Here is a small-group study based on Luke 17-11:19 that you can use if you find yourself between studies, waiting on books to deliver, or … whatever. This is a sample of the transformation model and discovery Bible study that you’ll encounter in many Serendipity House or LifeWay Small Group Bible studies. I’ve both been in a group that used this text with these questions as well as led a group conversation rooted in this same material. It’s a great entree into the heart of spiritual transformation and formation:

11 While traveling to Jerusalem, He passed between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As He entered a village, 10 men with serious skin diseases met Him. They stood at a distance 13 and raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14 When He saw them, He told them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And while they were going, they were healed. 15 But one of them, seeing that he was healed, returned and, with a loud voice, gave glory to God. 16 He fell facedown at His feet, thanking Him. And he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus said, “Were not 10 cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Didn’t any return to give glory to God except this foreigner?” 19 And He told him, “Get up and go on your way. Your faith has made you well.” Luke 17:11-19 HCSB

1. What is our modern day leprosy? Point out the ways these groups and individuals are isolated, ostracized, and walled off by mainstream culture. Or maybe you’ll decide that some are actually embraced by the mainstream thus making the need for healing and salvation more difficult for them to acknowledge.
2. How does Luke describe the level of communication with Jesus (v.13)? There is both the acknowledgment of a need only Jesus can meet as well as the sense of desperation. Although it may appear to be more obvious with certain demographics, we’re all desperate for the sort of transformation only Jesus can offer.
3. Why do you think only one returned to thank Jesus? What’s up with the other nine? A great discussion question. Don’t let the group settle into simple “black and white” or “right and wrong” positions. This scenario is more about “good” and “greater good.”
4. What was the added benefit of the one that did return? What do you think is the difference between “well” and “healed”?
5. Read vv. 15-16. What steps to wellness and fullness emerge through an examination of this passage? I allowed a great deal of latitude here, but for the most part we landed at (1) acknowledgment (2) repentance (3) Giving glory (demonstration) (4) Worship (inner transformation)

Consider wrapping up with an application question that asks members you consider the “So what?” aspect of your conclusions. It’s not a difficult assignment to identify those most the desperate of our culture. But for others that have learned how to manage their greatest needs else medicate these needs through various methods—not as easy. For more on leading a small-group Bible study or small-group principles and practices download the free Small Group Life Ministry Manual by clicking here.

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Breaking the Ice:

If an angel told you (or your parents) that you were going to have a child this year, how would you react?

Journeying into His Story:

  1. What do you learn about Jesus Christ from the angel’s announcement (vv. 30 – 33)?
  2. How does Gabriel’s word to Mary compare with his word to Zechariah (1:13 – 17)?
  3. How do you suppose Mary felt about the angel’s message foretelling her supernatural pregnancy? What do you think was the hardest thing for Mary to comprehend?

Seeing Your Story in His Story:

  1. When were you recently fearful but believing? How did God meet you?
  2. In what area of your life do you need to believe that nothing is impossible with God? What keeps you from believing this?

This Bible study is from the Serendipity Bible for Groups. In case you haven’t heard of the Serendipity Bible for Groups you’ll want to know that The Serendipity Bible for groups has a Bible study like the one above for every passage of Scripture in the Bible.

I spilled a cup of coffee this morning. Not just a few drops mind you, but the entire cup…in my car. This now infamous cup of coffee that I had just filled to the brim landed upside down in the passenger seat. On top of my Bible Study, the book I was reading, Manhood for Amateurs, the CD packet for Behold the Lamb of God I was listening to, a copy of the Small Group Life Ministry Manual, not to mention all over the seat. It was at the worst possible time. Kids were all packed in the car ready for school….we were even on time. And then disaster struck. I spent the next 10 minutes cleaning as best as I could, wiping down the books, CDs, and soaking up the liquid that my car seat had drank up so quickly. Can you guess what my car smells like now? Dusty, cold coffee! Yuck! So in that moment, like it or not, I was modeling for my children what to do when things go wrong. Fortunately no expletives spilled out of my mouth at the moment of impact. We even got to talk about it on the way to school.  Like any good small group leader I ask them questions. “So what do you guys do when something like that happens?” And we got to talk about how we are wired, what responses are good, what are bad, and how does God prepare us and speak into these moments.

It got me thinking about small group leaders and some of the small groups I’ve led. I’m dashing around like crazy trying to get everything ready for group. Vacuuming the living room, getting the coffee going, cookies in the oven, wiping down the counter, and it seems like a million other things at one time….and hoping that nobody shows up early! Without fail it seems something goes wrong, sometimes terribly wrong. I’m trying to empty the vacuum canister and it spills all over where I just vacuumed. I forgot to pick up some cream for the coffee and EVERYONE uses cream. There aren’t enough clean cups for everyone. Someone in the group knocks over their drink. Am I the ONLY one who has experienced this stuff??? So what do I do when this happens? What do you do when things don’t go right in getting ready for group, or even during group? If you find yourself in that position, here’s a few ideas on how to respond:

  • Take a deep breath – This may sound overly simple, but this exercise will help regulate your heartbeat, settle your anxiety and center your emotions.
  • Expect groups to be messy – Just as in life, preparing for group time or even during group time, things can get messy. Recognize that this is a natural part of group life and you are not the only person this happens to. You can also have a relatively high likelihood something like this will happen again, so don’t be surprised when it does.
  • Trust in the Holy Spirit – Make sure you don’t resign to the fear that your group meeting will not be transformational just because things aren’t going seamlessly. Trust that the Holy Spirit is far more powerful than the situation at hand and doesn’t depend on you or me to create the perfect environment to transform lives. In fact, if you look at your own life, it’s often in the messiest of situations where God worked most powerfully to transform you. Do you think group life is so different?
  • Allow yourself to be less than perfect – If you dropped the ball in some way and are less than prepared for your group, it’s important to forgive yourself. Things won’t improve by you constantly admonishing yourself, and it will be a barrier for the group settling into study God’s Word. The same goes for any group member who may have caused a disruption. You would do well to make sure that person (and the entire group) knows that mistakes are OK, this is a safe place to be human. Remember, it’s not up to you to change people’s lives (see bullet point above).
  • Take necessary action and move on – Do what you can in a matter of 5 minutes or less to improve the situation and then move on with the group experience.  If you have a spill or a mess, spot clean and save the deep cleaning for after the meeting. If you’ve forgotten something for the group meeting, call a neighbor to see if you can borrow what you need or call a group member and ask if they could stop by to pick up what you need on their way to the group meeting, if time allows.  The biggest thing is don’t sweat the small things. The reason people are in your group is because they want to do life together with you and allow God to transform their lives through the group experience.  And as good as they may be, people don’t come for your chocolate chip cookies, or your Pumpkin Spice creamer.

These are all simple ideas, but sometime it’s important to remember what’s important. If you needed it, I hope this gives you permission to forgive yourself on those rare meetings when things just seem to go wrong. For more ideas on getting ready for a small group meeting, Randall Neighbor has some great tips for hosting a small group in your home, click here to read.

Because we can learn from others, I’m offering a FREE Canvas DVD Kit by Pete Wilson and 9 Experience Guides ($113 value) for the person who comments with the best story of a small group meeting that went wrong and what you did. Leave your comment by December 13, 2009, and I’ll announce the winner the week of the 14th.

Your small group members are about to get back in the tempo of normal life. School is about to begin again. They may need to be reminded that times of rest are important. Below you’ll find a Bible study from the Serendipity Bible for Groups you may want to use soon.

 

 

 

Ice-Breaker: What is your favorite way to spend a Sunday afternoon?

 Read Hebrews 4: 1 – 12

 Bible Discussion: 1. What do you remember about the origin of the Sabbath? 2. What is the “rest” promised by God: Sunday off? The Pomised Land? How do verses 3 – 10 support your answer? 3. Did God withdraw his offer to the original people who were given the promise? What happened? 4. What is the warning to those who are reading this letter? What does it mean that God’s word is “living”? Active? That it penetrates?

 Going Deeper: 1. How would you describe your spiritual diet right now: Healthy?  Balanced? Pretty good? Sporadic? Could be better? Terrible?  2. What have you found helpful in keeping a regular devotional life?

 In case you haven’t heard of the Serendipity Bible for Groups… The Serendipity Bible for groups has a Bible study like the one above for every passage of Scripture in the Bible.

The celebration of Jesus’ birth is almost here. Your small group may have decided to take a break beginning a few weeks from now or you may be spending Christmas day together. If you’re like me, you may want to take a one week break from the study your group is involved in so that you can focus on some part of the birth of Jesus. Also… If you’re like me you don’t want to purchase an entire study for just one small group experience. Below you’ll find questions for a small group experience taken from the Serendipity Bible for Groups produced by Lyman Coleman.  I think you’ll find it will create healthy, life tranforming conversation.

Ice-Breaker: When does your Christmas tree go up? Who trims it? How? What other traditions do you observe from your childhood? 

Read Luke 2:8 – 20 

Bible Discussion: 1. Of all the people the angels could have visited, why do you suppose God sent them to the shepherds? How does that relate to Mary’s song (Luke 1: 46 – 55)? 2. What three titles are given to Jesus in verse 11? What is significant about them? 3. What do you treasure the most about Jesus?

 Going Deeper: 1. God appeared to Zechariah, Mary, and the shepherds when they were just being themselves. What does that imply about what it means to be “spiritual”? How has God spoken to you in the ordinary flow of life? 2. What precious event has God done that you “treasure in your heart”?

 In case you haven’t heard of the Serendipity Bible for Groups… The Serendipity Bible for groups has a Bible study like the one above for every passage of Scripture in the Bible.

With all due respect to The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, Seabiscuit was actually the best movie of 2003. And, given that Return of the King represented only a third of the TLOTR trilogy, Seabiscuit was also the best small-group movie of that year. (Our criteria in making this determination is top-secret, proprietary, very complicated, and is apparently different from every other system we’ve found.)

Accordingly, Seabiscuit starring Tobey Maguire, Jeff Bridges, and Chris Cooper, makes for great small-group discussion. Keeping in mind that it is rated PG-13, we suggest making the next meeting a Movie Night! Tradition suggests a dinner comprised of spiced mustard-glazed ham, green beans with lemon, corn pudding, and derby pie—very common items on the first Saturday in May in a certain Bluegrass State.

Take a moment to discuss these questions with the group before the movie:

How do you define the term “redemptive community”? How is “redemptive community” different from a normal community?

Describe a time when you believe God worked through someone else to redeem an event, a particular mess, or something else in your life.

What do you think Isaiah 61:1-2 implies we all need?

Here are a few questions for discussion after Seabiscuit with relevant Scripture included.

How do the characters’ similarities in this movie mirror what we oftentimes see today in the lives of the people around us?

Wounds can be handled in many ways. Read Jeremiah 6:14 and talk about what this verse says about the way we sometimes handle the wounds of others. What do you think is being criticized in this verse?

Read Proverbs 20:5. How do you think asking clarifying questions and seeking to be discerning in one another’s lives apply to healing? How is it demonstrated in Seabiscuit?

Read 1 Peter 4:8. From the movie, can you remember scenes where empathy (deep love) played a critical role in each of these character’s redemptive journey? How do you think these scenes help us understand 1 Peter 4:8?

When we are moved by a story it is because it is either borrowing from the larger story of life, from our own story, or both. Which is it for you? What part of this movie made you stop and think? Why do you think this is the case?