Relationships are of primary importance to God. We see this by the way God himself works in intimate, interdependent relationships within the Trinity. We are created in the image of God and are designed to operate in a similar level of relationship to each other. Christianity is much more than a personal, individual response to God. The fullest and most biblical expression of our faith is experienced through being part of a community of believers.
Jesus gave us this model to follow of sharing lives, serving each other, building each other up, discipling each other and loving each other. In Acts 2:42-47 we see that the disciples knew what to do when Jesus was no longer with them, they imitated how Jesus had lived with them - a shared lifestyle of loving God and loving each other. It is often the quality of our relationships that says most about who God is and what he is like.
The distinctions in relationships between Christians is one of the most vivid demonstrations of Jesus in the student environment. As you go through this material, please remember to have wisdom over female/male relationships. We want to be encouraging loving, trusting and open friendships, but there do need to be appropriate guidelines in the group. Smaller group sharing is probably better done in single sexes (i.e. women in one group and men in another) and praying should always be men for men and women for women, or mixed, but not a man for a woman or vice versa.
As a group, stand in a circle, shoulder to shoulder, looking inwards, and all put your hands in the middle. Have everybody grab a hand in each hand, but make sure that nobody is holding the two hands of the same person.
From this position, it will be possible, without letting go of anyone’s hand, by stepping over legs and under arms, to get back into a circle where everyone is holding hands with the people next to them. See how long it takes you!
Go round the group asking everyone to share something that they have learnt about God this week or something that God has spoken to them about. Praise and worship God for these things.
Break the group into two and ask one half to look through Romans 12 and the other half to look through chapter 14. Ask them to write down all the commands you can find that involve others, then feedback to the group.
What do we learn from this about the values that we need in order to build relationships both in our group today and in our lives in the future?
Our Christian life should not be based on meetings but on relationships. Together discuss: how does the small group aid the building of relationships and the development of community?
Some ideas if you are getting stuck:
- Chance to spend time with a small group of people and really get to know them
- Share lives, easier to be open, honest and vulnerable
- Provides support and care through hard times
- Develop in gifting and confidence - safe environment to step out and do things for the first time e.g. Ice-breaker, worship, pray and prophecy
- Hearing each others’ contributions and perspectives
- Accountable in following Jesus 7 days a week
What are your strengths/weaknesses in building good relationships?
Divide the group into single-sex groups and ask each person to share. Encourage openness and honesty, asking who has been hurt in the past through relationships. This could be a very important time of building friendships in the group through people being honest and allowing others to see their weaknesses.
Lead from this into praying for one another in your groups. Pray for each person in the group for whatever they have shared. Encourage people not to be embarrassed, especially as there will be two lots of praying going on in the same room, but be bold as you pray for one another, asking the Holy Spirit to be working in each other’s lives. Allow people to feel free as to how they pray, whether that is using prophetic words or reading out a scripture, laying on of hands or not.
Remember not to let this get squeezed out, even if there is lots of praying happening!
Go round the group and ask each person to identify two friends who they particularly want to see become Christians, saying a little bit about each person. Explain that these people will be the focus of our prayers in the coming weeks.