REMINDER: UPCOMING SMALL GROUP SEMESTER BREAK
There is a Small Groups Semester Break starting next week. If you haven’t already…
Group Leaders, be sure to communicate your plans for leading in the Winter/Spring Semester.
Group Members, be sure to communicate your plans for participation in the Winter/Spring Semester.
READ-ALOUD SMALL GROUP TIP
A Small Group is only as good as its members. To help you and everyone in the group be great Small Group Members there will be a tip to read aloud & discuss briefly as a group.
TIP: GO HOME ON TIME.
As a group leader, it’s always great to see the group engaged in discussions before and after the official meeting time. A lot of the time, the life-changing conversations happen outside of the group meeting. However, there has to be respect for the host’s personal time. The conversation may need to continue at a local coffee shop so the host family can go to bed.
-How well has your group done at being mindful of the host’s schedule and responsibilities when discussions are extending beyond the official meeting time?
Mike mentioned he came from a Santa Claus house, believing in the Big Guy in the red suit. What was your family’s relationship to Santa Claus growing up?
SPECIAL NOTE: Read Mark 9 together as a group. This can be all at once or the group can read the relevant sections of the chapter based on the story or section being discussed.
1. Mike started off by saying, “…as life has come at me, storms and problems and unmet expectations, I have a harder time believing that the faith I have could move mountains, and that nothing is impossible for God if I just have faith.”
-Do you resonate with this sentiment? Why? Why not?
-What contributes to this change in us & others?
2. Group Exercise. Have each person in the group look up Hebrews 11:1 in a different translation. You can use BibleGateway.com for this.
-How do the various translations compare? What is the same/different?
-How do the variations in translation help to clarify or conceal the meaning?
-How does it complicate the meaning?
-How does this verse connect to Mike’s expressed desire (and often our own) that he wants to “see, not just believe.”
3. Mark 9:2-13 talks about Jesus’ Transfiguration. This event served as a point of spiritual clarity for Peter, James, and John. Share about a time when you experienced a moment or time of spiritual clarity that has had an impact on your faith journey.
4. In Mark 9:14-29 Jesus heals a boy with an evil spirit.
-What do you think Jesus meant by, saying “If you can?” to the father?
-How does this relate to faith and belief?
-Share about a time when you struggled to believe or faced doubt.
-How did you navigate that time?
5. Mark records the father saying, “I do believe; help my unbelief.”
-What do you think the father meant?
-How can vulnerability enhance our relationship with Jesus?
-How does the father's honesty about his limited faith resonate with your own experiences?
6. Jesus’ disciples wondered why they couldn’t cast the evil spirit out. Jesus replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.”
-What do you think of Jesus’ response? Discuss.
-Why would faith & prayer (or lack thereof) be responsible for the success/failure of an attempt at healing?
-When a healing does not come…should we put the blame on the person(s) praying & trusting God? Why? Why not?
-How do faith & prayer still matter even when healing does not come?
7. Mike pointed us to Jesus’ patience and kindness with doubters.
-How does Jesus respond to your doubts and struggles?
-How can a deeper understanding of Jesus' love and patience impact our interactions with those who have doubts & struggles?
8. Mike encouraged us to stay close to Jesus, especially in challenging times.
-What spiritual practices have helped you stay close to Jesus?
-Are there times when these spiritual practices have been more/less meaningful or helpful for you?
9. Mark 9:30-32 records Jesus predicting his death & resurrection.
-Why do you think Jesus repeatedly emphasized his impending death and resurrection to his disciples?
-Why do you think the disciples were afraid to ask Jesus about his prediction of betrayal and death?
-How might the disciples' lack of understanding about Jesus' prediction relate to our own struggles with God's plans for our lives?
-In what ways can understanding the suffering of Jesus deepen our own faith when we suffer?
10. Mark 9:33-37 records Jesus’ teaching on greatness in the Kingdom of God.
-How do you understand greatness?
-How is your understanding of greatness challenged by Jesus’ teaching?
-What qualities do you see in children that demonstrate greatness?
-How can a true understanding of Kingdom Greatness impact our interactions with others in our daily lives?
11. Thought Experiment. Think about all the things you’ll do in the next 24 hours, both important & mundane.
-How would those 24 hours be different if you made Mark 9:35 your mission?
12. Jesus told his disciples, “Whoever is not against us is for us.”
-What do you think about this response? Discuss.
-How can we balance a sense of unity within the body of Christ while being open to and accepting of diverse expressions of faith?
-How can we avoid a narrow view of "us versus them" in our Christian communities?
-Share examples of times when you've experienced unity with others despite differences.
13. Jesus warned in very strong terms against causing a little one to stumble.
-How do you interpret Jesus' words?
-What point do you think Jesus is trying to make by using hyperbole in describing the seriousness of causing a little one to stumble?
-Has there been an area in your life that you have taken radical steps to remove stumbling blocks?
Dear God. Please strengthen our faith to believe in your power and the humility to admit our doubts. Let us also cry out “I believe; help my unbelief!” Help us overcome our uncertainties and strengthen our trust in you. Lord, may we approach you with the vulnerability of the desperate father, laying before you our deepest fears, doubts, and concerns. In moments of trial, teach us to rely on the power of prayer, understanding that certain challenges are conquered through a deep, trusting relationship with you. Amen.