First Corinthians - Women's Bible Study Leader Guide: Living Love When We Disagree

First Corinthians - Women's Bible Study Leader Guide: Living Love When We Disagree

by Melissa Spoelstra

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Overview

Relationships are messy. We're all different and imperfect, and we can struggle to get along—especially with those who disagree with us. Often we find ourselves divided—even as Christians. How can we work out our differences and disagreements with humility and grace, always showing the love of Christ, while still remaining true to what we believe?

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians living in Corinth about this very thing. The cultural backdrop of Corinth was even more overtly sinful than our culture today, yet Paul boldly encouraged the Corinthian Christians not to ridicule one another or outsiders but to work together to show the love of Christ. In this six-week study we will explore Paul's first letter to the Corinthians to learn how we as Christians are to deal with differences and divisions—whether in the workplace, neighborhood, school, home, social media community, or church. We'll discover that the answer is living and sharing the radical love of Jesus Christ, and we'll unpack what this means and how we can live it out day by day.

The Leader Guide, to be used along with the study's workbook and DVD, contains six session plan outlines, complete with discussion points and questions, activities, prayers, and more—plus leader helps for facilitating a group.

Other components for the Bible study, available separately, include a Participant Workbook, DVD with six 25-30 minute sessions, and boxed Leader Kit (an all-inclusive box containing one copy of each of the Bible study’s components).

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501801709
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Publication date: 08/02/2016
Series: First Corinthians Series
Edition description: Leaders Gu
Pages: 64
Sales rank: 394,501
Product dimensions: 7.80(w) x 9.70(h) x 0.20(d)

About the Author

Melissa Spoelstra is a popular women’s conference speaker (including the Aspire Women’s Events), Bible teacher, and author who is madly in love with Jesus and passionate about helping others to seek Christ and know Him more intimately.
She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Bible Theology and enjoys teaching God’s Word to diverse groups and churches within the body of Christ. She is a contributor to Girlfriends in God online devotional as well as Proverbs 31 ministries First Five app. She is the author of seven Bible studies (The Names of God, Romans, Elijah, Numbers, First Corinthians, Joseph, and Jeremiah) and four books (Total Family Makeover, Total Christmas Makeover, 30 Days of Prayer for Spiritual Stamina, and Dare to Hope). Melissa makes her home in Pickerington, Ohio, with her pastor husband and four kids.

Read an Excerpt

First Corinthians

Living Love When We Disagree Leader Guide


By Melissa Spoelstra

Abingdon Press

Copyright © 2016 Abingdon Press
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-5018-0170-9



CHAPTER 1

Week 1

IN CHRIST ALONE

1 Corinthians 1–2

Leader Prep


Memory Verse

I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. (1 Corinthians 1:10)


Digging Deeper

If you did not have an introductory session, read Digging Deeper Week 1, "My Town," and note any interesting facts or insights that you would like to share with the group. (See pages 25-26 for highlights; read the full article online at AbingdonPress.com/FirstCorinthians.)


Materials Needed

First Corinthians DVD and DVD player

• Stick-on nametags and markers (optional)

• Paper and pens or pencils (Optional Group Activity)

• Index cards or sticky notes (optional — Scriptures and Prayer Requests)


Session Outline

Note: Refer to the format templates on page 7 for suggested time allotments.


Welcome

Offer a word of welcome to the group. If time allows and you choose to provide food, invite the women to enjoy refreshments and fellowship. (Groups meeting for sixty minutes may want to have a time for food and fellowship before the official start time.) Be sure to watch the clock and move to the All Play icebreaker at the appropriate time.


All Play

Ask each group member to respond briefly to this question: Who is a person you admire and why? (It can be a person from history, a contemporary personality, or someone you know personally. Don't think too deeply. This is not the person you admire most but just someone you admire.)

Read aloud or paraphrase:

We all have those we look up to as great leaders, moms, teachers, or faithful followers of Jesus. The believers in Corinth also looked up to the apostles and other strong leaders. While people can model great attributes, we must be careful never to elevate the messenger above the message when it comes to the gospel of Christ. Our greatest mentors are those who point us to Jesus rather than themselves. Paul wanted the church at Corinth to depend on Christ alone for their salvation as well as for the power to live out their daily walk of faith. He encouraged them to remember that God's wisdom and the world's wisdom look very different at times.


Digging Deeper Insights

If you did not have an introductory session, share the insights you gained from Digging Deeper Week 1, "My Town," (highlights on pages 25-26; full article at AbingdonPress.com/FirstCorinthians). Share ways that the geography, history, religion, and customs of Corinth influenced the original audience of Paul's letter. Then ask this question: How has your town shaped you? If you choose, encourage group members to read the full article online.


Prayer

Before playing the video segment, ask God to prepare the group to receive His Word and hear His voice.


Video

Play the video for Week 1. Invite participants to complete the Video Viewer Guide for Week 1 in the participant book as they watch (pages 42-43). (Answers are provided on page 64 of this book.)


Group Discussion


Video Discussion Questions

• What is the difference between unity and uniformity, and why is this important for us as followers of Christ?

• What does seeing others as holy have to do with living love when we disagree?

• How can the new H20 — (hope of) heaven, Holy Spirit, optimism — help us navigate our differences and disagreements?


Participant Book Discussion Questions

Note: Page references are provided for those questions that relate to specific questions or activities in the participant book.

Before you begin, invite volunteers to look up the following Scriptures and be prepared to read them aloud when called upon. You might want to write each of the Scripture references on a separate index card or sticky note that you can hand out.

Scriptures:

1 Corinthians 1:1-3; 1 Corinthians 1:10-13; John 17:20-23; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25; Isaiah 29:13-14; 1 Corinthians 1:19; 1 Corinthians 1:31; Jeremiah 9:23-24; 1 Corinthians 2:1-9; Acts 18:1-11; Isaiah 64:1-4; 1 Corinthians 2:9; 1 Corinthians 2:10-16; John 14:16-17; Philippians 2:5-8; 1 Corinthians 2:16


Day 1: Spiritual Identity

• What are some topics on which Christians today often disagree?

• On page 10 we read, "The question isn't whether we will have disagreements in the church but how we will handle these conflicts." What are some words that describe healthy postures we can take in the midst of disagreement?

• What modern cities come to mind when you read about Corinth? What parallels do you find between Corinthian culture and our culture? (page 11)

• Read 1 Corinthians 1:1-3. Consider the disagreements you have observed within the body of Christ. How could seeing ourselves and one another as holy help with conflict resolution? (Answers will vary; there is no one right answer.) (page 13)


Day 2: Dealing with Divisions

• How do you think social media has impacted our forms of communication in both positive and negative ways?

• Read 1 Corinthians 1:10-13 and refer to the illustration on page 18. Which tendency do you identify with more: skeptic or sheeple? (page 18)

• What are some ways we can take a more balanced approach toward leaders in order to avoid relational idolatry?

• Read John 17:20-23. How have you seen unity expressed among believers in the midst of differing opinions? (page 20)


Day 3: The Foolish Plan of God

• Read 1 Corinthians 1:18-25. Verse 24 says that Christ is the "power of God and the wisdom of God." How do those attributes of Christ encourage you related to any situations you may be dealing with right now?

• Ask if any of the women would be willing to share how they answered this question: "When did you make a personal decision to follow Christ? Or if you've loved Jesus since you were a very young child, when did you begin to understand the message of the cross?" (page 24)

• Read Isaiah 29:13-14 and 1 Corinthians 1:19. From the perspective of hindsight, when and how have God's plans worked out better than your own plans? (page 25)

• When has God's wisdom not been in alignment with what made sense or felt right to you? (page 25)

• Read 1 Corinthians 1:31 and Jeremiah 9:23-24. According to these verses, what are we to boast about? Why is God the only One worth boasting about? (You might read this excerpt from page 28 aloud: "God doesn't want us to live with a distorted view of reality. He is the only One worth boasting about. He isn't a megalomaniac who is obsessed with people boasting about Him; He just favors the truth.")

• What are some character qualities of God you can boast about today?


Day 4: Beyond Imagination

• Read 1 Corinthians 2:1-9. How do you think persuasive words or a demonstrative presentation actually could have been detrimental to the clarity of Paul's message? (Think about times when someone's eloquence was a distraction to you.) (page 30)

• Do you think Paul is saying that we should never communicate the message of Jesus any way other than the plain method he used (nothing clever, articulate, or eloquent)? Explain your answer. (page 31)

• Read Acts 18:1-11. What additional insights do you gain from this passage about why Paul chose a simple approach to preaching the gospel to the Gentiles? (page 32)

• Read Isaiah 64:1-4 and 1 Corinthians 2:9. What glimpses of God's goodness can you identify in the midst of your "crazy" life?


Day 5: A Spiritual Mind

• Read 1 Corinthians 2:10-16. How would you summarize in one sentence what Paul is trying to tell us about God's Holy Spirit? (page 36)

• Read John 14:16-17. What are some of the ways the Holy Spirit helps us live godly lives (from this verse and any others that come to mind)?

• Paul said the Holy Spirit shows us God's deep secrets (1 Corinthians 2:10). What are some ways the Holy Spirit has revealed things to you personally? (page 38)

• Read Philippians 2:5-8 and 1 Corinthians 2:16. How does knowing that you possess the mind of Christ influence or affect your thought life?

• Allow women who completed the Weekly Wrap-up to briefly share any insights they gained from reading 1 Corinthians 1 and 2 in one sitting and reviewing highlights from the week's study.


Optional Group Activity (for a session longer than sixty minutes)

Pass out paper and pens or pencils (as needed), and ask the women to break into groups of three to five and compile a "top five" list of the qualities of a good leader. After a few minutes, come back together and have each group share their list. Ask: What were some common threads in the lists? What different qualities were listed as number one?

Say that some of us value certain characteristics in a leader over other qualities, and suggest that a helpful leadership acronym is FAT:

Faithful

Available

Teachable

Briefly discuss why these are important leadership qualities. Ask: Which do you believe is more important: ability or humility? Why?

Now break into your small groups again and list the top five qualities of a good follower. After a few minutes, come back together and ask: What characteristics did your two lists have in common? What different characteristics did you identify?

Read aloud or paraphrase:

At times, all of us are leaders; in other situations, we are followers. Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 1 and 2 not to get caught up focusing on the messenger. Instead, our focus should be on Christ alone and His gospel message.


Prayer Requests

Before sharing prayer requests, take time for a brief announcement if you will be doing the Optional Group Activity in your next group session. Ask each woman to bring a picture from her childhood to your next session to share with the group. (Digital pictures on phones or tablets will work, but prints that can be passed around are preferable.)

Invite the group members to share prayer requests and pray for one another. Use index cards or sticky notes, popcorn prayer, or another prayer technique included in Tips for Tackling Five Common Challenges (pages 12-16) to lead this time with intentionality and sensitivity.


DIGGING DEEPER WEEK 1 HIGHLIGHTS


My Town

See AbingdonPress.com/FirstCorinthians for the full article.

The places where we live shape us in ways we may not even realize. I grew up in a small town in East Texas. Even though I haven't lived in that town in over two decades, it shaped who I am today in many ways. For the original audience of Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians, their town had an impact on them as well. By learning a little about the geography, history, religion, and customs of Corinth, we can discover how the town shaped the Corinthian believers.


Geography

Corinth was located on "the four-and-one-half-mile (5,950-meter) Isthmus that bridged the Peloponnese and the mainland." Many ships docked on one side of the Isthmus and carried their cargo overland through Corinth to another ship waiting on the other side; this saved going around the Peloponnese (peninsula). This made Corinth a commercial center for people of many different nationalities, offering a variety of pleasures for sale.


History

Corinth had flourished as a Greek city-state but then came into conflict with Rome and was destroyed by the Roman consul Lucius Mummius in 146 B.C. For 100 years Corinth was uninhabited until Julius Caesar rebuilt the city in 44 B.C. Commentator Gordon Fee notes two reasons the city might have been rebuilt:

1. Corinth's strategic location for commerce gave it the potential for economic boom. It had water, harbors, and "control of the Isthmian games, which ranked just below the Olympian in importance."

2. Freedmen from Rome, whose status was just above that of slaves, repopulated the city of Corinth. Establishing a city in Corinth gave them an opportunity for advancement and eliminated potential trouble that might have been caused by their overabundance in Rome.


Corinth was rebuilt by ambitious people looking for a fresh start. Within fifty years, the city was thriving economically. Fee notes, "Since money attracts people ..., Corinth quickly experienced a great influx of people from both West and East, along with all the attendant gains and ills of such growth." Along with economic concerns came moral difficulties. Not everyone enjoyed instant wealth. A large population of slaves and artisans made up a significant percentage of the people of Corinth.


Religion

Expression of religion in Corinth was as varied as the city's population. It is said that at least twenty-six sacred places existed in Corinth. While Corinth had a Jewish synagogue, Jews were a minority of the population of the city. Christians also made up a small fraction of the population. They were surrounded by neighbors, friends, and coworkers who ascribed to a melting pot of religious beliefs.


Customs

Imagine this scene as if Corinth is "your town": Open markets offer all sorts of wares to citizens and visitors. The Isthmian games (second only to the Olympics) bring in crowds seeking food, shelter, and souvenirs. Philosophers gather in the town square to discuss old and new ideas about the meaning of life. Different groups congregate at sacred places to worship a garden variety of gods. Family gatherings and business meetings take place in local temples that serve as a sort of open-air banquet hall or restaurant. Dock workers, soldiers, tentmakers, merchants, religious leaders, prostitutes, slaves, community leaders, and nouveau riche (new rich) business owners can be seen throughout the community. How do you think the town impacted the Corinthian believers' newfound faith in Jesus? How have the places you've lived shaped you? Some of the influences of our towns are beneficial; others can rot our souls if we do not allow God's Word to transform us. As we dig deep into 1 Corinthians, we will need to unwrap the culture of the original audience to see God's overriding principles. This will mean remembering what Corinth was like to the recipients of Paul's letter and asking God to help us see how our own towns have influenced us.

CHAPTER 2

Week 2

GROWING UP

1 Corinthians 3–5

Leader Prep


Memory Verse

The Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God's power. (1 Corinthians 4:20)


Digging Deeper

Read Digging Deeper Week 2, "Unstuck," and note any interesting facts or insights that you would like to share with the group. (See pages 32-33 for highlights; read the full article online at AbingdonPress.com/FirstCorinthians.)


Materials Needed

First Corinthians DVD and DVD player

• Stick-on nametags and markers (optional)

• Index cards or sticky notes (optional — Scriptures and Prayer Requests)

• E-mail group members several days before the group session to remind each woman to bring a picture from her childhood to share with the group. Digital pictures on phones or tablets will work, but prints that can be passed around are preferable. (Optional Group Activity)


Session Outline

Note: Refer to the format templates on page 7 for suggested time allotments.

Welcome

Offer a word of welcome to the group. If time allows and you choose to provide food, invite the women to enjoy refreshments and fellowship. (Groups meeting for sixty minutes may want to have a time for food and fellowship before the official start time.) Be sure to watch the clock and move to the All Play icebreaker at the appropriate time.


All Play

Ask each group member to respond briefly to this question: What is a favorite meal you like to eat — especially when someone else is preparing it?

Read aloud or paraphrase:

Intending to eat healthy food but desiring unhealthy food that tastes good is a daily battle for many of us. Similarly, we long to study God's Word and pray more often than we do, but we struggle against our appetites for soul junk food. This week we've seen that Paul admonished the believers in Corinth to grow up spiritually through a progressing spiritual diet. Like them, we must evaluate how we are eating spiritually speaking. God longs for us to grow in faith so that we can be closer to Him and fulfill the mission He gave us in telling others about His love.


Digging Deeper Insights

Share insights from Digging Deeper Week 2, "Unstuck" (highlights on pages 32-33; full article at AbingdonPress.com/FirstCorinthians). You might summarize the markers of growth and then ask: Which marker stands out as more relevant in your life right now? If you choose, encourage group members to read the full article online.


Prayer

Before playing the video segment, ask God to prepare the group to receive His Word and to hear His voice.


Video

Play the video for Week 2. Invite participants to complete the Video Viewer Guide for Week 2 in the participant book as they watch (pages 76-77). (Answers are provided on page 64 of this book.)


(Continues...)

Excerpted from First Corinthians by Melissa Spoelstra. Copyright © 2016 Abingdon Press. Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press.
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.

Table of Contents

Contents

About the Author,
Introduction,
Getting Started,
Tips for Tackling Five Common Challenges,
Basic Leader Helps,
Introductory Session,
Week 1: In Christ Alone (1 Corinthians 1–2),
Digging Deeper Week 1 Highlights: My Town,
Week 2: Growing Up (1 Corinthians 3–5),
Digging Deeper Week 2 Highlights: Unstuck,
Week 3: Everybody's Doing It (1 Corinthians 6–8),
Digging Deeper Week 3 Highlights: Defining Church,
Week 4: Beyond Ourselves (1 Corinthians 9–11),
Digging Deeper Week 4 Highlights: Loving Boundaries,
Week 5: Living Love (1 Corinthians 12–14),
Digging Deeper Week 5 Highlights: A Controversial Gift,
Digging Deeper Week 5 Highlights: The Sound of Silence,
Week 6: Real Life (1 Corinthians 15–16),
Digging Deeper Week 6 Highlights: Afterlife,
Video Viewer Guide Answers,

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