If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat Participant's Guide: A 6-Session Journey on Learning to Trust God [NOOK Book]


In this six-session study pastor and author John Ortberg teaches people how to trust God more fully. Using testimonial interviews to illustrate his talks, Ortberg teaches participants the skills essential for “water-walking” in faith with God. Designed for use with the video.

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If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat Participant's Guide: A 6-Session Journey on Learning to Trust God

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In this six-session study pastor and author John Ortberg teaches people how to trust God more fully. Using testimonial interviews to illustrate his talks, Ortberg teaches participants the skills essential for “water-walking” in faith with God. Designed for use with the video.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780310692225
  • Publisher: Zondervan
  • Publication date: 5/15/2013
  • Sold by: Zondervan Publishing
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 128
  • Sales rank: 216,682
  • File size: 3 MB

Read an Excerpt

If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat Participant's Guide

By John Ortberg, Stephen Sorenson, Amanda Sorenson


Copyright © 2003 John Ortberg
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-310-69222-5



What's Water-Walking?

There is something–Someone–inside us who tells us there is more to life than sitting in the boat. You were made for something more.... There is something inside you that wants to walk on the water–to leave the comfort of routine existence and abandon yourself to the high adventure of following God.

–John Ortberg

Questions to Think About

1. What kinds of things do you trust in, especially when life gets stormy, that help you feel comfortable and secure rather than fearful? Be honest!

[Your Response]

2. Explain why you do or do not believe that God calls everyone who follows him to step out in faith and do something extraordinary. What does "stepping out in faith" look like?

[Your Response]

3. How would you define failure?

[Your Response]

4. Thus far in life, what has been your experience with failure ? What has failure kept you from doing? What has failure done for you?

[Your Response]

Video Observations

Images of a balloon ride

[Your Notes]

Following Jesus: choosing between comfort and growth

[Your Notes]

Did Peter fail–or succeed?

[Your Notes]

Discovering the power of Jesus

[Your Notes]

Video Highlights

1. When John Ortberg and his wife took their hot-air balloon ride, the competence of their pilot became very important to them. Why is it so important for us to know the competence and trustworthiness of whoever pilots our lives?

[Your Response]

2. Jesus invited Peter to step out of the boat and walk with him–to do something Peter could not do on his own–and Peter couldn't resist the opportunity. Jesus is still looking for people who love and trust him enough to step out of the boat. What do you find intriguing about stepping out of the boat?

[Your Response]

3. What are your thoughts on John Ortberg's comments about failure, particularly that failure has more to do with the way we view the outcome of an event than what actually happened?

[Your Response]

Large Group Exploration

An Adventure in the Dark

Let's take a closer look at what happened when Jesus revealed himself to his disciples as they sailed across the stormy Sea of Galilee, because that event matters a great deal to us today. We too have the opportunity to walk with Jesus in places we wouldn't dream of going on our own. Like each of the disciples, we must choose how we will respond to God. Will we sit in the boat, like the eleven disciples? Or will we, like Peter, leave the security of the boat and give God the opportunity to use us in extraordinary ways?

1. When Jesus told the disciples to sail to the other side of the Sea of Galilee without him, they obeyed. But what happened as they sailed? (See Matthew 14:22–26; Mark 6:45–50.)

[Your Response]

2. What did Jesus say to them, and why is this significant today? (See Matthew 14:27.)

[Your Response]

3. From Peter's perspective, recap what happened after Jesus told the disciples who he was. What is significant about Peter's response to Jesus? (See Matthew 14:28–32.)

[Your Response]

4. What impact did this event have on the disciples? (See Matthew 14:33; Mark 6:51.)

[Your Response]

5. What impact do you think this event had on Peter?

[Your Response]

Small Group Exploration

Topic A

Where Do We Place Our Trust When We Are Afraid?

God knows how fearful we are, and he sometimes uses uncomfortable, real-world challenges to cause us to choose where we will place our trust. John Ortberg explains it this way: "The decision to grow [spiritually] always involves a choice between risk and comfort. This means that to be a follower of Jesus you must renounce comfort as the ultimate value of your life." Let's explore what God says about fear and choosing where we place our trust.

1. What happens when we place our trust in "boats" of our own making instead of placing our trust in God? (See Psalm 49:1–13.)

[Your Response]

2. What did David realize about finding security in God rather than in things? (See Psalm 20:6–7; 118:6–9.)

[Your Response]

3. What do the following verses reveal about God?

a. Psalm 18:1–3

[Your Response]

b. Psalm 56:3–4

[Your Response]

c. Jeremiah 17:7–8

[Your Response]

4. What has God said to his people over and over again, and why do you think he repeated it? (See Genesis 15:1; 21:17; Joshua 8:1; Daniel 10:12.)

[Your Response]

Topic B

What Happened When These People Got Out of Their Boats?

The Bible records the stories of many people who had to choose whether to trust God and step out in faith. Let's explore what happened to two men who, like Peter, decided to trust God and leave behind the security, comfort, and safety they had tried to provide for themselves.


1. What happened when Moses–the adopted son of the Pharaoh's daughter–took matters into his own hands when he saw an Israelite being mistreated by an Egyptian? (See Exodus 2:10–15; 3:1.)

[Your Response]

2. How did God appear to Moses, and what did he want Moses to do? (See Exodus 3:1–4, 9–10.)

[Your Response]

3. How did Moses respond when God presented the invitation to step out of the boat? (See Exodus 3:11–13; 4:13.)

[Your Response]

4. Finally Moses took the plunge and returned to Egypt to urge Pharaoh to let the Israelites go. What happened as a result of God's power and the shepherd's water-walking obedience? (See Exodus 12:31–37.)

[Your Response]


5. Where was Gideon trying to find comfort and safety when God approached him? (See Judges 6:11.)

[Your Response]

6. Gideon was afraid to take the challenge the angel of the Lord presented to him. How did God respond to his fears? (See Judges 6:12–18; 7:9–15.)

[Your Response]

7. How did God use this "insignificant" farmer who finally decided to obey and trust him? (See Judges 7:16–24.)

[Your Response]

Group Discussion

1. Fear of failure is one reason many of us don't step out of the boat. Some people view Peter's walk on the water as a failure, but John Ortberg points out that there were eleven bigger failures sitting in the boat. In what ways does our perception of failure affect our willingness to start water-walking?

[Your Response]

2. How much does our view of God's character and competence influence the degree to which we are willing to trust him and, in faith, to accept his calling and take risks?

[Your Response]

3. Would you agree that sometimes the "boats" we create–whatever gives us an illusion of control, whatever or whomever (besides God) we are tempted to put our trust in when life is stormy–might actually be more dangerous than water-walking with Jesus? Why or why not?

[Your Response]

4. If we keep choosing not to step out of our boats, what happens to us? To people around us? To our relationship with God?

[Your Response]

Personal Journey: To Do Now

1. In If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat, John Ortberg writes, "I believe that there is some aspect of your life in which God is calling you to walk with and to him, and that when we say yes to his calling, it sets in motion a divine dynamic far beyond merely human power." In what ways might God be calling you to get out of your "boat" and step out in faith?

[Your Response]

2. Usually anyone who begins water-walking has to face personal fear. What deep fears keep you from really walking with and obeying God, from stepping out in faith and with his help doing what you could never do on your own? List fears that are specific to the calling you wrote down for question 1.

[Your Response]

3. Looking back on your life so far, when have you said no to God's call? When have you said yes? Why? What happened as a result of those choices?

[Your Response]

4. Which small or large steps can you begin taking this week to get out of your boat a little each day?

[Your Response]

Personal Journey: To Do on Your Own

You've learned a few basics about water-walking and have been encouraged to think about your choices, your boats, and the opportunity to water-walk. It's easy to seek comfort and create boats, isn't it? That's why so many people choose that path. But God is calling you, as he calls every believer, to put your faith in him and start getting out of your boat a little more each day.

Set aside some quiet time to think about the following questions. There are no right or wrong answers, and nobody needs to know your responses, unless you choose to discuss them with someone. What's important is that you take time to reflect on some issues that you explored today, issues that may cause you to become uncomfortable or even a bit angry–at yourself, God, or someone else. By their nature, some of the boats people create are pretty ugly and secretive. Remember, though, that God loves you just the way you are. Whenever you are willing to get out of the boat, he is ready to help you do things you could never accomplish on your own. One of the first steps in the process of water-walking is assessing honestly where you are right now–and where you want to be.

1. Look back on your life. When have you stepped up to the plate, to use a baseball analogy, and tried to hit the ball? When have you refused to get out of the dugout when your name was called? Why? How have those decisions influenced your life–for better or worse?

[Your Response]

2. Are you excited about your relationship with God right now? Is it dynamic and growing, or pretty stale? Why? How might what you've learned about water-walking start making a difference in your relationship with God?

[Your Response]

3. Do you think you are a risk taker or a comfort seeker? Why? Write out some ways in which you have taken risks in your walk with God and ways you have deliberately chosen to seek comfort rather than take the risk of what God was calling you to do.

[Your Response]

4. Ask God to make your heart and mind open to what he wants to reveal to you through this study and to give you the courage to face whatever issues come up in the remaining sessions.

[Your Response]

Excerpted from If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat Participant's Guide by John Ortberg. Copyright © 2003 by John Ortberg. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents



Session 1: What's Water-Walking?          

Session 2: The Tragedy of the Unopened Gift          

Session 3: Find Your Calling and Get Your Feet Wet!          

Session 4: Facing Our Challenges, Conquering Our Fears          

Session 5: Good News for Cave Dwellers          

Session 6: Learning to Wait on Our Big God          

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 23, 2011

    Another book for introspection.

    Not what I expected. Read half the book and gave it to a book sale.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Good companion book to the main text.

    This companion guide has some very good thought provoking questions and challenges to people who really want to get out of the boat do God's work.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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