Your group has made it to the third week and is hopefully getting into a groove. A few things to do before your gathering this week:
Contact anyone who didn’t make it last week, letting them know they were missed. Reach out to anyone else in your group whom God puts on your heart; perhaps a woman shared something difficult last week or dared to pray out loud, encourage her.
Remind whomever signed up to bring refreshments that it’s her week to bring them.
Pray for your group and your time together this week.
>>> LEADER TIP: try a moment of silence before starting
Begin with 1-5 minutes of silence followed by a brief prayer to center ourselves towards God and to prepare us to listen to Him. Especially because silence was a part of last week’s soul training, this is a great time to try! It may feel awkward at first but will get easier with practice and pay huge dividends in the answers that are shared in group, once our hearts and minds are centered on God. Make sure to try this!
We read this statement together before every group discussion. It helps transition the group to discussion time, it reaffirms our highest values, and sets a tone of trust, consistency, and safety for everyone in the group.
We are a group of imperfect people pursuing a perfect God. We exist to help each other find and follow Christ. These are some things we want to be true of our group:
- We create a safe and honest environment, staying transparent and authentic.
- We keep it inside the circle. Confidentiality is necessary for a healthy group.
- We look together to the Bible for help and guidance, and keep out our own politics, sales, or agendas.
- We do not try to fix each other, preach sermons, or give unsolicited advice. We instead encourage, listen to, and celebrate each other.
- We handle conflict between us quickly and honestly by going to the person, owning our part, and practicing forgiveness.
- We respect each others’ time by starting and ending when we say we will.
- We trust that it is God’s role to change people, not ours.
- We believe that in Jesus Christ, there is hope for everyone.
If you unexpectedly had an entire day to do anything you wanted, how would you spend it?
For homework last week we read chapter two titled, “God is Good” and our soul training exercise was silence and awareness of creation. James Bryan Smith wrote about receiving news that his daughter in utero had severe birth defects and shared his struggle with questioning God’s goodness in light of this life-altering news. It is a common narrative that God is an angry God who punishes us for our sins, but the God Jesus knows and reveals is good--meaning there is nothing bad about God.
The soul training exercise was to twofold: to find five minutes of silence each day and to pay close attention to the created world around you to experience God’s goodness.
>>> LEADER TIP: Divide and conquer
You can divide into groups of three or four or stay as a large group for this check-in, you decide. Spend time discussing what you learned from the two soul-training exercises. Encourage people that even if they didn’t get to do the soul training, they can still talk about what stood in their way, what makes it hard, or how they’d like to try it this week! No judgment here!
What, if anything, did you learn about God or yourself through the exercises?
Was it easy or hard for you to find five minutes of silence each day?
What stood out for you as you paid closer attention to the created world around you?
The author shares a story of being confronted by a friend who says that either his sin or his wife’s sin had caused his daughter Madeline’s illness. What was your reaction to the story?
Turn to page 39, have you ever been through a situation that made you doubt God’s goodness? If so, describe what happened and how you felt.
Turn to page 40, why does the author believe it is so important for our belief about God to be consistent with Jesus’ belief? Do you agree?
On page 41, “God is an angry judge. If you do well, you will be blessed. If you sin, you will be punished.” Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not?
Still on page 41, have you ever wondered how and when you would be punished by God for a particular sin? Or have you ever had something bad happen to you and wondered what you did to deserve it? Explain.
On page 43, when confronted with someone’s suffering, have you ever wondered, What did they do to deserve that? Why is this response so common?
On pages 46, name some of the “peculiarly good” consequences (character, disposition, reputation) that are a part of the lives of those who do good.
On page 48, does the fact that God has the final say in all of life offer you comfort? Hope? Frustration? Why?
- Chapter 3: "God is Trustworthy."
Soul Training: counting your blessings
- Make a list of the blessings in your life, adding to it each day.
>>> LEADER TIP: encouraging the homework
Encourage your group to do the homework and exercises, knowing that in any group, you get out of it what you put into it, but tell them to show up to group regardless of how much reading and homework they completed that week. Being together is the main point of why we meet!
What can we be praying for you this week? What are some things for which we can thank our good God?