jesus went, crowds flocked to Him. His response to these crowds earned Him the reputation of not only being a miracle worker but also a friend of sinners and outcasts. What do you notice about Jesus’ response to people in Matthew 9:9-13 and Luke 7:36-39?
As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.  While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” came and ate with him and his disciples.  When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?”  On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” [NIV]
Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table.  When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume,  and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.  When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is–that she is a sinner.” [NIV]
In our culture, do you think Jesus is still thought of as a friend of sinners? Why or why not?
Jesus did not condone sin or participate in the destructive behaviors of the ungodly. Being a “friend of sinners,” Jesus showed that “God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance” (Romans 2:4). Jesus led a perfect, sinless life and had the “authority on earth to forgive sins” (Luke 5:24). Because of that, we have the opportunity to experience a transformed heart and life. Jesus, our friend, spent time with sinners, not to join their sinful ways but to present them the good news that forgiveness was available. Many sinners were transformed by His words of life—Zacchaeus being a prime example (Luke 19:1–10). When Jesus’ enemies called Him a “friend of sinners,” they meant it as an insult. To His glory and our eternal benefit, Jesus endured such slights and became “a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24).
What are one or two practical ways we, as Christians, could show His love in such a way that people are attracted to Jesus, the One who truly loves them?
Another phrase for this is “Servant Evangelism”. The focus of servant evangelism is doing acts of kindness for anyone and everyone. “As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people” (Galatians 6:10). An example of servant evangelism could be something as simple as handing out free water bottles on a hot day or taking bags of food to needy families at Christmastime. The possibilities are endless, but the common denominator is that nothing is asked for in return. One of the motivations behind this type evangelism is that the Bible tells us that God’s kindness leads people to repentance (Romans 2:4).
There are many benefits of servant evangelism, both for those being served and for those serving. Servant evangelism reaches people where they are and exposes non-Christians to Christians showing God’s love in unmistakable and non-threatening ways. Not everyone is comfortable walking into a church building, but receiving a free service with no strings attached is harder to resist. In fact, it usually piques curiosity as to why someone would go out of his or her way to perform this act of kindness. Servant evangelism has the potential to soften people’s hearts, enabling them to hear and receive the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a good way to “water” seed previously sown (see 1 Corinthians 3:6).
Can you think of any things we should stop doing?
We can “agree to disagree” on issues that do not involve salvation or godly living. Our ultimate goal should not be to prove our point but to model the kind of love and acceptance that Jesus showed His disciples (John 13:34–35). Our goal should be to immerse ourselves in God’s Word so that we recognize error when we hear it. But we must also purpose to approach every non-essential issue with a teachable spirit so that we can best fulfill God’s desire for unity in His church (1 John 4:12). In the words of 17th-century theologian Rupertus Meldenius, “In the essentials, unity; in the non-essentials, diversity; in all things, charity.”
TAKING IT HOME
Prayer Suggestion: Instead of sharing your prayer requests and not getting much time to actually pray, try just praying your prayer requests in your group. Again, try to pray one topic at a time, short prayer, and pray repeatedly.
1. We all have different aptitudes and abilities when it comes to where, when and how much we pray. Yet we know ongoing communication and connection is vital to any healthy relationship, including with God. One reason we may find it difficult to pray is that we haven’t created places and habits that help us pray and connect with God on an ongoing basis. Here are a few practical suggestions on how to develop your prayer life:
- Schedule it
- Get away on occasion
- Pray aloud to help you focus
- Listen as well as talk
- Use Scripture as your guide
Which if any of these do you already tend to do? Are there other ideas or suggestions you’ve found to be helpful when it comes to prayer?
2. How can the group pray for you this week?
- As Hebrews 10:24-25 reminds us, one of the many benefits of meeting weekly with a group of believers in a Community Group is to encourage each other as we continue to become more like Jesus.
24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.[NIV]
After listening to your group members share, is there any encouragement you found that can help you apply in the prayer time?