One great joy for Eric and me during our time in the U.S. has been an opportunity to serve at our local church, Mt. Laurel Evangelical Free Church. In December I wrote this Bible Study that is now being implemented in eight different communities across South Jersey. We are really excited about what GOD is doing here. This study comes out of a simple, interactive Bible Study method that Eric and I learned while serving in Japan and that we have used in a variety of contexts. This study is great for both mature believers as well as for seekers. The purpose is to allow participants to experience the realities of Jesus and the Gospel in their everyday lives.
(Email me if you would like to have this sent to you as a Word document).
People who Met Jesus
Discovery Bible Study
Discovery Bible Study Overview
This Bible study is designed to be simple, relevant, and non-scary. There are two main purposes to each lesson: a) to provide a simple format for God to speak to each person through his Word; and b) Praying together about real needs so that each participant can see that God is completely relevant – and working – today.
Each week we will study one story from the Gospel in which people (often a lot like us!) met Jesus. We will use a very simple format to study the passage together and see how it might relate to us. This will be an experiential Bible Study and will be informative and enjoyable for those who already know a lot about Jesus and the Bible as well as those for whom this might be the first time to study. It will also be a time for women to share together about the needs and joys of our daily lives and experiences.
Premises of Interactive Discovery Bible Study:
1. God’s Word is relevant and personal in 2009.
2. God wants to speak to all of us with the goal of transforming us towards Christ.
3. The Holy Spirit is an amazing teacher. We can trust Him to be at work and speak through the Word.
4. The Gospels are a great place for Christians and non-Christians to learn (more) about who Jesus is and what He wants to do in our every day lives.
5. People will only be transformed if they are convinced that God is relevant for them.
6. Praying together with non-Christians about real needs in their lives makes God real. This places the burden and responsibility of their salvation on God, and not us.
Goals of Bible Study for each participant:
— Gain new understanding/insight into who Jesus is each week
— Experience/meet Jesus in a new way by opening our hearts up to His Word
— Experience the reality of God’s power, love and peace through small group prayer
— Recognize that the Bible applies to real needs in our lives
“God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s Word. We can’t get away from it—no matter what.” (Hebrews 4:12, 13, the Message)
“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:11-13 (New International Version)
Bible Passages & Weekly Content
# Title Passage Theme
For Leaders Jesus makes Fishers of Men Luke 5:1-11 Jesus, the Master Fisherman
Ice-Breaker question: What one goal do you hope to accomplish this year?
Or What one thing would you try if you had no fear?
Central Truths*/Questions: Jesus wants us to continue growing in faith. What faith step is Jesus asking you to make? What is your response to Him?
1. Paralytic and his Friends Luke 5:17-26 Jesus Responds to Our Faith
Ice-Breaker question: What do you miss about childhood?
or What’s the worst gift you’ve ever received or ever given?
Central Truths*/Questions: Exciting things happen when people gather and together come before Jesus. What do you need Jesus to do in your life today?
2. Woman who Anointed Jesus’ Feet Luke 7:36-50 Jesus Forgives Sins and Desires our Devotion
Ice-Breaker Question: In which activity would you like a lesson/lessons from an expert?
Central Truths/Questions: Jesus doesn’t judge us based upon our past or our sins. What others think of us is not important. He desires our devotion. What is our response to Jesus’ love for us today?
3. Zacchaeus Luke 19:1-10 Jesus wants to Enter our Lives
Ice-Breaker question: Who would you like to trade places with for one month
OR Which event in the past, present, or future would you like to witness in person?
Central Truths*/Questions: Jesus wants to come into our homes. He wants to be part of our everyday lives. What is keeping us from letting him in? What do we need to do about it?
4. Jesus Appears to Two men on road Luke 24:13-35 Jesus Brings Understanding
Ice-Breaker Question: What song evokes the strongest memories/emotions for you?
OR What’s your favorite quotation?
Central Truths*/Questions: The Lord has the power to open up scriptures to our hearts. Do we recognize him speaking? (Or how do we see him speaking in our lives today?) What are the next steps?
*Central Truths: In reality there is more than one central truth in each of these passages. I have chosen one that seems significant to our lives and can challenge us to know Jesus more. Feel free to discover your own.
Preparation for Bible Study:
At first study: Give each woman a New Testament and a Discovery journal.
The journal is for them to use as they would like. We will be using it briefly each week during the study. We will also give out optional assignments for reading during the week that will allow the women to read through the Gospel of Luke during the month. In the journal, we will encourage them to write about what they are experiencing and learning about God each week.
Suggest anyone with interest/time read through four chapters of Luke each week and keep simple notes in their journal. The following application questions will be on a laminated bookmark in their Bible. (Possibly with some references/prayers/help on the back of the card? Any ideas?)
1)At beginning of each day’s study- read what you have written this week. Jot down here any new thoughts you have had and ways that you see God at work in your life.
2)Read in the Gospel of Luke starting in Chapter 1, verse 1
3)What is one truth I learn about God from this passage?
4)How might this passage/truth apply to me, today?
5)Write out a simple prayer, being as specific and direct as possible.
Discovery Bible Study Format:
Part A. Icebreaker (10 minutes)
1) Ice-Breaker (Suggestions given with each week – you can write these down and have people guess who said what, or just go around and share them)
Part B. Bible Reading: Read in several versions; ask for questions; go around and read
2) Have someone open up the time in a simple prayer.
3) Give out Bibles, if necessary. Read the entire passage of scripture as a group, assigning several individuals to read the passage in a number of different versions (eg. NIV, The Message). Ask if there are any questions related to difficult words or hard-to-understand meaning. (Note: Do not let this become a time for theological discussions – keep this part as simple and short as possible unless God is really leading differently!).
4) Read the passage one more time by going around the room and have everyone read one verse at a time. (Note: We are reading it a number of times to begin to let the words sink into our heart. It takes awhile to get rid of all the things on our mind – this method allows us to hear the word in different ways and for the Spirit to begin to speak).
Part C. Letting God Speak to Us: pray for direction; silent meditation; sharing in small groups (15-20 minutes)
5) Ask someone to pray for the Holy Spirit’s direction to: a) speak to each of us directly from this passage b) help me to do what He is telling me to do. Note: This is probably the most important part of the study – we are opening ourselves up to the power of God to speak into our lives through the Scripture.
6) Ask everyone to take 5-8 minutes to read the text again silently with an expectant heart, taking time to reflect and seek responses to a) & b) above. Your eyes might fall on one verse or phrase – stay with that and allow God to speak into your life. There may be a general theme that God is speaking to you about. There are no right or wrong ideas!
7) In groups of about 3, share what you have learned, keeping the focus on the Bible. (Note: Be sure and place a leader/church member in each small group. Have that leader/Christian begin the sharing in order to set the right tone. Give people the freedom not to share. When you are able, encourage specific application: “What do you think that means in your circumstances?” ). Let everyone know that when you return to the larger group, you will each share what someone else in your group has shared. If it is of a personal nature, it is fine in the larger group to generalize or summarize.
8) Have the groups come back together. Again, have the leader start to set the tone and example of what you expect. Go around and have each person share what one other person in the group shared. This step is a wonderful way for us to receive multiple messages from the same passage. I am always amazed at what others learn from the same passage that I have been studying! It will also give you a feel of what people are hearing/understanding.
Part D. Our Response to God:
Note: The following step (9) is recommended, but optional. If (8) sharing has felt significant for most people and that the members have understood some of the truths of the passage and good sharing has flowed, you do not need to do this step. This next step is intended to help draw out truth and specific application. Let the Holy Spirit guide you. If you skip this, go to power prayer (10) below.
9) Applying Central Truth: Share central truth and follow-up questions; silent prayer; write down specific area; share together (15 minutes)
Designated leader can share the simple central truth and open up the way for further small group discussion/challenge: (Passage of the friends who brought the Paralytic to Jesus)
One truth we can learn from this passage is that exciting things happen when people come together and bring their needs to Jesus. One thing I love when I read this passage is realizing that we don’t have to do life, or learn about God, alone. But we can do it together. In this small group here, we have a chance to bring our needs before Jesus. We can do it together.
Let’s spend a couple of minutes in silent prayer, asking God what He might want to do in your life today. Use your journal to write down a specific area you want God to work in. In a few minutes, we will share these things, and then pray for each other.
Have 2-4 minutes of quiet meditation in which members write down one or two areas they are challenged by; then return to small groups.
Share these things in your small groups – again encourage people who are willing to be specific. Having it written down will help keep sharing on target and concise.
10) Pray together (5 minutes).
Keep it simple, encouraging everyone to “try” praying, emphasizing simple conversation. I like to encourage short, power prayers: going around and praying for the person on our left a short, specific prayer: “God, thanks for speaking to _____ about her need to trust you more with her daughter. We pray that this week she would see that you are able to help her daughter in ways that are very tangible. Amen.”
This will end the Bible study- you can have a time of coffee, refreshments, etc.
Be sure the first week to share about the journals and optional activity of reading the Bible during the week – only for those who want to. Announce the next meeting. Once you have begun meeting, you can also use coffee time to update each other on what has been going on during the week. If God is answering prayer, people will want to gossip about it! J