The Gospel is a story. It is the story that we read about in the Bible as we see how God has been unfolding his plans through his people throughout history and it is the story that we experience ourselves as we see God working in our own lives. It is this story that we want to understand and encounter as we look at its relevance to those around us.
The aim of this small group outline is to help people identify the process that is going on. Rather than seeing people’s lives as a pre-Christian time and a post-conversion time, life is a journey. Many of our friends are on a journey towards God. Knowing how the process works is helpful as we pray and witness.
Who did God use to bring you to the point where you knew you needed Jesus? What had been going on in the previous weeks/months? Had you been changing or did your conversion come like a bolt out of the blue?
We have all experienced God working in our lives and are aware of how different we would be if we were not Christians. Take time to let everybody say what God has changed in them, whether that be character issues, relationships, lifestyles and so on, and then thank God for these things. Depending on what is said and how open people are, look out for opportunities to pray for individuals. As always, watch out for jargon and don’t let people get away with trite answers!
Use music to create an atmosphere where people can reflect and then pray out between songs, verses or even over the top of the music. Allow other people’s stories to encourage each member.
Remember that ‘Jesus at the centre’ is what we’re aiming for so when there is the opportunity to invite Jesus in – do so. Affirm people's’ confessions of need. Affirm that God is at work. Ask God to continue His work.
What are the basic components of the Gospel, according to Paul? Go through each verse, checking that we understand what each part really means. At the end ask each person to say in two sentences what Christ did for us.
Let’s look now at three very different situations in the Bible in which God’s story is explained. Divide the group into 3 smaller groups and give each group a scripture:
Give time for each group to discuss their passage, looking at the context and how the explanation changes accordingly. What are the key elements and why are they key? Feedback to the group.
Now, let’s consider some situations today in which, either now or in the future, we may find ourselves story-telling. Break down into pairs. Look at a situation and discuss how what you say might change accordingly:
- to a fellow student
- to a lone parent
- to a business person
- to someone from the slums of Sao Paulo
What situations do you each find yourselves in when there is an opportunity for you to tell the story (again remembering that the Gospel is more than words)? Let everybody talk about their opportunities, and then pray for one another that we may have real effectiveness in these situations. You could do this by going around the room, breaking into pairs or splitting the group in half depending on how you feel the time could be best used.