Here is a small groups study I have just written for my own church.
Hope it can be a blessing for your setting also.
Recently I was on a weekend away with my girlfriends, none of these ladies are following Jesus. My prayer for that weekend was that God would use me to not only bring great friendship to the girls but to also make an impact for eternity. My prayer was that these ladies would understand more about God’s love for them some how that weekend. We were spending two days together, one night. That night we all went out for dinner, had a great time but somehow I felt I had missed the boat so to speak. There was no conversation about Christianity, I wondered if I had missed any opportunities to witness about Jesus because I got too carried away having a good time. I went to bed that night very disappointed. What followed was a startling dream from the Lord.
1. The Dream
That night I had a dream about the reality of eternity. A dream that revealed to me that indeed heaven exists and is a real place that people go to. I already knew this but for some reason the Lord wanted to burn this into my mind again. Needless to say, I woke up and was very passionate about somehow sharing this wonderful news with my girlfriends. Last night at dinner had passed and I was now refocused to somehow share Jesus with my friends.
1. Have you or anyone you know ever had a dream about heaven? Explain
2. What stories are often told about heaven?
3. What experiences have you heard people share about encounters with heaven?
4. What does the Bible say about heaven?
2. A Conversation About Christianity
That morning one of my girlfriends came out and sat in the lounge with me. We watched some TV and had a hot drink together. As we sat and chatted generally, I so desperately wanted to have a conversation that would somehow raise the topic of Christianity. All of a sudden I remembered her telling me a story about her five year old. Her daughter goes to a state school and receives Religious Education. The daughter had come home and asked her mummy where people go when they die. I recalled at the time that my friend did not know how to deal with this. So, right there and then, I asked her if her daughter had been asking again lately about life after death. The question was not forced, it came out naturally and this lead to a great discussion about Christianity and hope. We talked how death is not final, how there is an afterlife and how Jesus brings hope. It was a great conversation.
My friend did not fall to her knees and call out to Jesus. We did not spend thirty minutes praying together BUT we did have a great conversation about Christ. She did get to hear a little more about Christ and she understood that Jesus brings hope. I was so excited because I knew God was doing something in her heart and drawing her closer to Himself.
1. Describe a time where you have had a good conversation about Christianity with someone who is not a follower.
2. What stops us from having good conversations?
3. Who could you have a conversation with this week about Christ? What would you say to get things moving along?
3. Eating with Those Who Don’t Know Christ
Arron Chambers recently wrote a book entitled, Eats with Sinners , the rest of this study will be drawing on principles from his book.
After the conversation about Christianity, the other ladies arose from bed and I offered to cook us all some yummy omelettes for breakfast. We sat down and ate our second meal together; much fun and laughter as we reminisced on old times. There is something about sitting down and having a meal with people that seems to take relationships to a new level. In Bible times, eating with someone was a statement, not just an act of hospitality. When people ate with others in Jesus time, they were stating that they were willing to be connected with and that they accepted the individual or group with whom they were eating. This practice of Jesus, being intimate with those not following Christ, was one of the big reasons the Pharisees criticized him. It was legally forbidden in first century Palestinian Judaism, to mingle with sinners, with beggars, with tax collectors and prostitutes. It was a religious, social and cultural taboo .
1.Describe the times when you have eaten with those who don’t know Christ and how this has changed the relationship for the good.
2. Why do we sometimes spend more times having meals with believers than non-believers?
3. Who have you had a meal with and felt from that time that you were more accepted by? How did it make you feel?
4. Who could you schedule time with to have a meal together?
4. Sticking At It
The friends I went away with on the weekend, I have known for more than 25 years. 18 of those years I have been a Christian. At times I have wondered if they will ever come to know Christ. At times I have felt like giving up. Evangelism is a process in people’s lives. If I look at my own life I can see that it took over twenty years before I put my faith and trust in Christ. I am glad today that people and God never gave up on me. We need great resolve, great commitment to keep reaching out to people if we are going to continue with the task of bringing eternity to others.
1. Tell your stories of leading people to Christ. What was the time frame? What was your own journey?
2. How has God moved in the lives of those you are reaching out to? What did they understand of Christianity years ago and how is it different now?
3. Pray and ask God for a heart that will not give up reaching out to others. Pray for strength, for resolve and stick ability in this great commission.
Chambers, Arron. Eats with Sinners: Reaching Hungry People Like Jesus Did. Ohio: Standard Publishing, 2009.