Growing in Jesus, Participant's Guide: 6 Small Group Sessions on Discipleship

Growing in Jesus, Participant's Guide: 6 Small Group Sessions on Discipleship

by Doug Fields, Brett Eastman

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Overview

Growing in Jesus, Participant's Guide: 6 Small Group Sessions on Discipleship by Doug Fields, Brett Eastman

A Life Together Resource—Living with Purpose in Community
Students understand that they were created for a reason—they know God had something in mind when he knit them together. The challenge is helping your students unlock that knowledge and start living the life they were designed for.
Experiencing Christ Together Student Edition (modeled after Experiencing Christ Together adult curriculum) brings your students face to face with Jesus, the one who holds the key to living for
God. By studying Jesus’ words and life, these small group studies will take your students to the heart of what it means to live purposefully for God.
Included in the Experiencing Christ Together Student Edition curriculum are these studies:
• Beginning in Jesus
• Connecting in Jesus
• Growing in Jesus
• Serving Like Jesus
• Sharing Christ Jesus
• Surrendering to Jesus
Also included are three DVDs, each of which contains biblical teaching that covers twelve individual sessions. Used in conjunction with the Experiencing Christ Together Student Edition books, these teaching lessons support and advance the work your students will be doing in their small groups.
Taken together, the Experiencing Christ Together Student Edition curriculum represent thirty-six individual sessions (almost a year’s worth of small-group studies) and over twelve hours of teaching all aimed at helping your students learn to follow God’s purpose for their lives. each piece is available separately.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780310266464
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication date: 01/01/2006
Series: Experiencing Christ Together Student EditionSeries Series
Edition description: Student
Pages: 144
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.38(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Doug Fields has been a leader in youth ministry for over 30 years. In addition to being a youth pastor at two churches for 11 and 20 years, Doug is the founder of Simply Youth Ministry, the co-founder of Downloadyouthministry.com, the author of more than 50 books, and is currently working with Youth Specialties & Azusa Pacific University (HomeWord’s Center for Youth/Family). More information about Doug is available at www.dougfields.com.

Brett Eastman has championed small groups and leadership development at both Saddleback and Willow Creek Community Church over the past decade. He is president and founder of LifeTogether, and one of the authors of the Silver Medallion winner Doing LifeTogether, the adult curriculum published by Zondervan.

Read an Excerpt

Growing in Jesus, Participant's Guide

6 Small Group Sessions on Discipleship
By Doug Fields Brett Eastman

Zondervan

Copyright © 2006 Doug Fields and Brett Eastman
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-310-26646-7


Chapter One

SESSION 1 THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP

LEADERS, READ PAGE 84.

Schoolwork is demanding enough, but when you throw in sports, friends, and a job, life becomes way too crowded. Kyle and Dave could have easily put their spiritual lives aside with all that was going on in their busy lives, but they were committed to their small group and to helping each other grow to be more like Jesus.

For the last year the only time they could meet to talk about being followers of Jesus was early in the morning before school. They met in their school's parking lot once a week at 5:30 a.m. to talk and pray. It wasn't easy. Kyle and Dave could think of a thousand reasons to stay in their beds like everybody else, but they never did-after each get-together, they were grateful they'd made the time. Looking back at the past year, Kyle and Dave are both convinced that they are more faith-filled and confident as followers of Jesus because they made their spiritual partnership a high priority.

Pursuing spiritual growth in your own life is always cost-leadersly. It's important to understand the cost-as well as the value of what you get in return-when you follow Jesus. In this session we will look at the value of what Jesus offers you, and then you'll have to decide how much you think it's worth.

FELLOWSHIP: CONNECTING YOUR HEART TO OTHERS'

Goal: To share about your life and listen attentively to others, caring about what they share

Did you know that God loves you just the way you are, and that your spiritual growth won't earn you any more of his love? That's a wild truth! At the same time, God loves you too much to allow you to stay where you are today. He wants you to grow and change. God has a vision for who you can become when you follow Jesus' teachings and live your life filled and powered by God's Spirit.

1. Everyone is a bundle of strengths and weaknesses. What's one thing you're pretty good at? Don't be embarrassed -you are good at some things! 2. What are the three most valuable possessions in your life?

DISCIPLESHIP: GROWING TO BE LIKE JESUS

Goal: To explore God's Word, gain biblical knowledge, and make personal applications

Christians are called to become disciples of Jesus-to follow his ways with their entire lives. While it's easy to read that sentence or hear someone call you a follower of Jesus, it's very difficult to figure out what that really means in your everyday life. I often hear Christians say, "I'm into discipleship" or "I want to disciple others." Great! But what does discipleship look like? This study will explore what Jesus has to say about it.

Read Matthew 13:44-46. (If you don't have a Bible, the passage is on page 89.)

1. After reading these two parables, what are your first impressions? 2. If the treasure and the pearl are symbols for salvation, then why did the people in both parables have to sell everything to buy them? Isn't salvation free? 3. In the first parable, the man sold everything in joy. How could he give up everything and still have joy? 4. Do these parables emphasize the power of God changing a life, or do they emphasize our responsibility as Christians? Explain your answer. (If you get stuck, see note on page 27, "Bought.") 5. Based on these parables, is it possible to be a Christian without giving up everything? 6. When you recognize the value of having a relationship with God, how should you respond? 7. How is the message of these parables personal for you this week? Be specific!

Read Luke 9:23-27. (If you don't have a Bible, the passage is on page 89.)

8. According to this passage, what does it mean to "deny" yourself? (Look for specific answers from the text.) 9. If all Christians are supposed to deny themselves and follow the same thing (Jesus), does that mean we all become the same person, with the same personality, desires, dreams, and so on? Explain your answer. 10. Choose one of the following to answer: What does it mean to ... take up the cross daily? follow Jesus? lose your life? 11. Take a moment to get personal: In what specific ways have you denied yourself or lost your life for Jesus? Or are you holding on to something too tightly? Explain. 12. Is there anything in your life that's keeping you from putting Jesus first? What is it?

MINISTRY: SERVING OTHERS IN LOVE

Goal: To recognize and take advantage of opportunities to serve others

The cost of being Jesus' disciple is high, but Jesus takes the high cost and shows us the benefits (e.g., treasure, pearl). He knows we could never stay on the path toward him unless we knew we'd benefit in some way.

1. How can others in your group help you stay passionate about following Jesus? What kind of help do you need to remain faithful to God and his ways? 2. Is it a ministry opportunity when you help someone remain faithful to Jesus? Explain your answer.

EVANGELISM: SHARING YOUR STORY AND GOD'S STORY

Goal: To consider how the truths from this session might be applied to your relationships with unbelievers

When I was a kid I met a professional baseball player at an elementary school assembly. I asked him a bunch of questions about his life, and as he spoke, he made his life appear attractive-and baseball became more attractive to me as well. I decided I wanted to be a baseball player as well.

I often wonder if non-Christians are attracted to Jesus as a result of my life, faith, and how I speak about my role as a follower of Jesus. What about you?

1. Is there anything attractive about being a disciple of Jesus? If so, what are those things and why are they attractive to you? 2. What might a non-Christian find attractive about being friends with a really committed follower of Jesus?

WORSHIP: SURRENDERING YOUR LIFE TO HONOR GOD

Goal: To focus on God's presence

Spiritual growth can become exciting when you're growing with other friends. As you close this session, imagine the potential highlights of doing life together with friends while following Jesus.

1. What are some potential highlights of doing life together as a group? 2. What is one benefit to you becoming more like Jesus? 3. End this time in prayer. Begin by thanking God for your group and then ask God for strength to pursue being more like him.

AT HOME THIS WEEK

One of the consistent values of our LIFETOGETHER books is that we want you to have options for growing spiritually on your own during the week. To help with this "on your own" value, we'll give you five options. If you do these, you'll have more to contribute when you return to your small group, and you'll begin to develop spiritual habits that can last your entire life. Here are the five you'll see after every section. (You might try to do one per day on the days after your small group meets.)

Option 1: A Weekly Reflection

After each session you'll find a quick, one-page self-evaluation that reflects the five areas of your spiritual life found in this book (fellowship, discipleship, ministry, evangelism, and worship). After each evaluation, you decide if there's anything you'll do differently with your life. This page is all for you. It's not intended as a report card that you turn into your small group leader. The first evaluation begins on page 28.

Option 2: Daily Bible Readings

On pages 111-112 you'll find a list of Bible passages that will help you read through an entire section of the Bible in 30 days. If you choose this option, try to read one of the assigned passages each day. Highlight key verses in your Bible, reflect on them, journal about them, or write down any questions you have from your reading. We want to encourage you to take time to read God's love letter-the Bible. You'll find helpful tips in "How to Study the Bible on Your Own" (pages 113-115).

Option 3: Memory Verses

Memorizing Bible verses is an important habit to develop as you learn to grow spiritually on your own. "Memory Verses" (pages 116-117) contains six verses for you to memorize-one per session. Memorizing verses (and making them stick for more than a few minutes) isn't easy, but the benefits are undeniable. You'll have God's Word with you wherever you go.


"I HAVE HIDDEN YOUR WORD IN MY HEART THAT I MIGHT NOT SIN AGAINST YOU." (PSALM 119:11)

Option 4: Journaling

You'll find blank pages for journaling beginning on page 121. At the end of each session, you'll find questions to get your thoughts going-but you aren't limited to answering the questions listed. Use these pages to reflect, write a letter to God, note what you're learning, compose prayer, ask questions, draw pictures, record your thoughts, or take notes if your small group is using the EXPERIENCING CHRIST TOGETHER DVD teachings. For some suggestions about journaling, turn to "Journaling: Snapshots of Your Heart" on pages 118-120.

For this session, choose one or more questions to kickstart your journaling.

I'm excited to be in a group because ... If someone asked me to describe Jesus, I would say ... Jesus would want me to know ...

Option 5: Wrap It Up

Write out your answers to any questions that you didn't answer during your small group time.

LEARN A LITTLE MORE

Goal: To help you better understand the Scripture passage you studied in this session by highlighting key words and other important information.

Parables

The word parable comes from two Greek words meaning, "to throw alongside." Parables are simple word pictures, stories, or illustrations "thrown alongside" a spiritual truth. Parables make both the truth and the story difficult to forget. As one of Jesus' favorite teaching methods, parables forced his listeners to move from passive listening to active thinking. When reading a parable (and you'll come across more than 40 in the Gospels), it's important to avoid two pitfalls: 1) ignoring important details, and 2) trying to make every detail mean something.

Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 13:44)

This describes a kingdom in which God's way will infuse everything (Matthew 6:10). It will be a kingdom of goodness, joy, and beauty. God withdrew our planet from his kingdom when we humans (whom God had put in charge) rebelled against God's ways. The Bible tells us that God wants to bring us back into his kingdom.

God created the nation of Israel (the Jewish people) as a gathering place of his kingdom, to attract the rest of humanity to join it. As the Old Testament teaches, Israel repeatedly disobeyed God's ways and commands. As a result, God allowed different empires to oppress Israel. By the time of Jesus, the Roman Empire was in charge of Israel. Many Jews were desperate for a leader who would throw out the Romans. The Bible contains many prophesies about a leader called the Messiah (translated as "anointed one"; the Greek word for messiah is Christ). Jewish history records several self-proclaimed messiahs, but none brought the kind of change the Jews were looking for.

Jesus was the prophesied Messiah, and God's kingdom was the central message of his teaching. But Jesus had no intention of being a military Messiah to destroy the Romans and establish a political kingdom. Instead he invited everyone to stop pursuing their own agendas and rejoin God's kingdom. God's kingdom was (and is) immediately available to anyone follows Jesus-but only in part. Jesus will ultimately bring his kingdom in its fullness when he returns.

Bought (Matthew 13:44)

In the parable, the act of buying the field illustrates our responsibility to accept God's free gift of salvation. Jesus knows we don't buy our way into God's kingdom-the kingdom is God's gift to us, which we receive by faith (Romans 4:1-5, Ephesians 2:8-9). Buying the field is Jesus' way of pointing to the cost of cooperating with God and doing things his way rather than our own.

Take up his cross daily (Luke 9:23)

Roman law declared that prisoners sentenced to die on the cross no longer had any rights as citizens; the state owned them completely. In a similar way, we give up all rights when we come to Jesus as disciples. We now belong to God, who has bought us with Jesus' blood (Romans 6:16-18, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). We give God the right to decide which of our needs and desires he will meet, and when and how he will meet them. This isn't easy! Abandoning our selfish desires in order to cling to God's design is a constant battle.

I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God (Luke 9:27)

"It is unlikely that Jesus equated seeing the kingdom of God with experiencing the end of the world. More probably he meant that some of his followers would not die until after they had seen the coming of God's kingdom in his own mission or in the life of the church. The transfiguration was possibly seen as one fulfillment of the saying."

FOR DEEPER STUDY ON YOUR OWN

1. Check out Luke 14:25-35 for another radical teaching by Jesus about discipleship. 2. Read Romans 8:5-6, 14:17. How much is a kingdom of life, peace, righteousness, and joy worth to you? 3. Read these three passages from Luke 9: verses 18-20, 21-22, and 23-27. Can you see any connection between them? If so, what is it?

A WEEKLY REFLECTION

Take a minute to reflect on how well you've been doing in the following five areas of your spiritual life this week-a 10 means you did an amazing job. This reflection can serve as a spiritual gauge to help you consider some very important areas. This is for your personal evaluation and growth; it's NOT a test-no one else needs to see it.

FELLOWSHIP: CONNECTING YOUR HEART TO OTHERS'

How well did I connect with other Christians?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

DISCIPLESHIP: GROWING TO BE LIKE JESUS

How well did I take steps to grow spiritually and deepen my faith on my own?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

MINISTRY: SERVING OTHERS IN LOVE

How well did I recognize opportunities to serve others and follow through?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

EVANGELISM: SHARING YOUR STORY AND GOD'S STORY

How well did I engage in spiritual conversations with non-Christians?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

WORSHIP: SURRENDERING YOUR LIFE TO HONOR GOD

How well did I focus on God's presence and honor him with my life? Was my relationship with God a primary focus?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

When you finish, celebrate the areas where you feel good and consider how you can use those strengths to help others in their journey to be more like Jesus. You might also want to take time to identify some potential areas for growth.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Growing in Jesus, Participant's Guide by Doug Fields Brett Eastman Copyright © 2006 by Doug Fields and Brett Eastman. Excerpted by permission.
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

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction: Read Me First! 7
Small Group Covenant 17
Session 1 The Cost of Discipleship 19
Session 2 In the Heat of the Desert 31
Session 3 Pressing the Pause Button 43
Session 4 Persistent Prayer 53
Session 5 Building on a Solid Foundation 63
Session 6 Where Is Your Treasure? 73
Appendix 83

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