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Preparing to Lead a Small Group Discussion

The goal of Bible study is to know God. Yet, there is a great difference between intellectual assent of the concept of God’s love and a personal experiential knowledge of how much God loves us. This is where community comes in. Biblical truths will often remain abstract concepts until we catch a glimpse of them being fleshed out within the context of relationships. We begin to understand sacrificial love, mercy or grace because someone has demonstrated them to us.  

At Covenant EFC, we believe discipleship best happens in the context of relationships because life transformation best happens in such a context. John Ortberg puts it beautifully: “God uses people to form people. That is why what happens between you and another person is never merely human-to-human interaction — the Spirit longs to be powerfully at work in every encounter.” 

This transformation in the community life happens when, with God’s spiritual gifts in us, we make ministering to one another’s lives a priority beyond just completing the study. 

Here are some tips as you lead a small group discussion. (adapted from From Learning to Care by Navpress, pg 98) 

  1. Serve as a facilitator, not a lecturer. Your goal is to encourage personal interaction and self-discovery. Avoid pitfalls of being overly directive or too passive. 
  2. Focus on what Scripture has to say – and not on you as the leader. Point members to Scripture and allow the Holy Spirit to make application according to each member’s needs. 
  3. Maintain an atmosphere of love and acceptance which will lead to open discussion. Never put down a person’s comments or contribution. 
  4. Ask open-ended questions which have several possible answers and which can’t be answered by a simple “yes” or “no”. 
  5. Encourage involvement by calling on non-participants by name to respond. This also helps control the “overly” talkative. 
  6. Stimulate discussion by active feedback to responses such as:
    – Acknowledging responses whenever you can.
    – Asking follow-up questions to clarify a too general or “vague” response.
  7. Deal with wrong responses and comments by asking, “What do others think?” or “Does everyone agree?” Never tell a person he is wrong. This kills an open discussion atmosphere. 
  8. Encourage application by asking, “What should we do differently as a result of this discussion?” 
  9. Keep the discussion on track by acknowledging the problem or new issue raised, but suggesting that you table the issue until you finish your present discussion. Your attitude toward the tangent should always be positive. 
  10. Summarize the main ideas that are presented to help keep the group focused. 

May God grant you wonderful, life-giving encounters with His Word in your community!  

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Daily Devo

Daily Devotional Journal

Scripture:
Jonah 4:1-9
Fri, 28 January 2022

The Angry Man

Observation:

What question does God ask Jonah twice in this passage?

Deeper Reflection
IN CHAPTER 4 WE GET A GLIMPSE OF THE REBELLIOUS prophet’s true worldview and values. We would expect Jonah to be delighted that the Ninevites experienced God’s mercy, as he himself did (Jon 2:6). Then, the first word of chapter 4 – BUT – hits us like a sledgehammer. BUT Jonah was exceedingly displeased! He was angry! Why? Because, as verse 2 reveals, Jonah the rebellious prophet had not truly changed his perspective, even after his fish belly experience. He tells God: I told you so! That is why I never wanted to preach to the Ninevites – because I knew that You would forgive them. Jonah had preached, hoping that God would not be gracious to Nineveh, or that the Ninevites would not repent, thereby incurring judgment. Jonah resented God’s grace to the undeserving – except when he himself was the recipient.74 God asks Jonah a rhetorical question twice in verses 4 and 9: do you have a right to be angry? The second time, Jonah actually answers this question – YES, I DO, I’m angry enough to die. Aren’t we all somewhat petulant and immature like Jonah? We love God’s grace – primarily when it is extended to us. When we see others receive God’s grace, our first instinct may be to cry “Unfair!” rather than rejoice with them. Or we think it unfair when we do not receive the grace we (ironically) think we deserve. Jonah was very happy when God graciously provided him a plant (v.6), but furious when God took it away. God’s grace is His prerogative – we never have a right to demand it. And He is gracious to all!
74 Stuart, Hosea-Jonah, 443.
Application:

How do I deal with feelings of “unfairness” when I do not receive the blessings that I think I deserve, or when I see others blessed “more” than me?

Prayer:
Write a prayer to God as your response from your meditation on and application of the Scriptures.
Prayer Pointers:
  • Give thanks and praise
  • Pray for SGI leaders: That all small group leaders will depend deeply on God’s grace and serve others because of it
  • Pray for significant people
  • Pray for those in need
  • Pray for self

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