When we gather as a group, these are some ways we ensure the best group discussion:
We make the circle safe by staying honest and transparent - leave the masks at the door.
We keep it inside the circle. Each person’s story is theirs alone to share.
We look to the Bible for wisdom and truth, and work together to let it shape how we see the world.
We don’t try to fix each other in front of each other or give unsolicited advice. We lovingly save hard conversations for private moments.
We respect each others’ time by starting and ending when we say we will.
We believe that in Jesus Christ, there is hope for everyone.
On Easter, Jesus flipped the script from death to life, and it changed everything. The first thing it changed was his closest friends and followers! Alone, defeated, and scared for their lives, they had just watched the best man they ever knew die unjustly and without honor. They were full of doubt, and it didn’t seem like anything could change that - a place most of us are pretty familiar with. But Jesus didn’t leave them in their doubt - he moved toward them in the middle of it and gave them exactly what they needed to turn their doubt into faith.
Remember, the questions are not a checklist to be completed, or in the perfect order! They’re simply guardrails to help you have a natural discussion about what we learned on Sunday.
Connect with each other
No doubt is new
If you’ve ever had doubts about God in any capacity, you’re in good company… because every character throughout the entire Bible, as well as Jesus’ closest friends and followers, doubted him as well! In fact, everyone who has followed Jesus has wrestled with doubt - and not a single one of them has been new.
Throughout your life, what have you thought or been taught about the relationship between doubt and faith?
Mike said the two main questions doubt comes back to are “is it worth it?” and “is it true?” Think about your own doubts - how might they line up with those two questions?
Connect with the Message
Jesus doesn’t throw you out…
Jesus doesn’t throw you out when you doubt - actually, the only way to follow Jesus is WITH doubt! You don’t have to explain everything to believe in something.
Mike said that doubt is actually important because it leads to discovery - have your doubts ever lead to important discoveries?
Have you ever been ashamed of your doubts about God? What do you think caused that urge to hide them?
Doubting Thomas (read John 20:24-28 together for context)
Jesus’ closest friends and followers have left everything they’ve ever had to follow the best man and teacher they’ve ever known - and now he’s dead. They’re scared and alone, but Jesus shows up and shocks them - all but Thomas, who wasn’t there. Thomas says “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
Thomas has to wait a full agonizing week for Jesus to show up to him - but he stayed with his friends and navigated his doubt instead of running from it. Are you navigating your doubts openly with trusted people that are on the same path?
When Jesus shows up to Thomas, he gives him exactly what he needs - he tells Thomas to put his finger on his nail-scarred hands. What do you think he would need to give you to flip your doubt to faith?
Practical tips for when we doubt
It’s not about trying NOT to doubt - it’s about knowing what to do WHEN we doubt! So WHEN we doubt, Mike gave us a few practical tips to remember.
The first is to do the work. Do the work of understanding what you doubt, where it came from, and what you need to do to earnestly investigate it.
Sometimes we say we have doubts, but honestly just don’t want to live under God’s authority. For you, has doubt ever been a mask for rebellion?
Have you earnestly investigated your doubts before? What was that like? If you haven’t, what has stopped you?
The second is to look at the cross. A God who loved us when we were his enemies is a God we can trust when he calls us his friends.
How does looking at the cross help fuel our discovery when it comes to our doubts?
The third is to find the empty tomb. Even if you doubt, something happened right after Jesus dies that changed the entire world.
Why is grappling with the empty tomb so important to someone’s journey following Jesus?
We are always on the journey, because we are all in-progress people. And moving toward out doubts is a huge part of the process.
What do you need to move toward this week?
Where are you going to start?
Who do you need to bring with you?
READ. PRAY. DO.
Mike said no matter what you believe about Jesus’ resurrection, it’s clear SOMETHING HAPPENED after Jesus’ death to flip the world upside down. So start reading about what happened after Jesus rose from the dead - Acts is the story of how the disciples moved from fear and doubt to faith and passion because of what they saw happen!
Check out this video overview of the book of Acts before you jump in!
Pray this prayer on your own, or use it to kickstart your own personal prayer time.
adapted from “Every Moment Holy” by Douglas Kaine McKelvey
Father, there are so many moments when I cannot sense you near, cannot hear you, see you, touch you. There are times when doubt, fear, or depression overwhelm, when I find no help or consolation, when the seawalls of my faith crumble and give way to floods of doubt. Under weight of such darkness, how can I remember the sunlight of your love as anything more than a distant dream?
The only thing I can do is drag my heavy heart again into this cleared and desolate space, to see if you will meet me in my place of doubt. Just as you mercifully met Thomas in his uncertainty, just as you pulled Peter out of the thrashing waves. Where else can I go with my doubts? You alone have the words of eternal life.
Remind me again that you are never angry or impatient with my doubts and questions. Let them fuel my efforts to seek you and understand where my doubts come from. Turn my doubt into faith, and my faith into action.
Investigate some doubts
Everyone has doubts - they’re not wrong to have! Faith is fueled by doubts, because they push us toward the source of the answers. Own up to a doubt you have about God, and make a plan to start investigating it! Do some research. Ask a trusted friend to investigate with you. Pray through it.
Mike mentioned a few really important resources that were a great place to start. Pick one and start investigating!