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Teaching Series - Summer 2009

   

June /July 2009

 

Study material for small groups

 

Over the next six weeks on Sundays and in groups we will be looking at themes raised in Acts 2 v 42-47, through other parts of scripture, under the general title of :-

“Community Living is…..”  

 

 

                            Community living is . . . . 
                                                                   . . . being together
                                                                   . . . being obedient to scriptural teaching
                                                     
. . . growing in faith and numbers
                                                                   . . . sharing publicly in the breaking of bread  and prayer
                                                                   . . . acknowledging God’s healing and wholeness
                                                                   . . . sharing in fellowship  

 

Discovering God Together

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WEEK BEGINNING 1ST JUNE

 

Community Living is….. being together

 

1.       Ice Breaker:    Getting to know you! 

2.       Then please read Genesis 17 v 1-9 and John 15 v 1-8

A summary 

At the heart of the Christian faith lies the fact that God is community, he exists eternally as the relationship of love between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and he created human beings to share in that relationship. The effect of sin was the breakdown of relationship.  The breakdown of the relationship between human beings and God reflected in the breakdown of relationships between human beings. (Think Cain and Abel)

The story contained in the Old Testament is about how God re-creates the community for which human beings were made.   He does this by creating a people who are defined by being descendants of Abraham and keeping the law given by God to Moses.

These people are meant to show the whole world what it means to be in relationship with God. However they constantly fail to live out this calling and so in the New Testament, God himself fulfils Israel ’s vocation through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

Jesus shows perfectly what it means to relate rightly to God and other human beings. Being a Christian is about having a relationship with Jesus, being filled by the Spirit, so that we in our turn can begin to relate to God and others in the way Jesus did.  This is what is meant by the language in John 15 where Jesus is described as the vine and we as the branches.

 

In your experience  

a.    How does sin disrupt your relationship with God and other people? 

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b.   How has being a Christian helped you to grow in your relationship with God and others?

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3.       Our current vision as a church is:- 

to proclaim the Gospel as we are commanded to do in the words of the Great Commission in Matthew chapter 28 and verses 19, 20 and as we further reflect on the scriptures and especially Acts chapter 2 verses 42-47,

we aim to be

a fellowship (community) in which people can find God’s love and forgiveness

a fellowship in which every member can be encouraged to grow

a fellowship which serves the local community

a church that is a support base for mission and wider ministry

Matthew chapter 28 and verses 19, 20:

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Acts chapter 2 verses 42-47:

They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.  

Here at St Barnabas, we express our community both by meeting together Sunday by Sunday and at prayers during the week, and by meeting together in small groups.

These small groups meet together for four purposes:-

to get to know God better,

to get to know each other better, 

to share faith and 

to serve the church (both locally and more widely) and the local community.

As a group, discuss how you will practically achieve these four purposes. Please note down your ideas below and be as specific as possible.

At the end of your session, agree with your group leader what ideas arising from your discussion, he / she should take to the Group Leaders meeting on 8th June. 

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[ Back to summary ]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WEEK BEGINNING 8TH JUNE

 

Community Living is….. being obedient to scriptural teaching.

 

1.     Time to share

 

2.     Please read Titus 2 v 1-15

Background

The letters of 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus are commonly  grouped together as the Pastoral Epistles, and are thought to have been written around 65/66 AD while Paul was imprisoned in Rome.  Timothy we hear of often in Acts and it is most likely he was a first century convert to Christianity during Paul’s first missionary journey, and he was closely associated with Paul on his second and third journeys.

Who was Titus?

Titus is not referred to in Acts but we find him mentioned in Galatians chapter 2 v 1, 3 where we learn he was a Greek and 2 Corinthians chapter 8 v 16 to 24, where Titus is described by Paul as his partner and fellow worker and was obviously trusted by many in the church. See also 2 Corinthians chapter 12 v 18. 

Why was Paul writing to him?

From Paul’s words in Titus chapter 1 v 5 his task now is to supervise the churches in Crete and establish elders in each town. This was not to be an easy task because we read in chapter 1 v 5

As the reason I left you in Crete was that you might straighten out what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you  

and in chapter 1 v 16

They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.

and in chapter 2 v 12

It teaches us to say No to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age

Chapter 2 v 1-10 is therefore a response to the situation, giving instructions to Titus about what to teach different groups of  people so that their actions will be consistent with their claim to know God. (see chapter 1 v 16a)    

 

3.  Questions to ponder

There is an underlying presumption that, living according to this sound doctrine Titus has to teach, will challenge people’s thoughts and actions.

Are there parts of scripture that present group members with particular challenges for the way they live?  Does this passage in Titus or personal experience give help in how to meet these challenges?

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What are the important things of which Paul reminds Titus, in v 11-15, that will give Christians the necessary motivation to face the challenges of Christian discipleship?

(v 14 might help you here) 

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Please share what verses 13 and 14 mean to you personally.

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[ Back to summary ]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WEEK BEGINNING 15TH JUNE

 

Community living is . . . growing in faith and numbers

 

1.     Time to share

Discuss your hopes and questions about Back to Church Sunday on September 27th  PCC members discussed this matter at their meeting in May

 

2.     Please read Ephesians 4 v 1-16 

Background

Ephesus was situated on the west coast of Asia Minor (today’s Turkey ) at the mouth of the Caster River .  It was a thriving harbour city ranked as important alongside Rome , Alexandria and Syrian Antioch. Paul came in AD 54 and spent about three years in Ephesus , Acts 19 tells us more.  It was Paul’s base for his missionary work in Asia Minor .

The Letter to the Ephesians is described by some scholars as the gospel of the church. Here in this letter is a vision of a renewed human community - a church, a place of light which stands out against the sombre background of the surrounding world.

There are a number of contrasts that come out from the letter.

This renewed church is characterised by:-

·       life not death

·       by unity and reconciliation not division and alienation

·       by righteousness not corruption

·       by love and peace not hatred and strife              and

·       by unremitting conflict with evil instead of compromise.

The reason we are studying Ephesians 4 is because it is one of the major biblical passages that looks at the idea of the growth of a church.

In Acts we see the story of the numerical growth of the church as it spreads throughout the Mediterranean world, in Ephesians 4, Paul looks at the spiritual growth of the church, it’s growth into the kind of community that God desires for it.

 

3.  Questions to ponder

What does it mean for the life of St Barnabas church to “keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace?”    Ephesians 4 v 3

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What gifts of ministry has God given to this church in order to build up our corporate life?

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How might they be exercised more effectively?

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Ephesians 4 v 14-16 paint a picture of the growth of the church, as the Body of Christ.  In practical ways, how can we make this picture a reality here at St Barnabas?

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[ Back to summary ]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WEEK BEGINNING 22ND JUNE

 

Community living is . . . 

sharing publicly in the breaking of bread  and prayer 

 

1.     Time to share

Please talk about “A Summer Delight” - making this an occasion of fellowship - sharing a midday picnic together and a time of service and witness as we stay and welcome invited contacts amongst us at 3.00pm. 

 

2.     Please read 1 Corinthians 11 v 17-34   

Background:

 Paul arrived in Corinth in AD 50, he stayed there for about 18 months and very quickly established a church in the city.  See Acts 18 v 1-17.  

Corinth was a very cosmopolitan place, always full of people coming and going because it’s geographical situation meant that all the east /west trade routes passed through it. Because it was a port city where many sought pleasure and relaxation, it had the reputation for having abysmally low moral standards. Because of this Paul took the time to establish a church that would be able to withstand the temptations around it and also to equip them to be ready and able to share God’s good news - Corinth as a trading place presenting many opportunities to meet new people and be witnesses for God to them.

Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church letter address two issues:-

1.     the tendency of the Corinthians to split off into small groups who were competitive and judgemental with each other,

2.     the propensity of the Corinthians to wander away from the gospel Paul had taught, both in belief and behaviour.  

 

3.  Questions to ponder

How does regularly sharing Holy Communion together help in strengthening our life as a Christian community? (see verses 23-26)

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In Corinth, the way the Christians behaved at Holy Communion obscured it’s true meaning. Are there any ways in which we do the same here at St Barnabas? 

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Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. (verse 27)

What does this mean for us today?

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What sort of spiritual preparation should we undertake before coming to a service of Holy Communion?  (verses 28,29)

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[ Back to summary ]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WEEK BEGINNING 29TH JUNE

 

Community living is . . .  

. . . . acknowledging God’s healing and wholeness

 

1.    Time to share:

Please discuss what the terms ‘healing’ and ‘wholeness’ mean to you as Christians and how those outside of the Church fellowship may have a different understanding. Are they concepts that apply only to individuals or can they also apply to entire communities?

 2.    Please read James 5 v 13 – 20:

James, quite probably the brother of Jesus and a leader in the Jerusalem church, wrote this open letter to Jewish Christians who had been scattered throughout the Mediterranean world because of persecution and were living in hostile Gentile communities. 

James’ letter expresses his concern that these Christians were professing to follow Christ and to put their trust in God but that their actions belied this fact and did, in fact, contradict the gospel.

In an energetic style, James confronts them, and us, with the fact that it is not enough to talk the Christian faith – one must also live out that faith on a daily basis. Chapter 2 verse 14 says “what good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?”

In his letter, James provides guidance on all aspects of Christian living and, in the passage we have just read, James reminds us of the power of prayer and the link between sin and sickness (verse 16), forgiveness and salvation (verse 20).

3.    Questions to ponder:

When read in the context of our being part of the Body of Christ, what picture is James seeking to portray in verses 13 – 16?

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‘Elijah was a man just like us’ (v17). Why do you think James makes this reference to Elijah and how does it reflect on our own expectations of prayer?

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How do you think that we at St Barnabas could seek to use the power of prayer more effectively to bring the relief of God’s healing and wholeness more widely into our fellowship?

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Remind yourselves of the differences you identified between a Christian understanding of healing and wholeness and that of non-believers. How can the two be reconciled in an honest and meaningful way without either raising false hopes or   reducing God’s power to some kind of placebo effect? Has anyone had any experiences (whether good or bad) of a ‘healing ministry’ that they would be willing to share as part of this discussion?

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[ Back to summary ]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WEEK BEGINNING 6TH JULY

 

Community living is . . . . sharing in fellowship

 

 

1.     Time to share

 “A Summer Delight” - an occasion of fellowship, sharing a midday picnic

together and a time of service and witness as we stay and welcome invited contacts amongst us at 3.00pm (Please remember there is no 10.30am service on 12 July) Please pray for those who have been invited; Pre-school, Tots Club, Cradle Roll  etc.

Share with your group how you “chatter” the good news, so that we can encourage and equip each other to be effective witnesses both now and through the summer as we think about Back to Church Sunday.   

 

2.     Please read 1 John 3 verses 11-24    

Background

It is thought that 1, 2 and 3 John were the last New Testament letters to be written down. The writer was almost certainly the disciple John, responsible also for writing the gospel of John and Revelation.

It is clear from reading all of 1 John that its readers were being faced with a form of false teaching which denied the incarnation - God made flesh in Jesus.  In refuting this and other associated teaching, John also seeks to bring his readers assurance and a true knowledge of what faith implies.

His three marks of a true knowledge of God and of fellowship with God are:

  •     righteousness of life

  •     brotherly love

  •     faith in Jesus as God incarnate.

In verses 11-24 John encourages Christians to love God and each other and in a very practical and down to earth way reminds Christians that it is no good saying you love God if you hate other people.  (verses 11-15) 

 

3.  Questions to ponder

What examples would you give if asked, by someone outside the faith, to show that those of us who are Christians at St Barnabas love each other? (verse 14)

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How does the teaching in verses 17 and 18 apply to us here at St Barnabas?

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Do we ‘receive from him anything we ask’? (verse 22) If not, why not?

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Why do you think abiding in Christ is linked to keeping God’s commandments? (verse 24)  

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