Click here to download the Study Guide in WORD
INTERACTING WITH THE SERMON
SYNOPSIS OF THE SERMON
In this week’s sermon, Pastor Rich debunks the myth that “I Don’t Need Church.” Despite all sorts of excuses for limited to zero involvement in church – Paul reveals in Romans 12 the only way for real life change to occur, is when we’re deeply connected and rooted in church. Paul knew 2000 years ago before Tina Rosenberg “discovered” in her book Join the Club that groups have transformative power. The reality is you are not going to change nor become the person God intends you to be nor become who you want to be without the whole church. Romans 12:3-16 destroys the myth that Christianity is just a private and personal matter. To be a Christian is to be part of something bigger than ourselves. The church, or the body, is where we can receive life changing teaching, personal encouragement, help to break destructive habits, and comfort in painful experiences.
In 5 minutes or less, briefly give a synopsis of this week’s sermon. What insight, principle, or observation from this weekend’s message did you find to be most helpful, eye-opening, or troubling? Explain.
GETTING THE CONVERSATION STARTED
These questions can be used as ice-breakers in the beginning OR interwoven between the questions below to draw the group into the discussion.
•Look back at the last few years of your life. How have you changed? What moments most impacted that change? Briefly share with the group.
•Briefly share a time when you really felt blessed by the church. Share about a time in the past or currently when you felt frustrated with the church.
•Think of a time in your life when you really felt in need. Share about that time. What helped you to persevere in that time?
Read 1 Thessalonians 4: 12-18
12 Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. 13 Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. 14 And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
•In vv. 12-13 Paul asks the Thessalonians to hold those who are over them in high regard and to do so lovingly. Why might this be an important aspect of unity within the Church? Generally in our culture, how would you describe the typical relationship with an overseer? How do those relationships compare to those here in v. 12-13? Think of some examples of people in your life who have “admonished” or “cared” for you in a positive way? Briefly share how that has influenced who you are now?
•vv. 14-15 is a great picture of believers rallying around and encouraging those who are struggling and in need. According to this passage, how crucial of a role does the community play in transforming someone? Have you ever found yourself in a time of need or struggle? How did those around you respond? Did you feel encouraged by a community of believers or did you feel isolated? How did that experience “transform” you? How is loving relationship in community a reflection of God’s love? Please discuss.
•In v. 14 Paul is addressing some sensitive situations. Confronting the disorderly, encouraging the dispirited, and helping those who are weak. Putting yourself in the position of caregiver, what can we learn from this passage about how to confront these situations? Discuss what it looks like for a follower of Jesus to confront, encourage and help those who they are concerned about in a loving way
•Discuss the phrase “what is good for each other” from v. 15. What is the good that Paul is referring too? Does this point of view emphasize the community or the individual? Note the phrase “and for everyone else” in v. 15. As the church practices doing what is good for one another, what kind of impact might that have on those outside of the church? How might you demonstrate God’s love to a non-Christian friend in the context of community?
•According to vv. 16-18 how should you respond to life’s difficulties? How does being a part of a community of believers your attitude towards God? How does loving community help us to respond to hardship?
•Paul says it is God’s will for us to live life this way. But in times of great difficulty these commands seem nearly impossible. Briefly share a time when you gave thanks despite difficult circumstances. What did that look like for you? What helped you to persevere? How did that impact those around you who witnessed your struggle, specifically those who did not know Jesus?
Below you’ll see some options for ministry time with your group. We always encourage you to reserve time in your group to pray for one another and wait on the Holy Spirit.
•Discuss ways in which you can be more welcoming to those outside of your community. Pray that God would bring more people into your small group. Ask God to use you to communicate his love to the un-churched through loving relationships.
•Pray for those who have been hurt in the past by the church. Invite the Holy Spirit to heal them of any bitterness and pray that they would move closer to forgiveness and to fully embracing the body of believers.
•Pray for those in or outside of your small group who have a serious need. Discuss ways that the need can be met by the community.
•Think of one or two specific people who you have a burden for. Pray for them. If they are not currently or never have attended a church pray for an opportunity to invite them into the community of the church.