Small Group Series
Copyright © 2019 SDMI Philippine-Micronesia Field.
Written by Dick O. Eugenio.
TScriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™
Series editors: Dick O. Eugenio and David Ackerman
Joint project of SDMI and Literature Development of the Philippine-Micronesia Field, Church of the Nazarene.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction . . . . .
How to Use This Booklet . . . . .
Session 1: Freedom . . . . .
Session 3: Committed Relationship . . . .
Session 4: Career . . . . . .
Session 5: Social Expectations . . . .
It is saddening that the same young adults who have been very active in ministries in local churches as high school and college students, upon finding employment or starting a family, are no longer as involved in the churches. A huge number of them either leave the church altogether or find megachurches to attend. This means that the people in whom the church has invested a lot of time and effort, and who should now become the financial pillars of local churches, are actually walking through the back doors of our churches.
Young professionals experience several transitions, and the failure to cope with these transitions lead to spiritual struggles. Young professionals enter a new world of expectations, opportunities, and competing commitments, and sadly, they have not been prepared well to face these new challenges. Basically, they need help in connecting their existing faith commitments to their new circumstances. Important questions they ask include:
- How do we keep our spiritual fervor when we have more money than before?
- How do we keep our ministerial commitments when we now have the means and freedom to be somewhere else?
- How do we keep our church involvement when we are involved in serious committed relationships?
- How do we balance between career demands and church commitments?
- How do we deal with social, familial, and work expectations while maintaining our faith in Jesus Christ?
This series guides young professionals through the several transitions they face. The hope is that through this series, Christian young professionals will be able to face their struggles according to the Scriptures and use their circumstances as stepping stones to grow spiritually.
HOW TO USE THIS BOOKLET
This workbook is designed for ease of use. It practically provides step-by-step guidelines in conducting a lesson. This booklet can be used as a Bible study guide for one-on-one settings or for small groups. The format is intentionally designed for discussions, not lecture-type interactions. The leader should view himself or herself as a facilitator, not an elementary teacher spoon-feeding students.
It is important for leaders to do a personal study of the lessons before attempting to facilitate them. They should have a personal copy of this booklet. Leaders should also encourage their members to have their own copy. It is also very important that members should have a pen to use during the sessions. Bible passages and suggested discussion questions are already provided so that leaders and the members will not have to switch back and forth between this booklet and their Bibles. Spaces are also available for the members to write their answers. As much as possible, leaders should not divert from the teaching topic. They should stick to what is in the workbook.
The booklet contains lessons for five sessions. Group meetings will last approximately one and a half hours. There are four parts in every session: Warm Up, Word, What Now? and Work.
- WARM UP contains questions and activities the group can do to help prepare the members for the study. The group should not spend more than 7 minutes in this section. It is only meant as an introduction to get the ball rolling for the group.
- WORD contains the actual Bible lessons. Here, the group will read Scripture passages together, answer the provided questions, and discuss other related matters. Again, leaders should not lecture.
- WHAT NOW? provides an avenue for the members to reflect on the implications of the lesson for them and in their lives. Members will be challenged to go beyond an intellectual study of the Word to the realm of application. Suggested questions and activities are also provided in this section.
- WORK spells what learners should do outside of the session. It is probably more appropriate to call this section “Homework.” This aspect of the lesson hopes to reinforce what members have learned during the session, challenging them to practice immediately what they learned.
The lessons here are very straightforward. Pray that the Spirit of Truth will teach you and guide you as you go through these lessons.
Soli Deo gloria!
“I have the right to do anything,” you say-but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”-but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others (1 Corinthians 10:23-24)
One of the greatest transitions young adults experience, especially upon graduating from college/university and being employed, is to have a new found freedom. It is not an exaggeration to say that in most Asian nations, since our birth up to our college graduation, we are very dependent on our parents. This heavy dependence on our parents implies that a lot of our choices are limited. Our parents have a strong voice about when we should be at home, what we should do (including career paths in some), with whom we should hang out, who can visit us at our homes, and other related things.
But as soon as we are employed, we are earning our own money. We can be away from home because of work and other commitments. In families where we as working young adults become financial contributors to the family, we notice that our parents also loosen up their previous restrictions. Basically, we as young professionals get to taste freedom in an unprecedented manner. The questions, however, are: Are we ready to be responsible with our new found freedom? Is our faith prepared to cope up with the new temptations and challenges that are before us?
As a young adult, what things can you do now that you have never had the opportunity to do when you were still studying? Are there things you are freely doing now that are actually not beneficial to you?
From time to time, it is important for us to evaluate ourselves. We should ask if the things we are doing right now are actually our way of rewarding ourselves for what we view as deprivation, control, and limitations that we experienced when we were younger. This means that we are doing the things we are doing because we were not able to experience them in the past. We feel that we are just rewarding ourselves for these past sacrifices. For instance, one who was not allowed to be in romantic relationships before now rebels by being in several relationships. In order to satisfy our curiosity and in the spirit of “experimentation,” we try new things, even when we are aware of their unwholesome nature and consequences.
It is important that young professionals understand the biblical meaning of freedom. We need to learn how to use our freedom to bring glory to God, not to satisfy our own selves. Freedom is a precious gift that carries a lot of responsibilities. It can open up opportunities for maturity. It can be used by the devil to lead us astray. We are stewards of our new found freedom. How we use it affects both our present and future. Most importantly, the decisions we make and how we conduct ourselves because of our new found freedom affect our Christian journey in the most profound way. Ideally, with more freedom should come more maturity and intimate relationship with God. Sadly, however, most young professionals experience the exact opposite.
So what should we do? What should we learn about freedom that can help us re-align ourselves to God and His purposes?
In preparation for next week’s meeting, read Matthew 20:20- 28.
Servant in Life
At the end of the lesson, members should have learned the example of Jesus Christ as he served others throughout his ministry.
Service is a lifestyle. We cannot congratulate ourselves or tap our backs with smiles on our faces for having done just one act of service for the whole week. Jesus lived His life being a servant to others: to the sick, to His own disciples, to sinners, to the condemned, and to the suffering. Wherever He went, He was ready to serve. And in the story of the washing of the feet of the disciples, He was ready to serve even if it meant acting like a Roman slave (John 13:1-15). In this lesson, we are going to look at how Jesus served in His life.
- Obedient Servant (John 4:34; 5:30; 14:31; 15:10; Heb 10:5-7; Ps 40:6-8)Jesus served in accordance with the Father’s will and purposes (John 12:49). No one can be a true servant without being obedient to God and sensitive to His will. We are not servants in accordance with our own inventions and creativity. We serve because we know the will of God us and for those we meet in our lives, whether we are in our homes, riding the bus, or on the streets. We serve because we know God’s commands and we obey them with all our hearts. Just as Jesus obeyed, we too are expected to do the same (John 14:31).
- What is the relationship between service and obedience?
- What is the relationship between service and being sent? (John 3:17)
- Humble Servant (Luke 22:27; Matt 11:29)Jesus served as a lowly servant, humbling himself even among the most common people. He was not intimidated by the powerful and influential, but He also did not try to serve in accordance to their standards. Unlike his contemporary religious leaders, He did not wear fancy robes when he served. He identified with the people, with sinners and the poor (Mark 2:17; Luke 5:31-32). He stooped down to their level of understanding and knelt in front of them, if kneeling is how He can properly serve them.
- Are there other examples of Jesus’ humble service apart from John 13:1-17? Why is humility an important part of serving others?
- Ministering Servant (John 13:1-17)Jesus’ servanthood is manifested in attending to other people’s needs. This teaches us that serving is not a mental or intellectual exercise. Real service to people happens not when we are imaging how we can serve them, but when we are actually with them in their homes, or on the streets. Having the intention to serve is not enough. Those intentions must be translated to action. Like Jesus, who looked for people to serve, we must also be more aggressive in serving. We do not wait for the needy to come to us. We must be intentional in looking for them.
- How did Jesus serve his disciples? (John 13:1-17; 17:6-19)
- How did Jesus serve other people? How is our ministry in the church and outside serve God and others?
What ministries and acts of service are we involved in right now that require obedience to God’s will and humility? How can we be intentional everyday so that we are always looking for people to serve?
In preparation for next week’s meeting, read Mark 10:35-45.
Servant through Death
At the end of the lesson, members should have understood the cost of serving God and others.
Jesus did not only serve while He was alive. Even His death on the cross is His act of service to humanity. This portrays that the whole life of Jesus, from beginning to end, was characterized by serving others. We can easily understand the idea of serving through death, as there are many people, especially those in the police and military services that exemplify this. Just recently, in January 2015, the forty-four soldiers who died in Mindanao serving their country is a good example.
- Willingness to Suffer (Isa 53:7; Mark 15:16-20)It is easy to serve in our comfort zones. It is easy to serve when what we do is within our areas of interest. Nobody wants to experience pain and suffering. We have medicines precisely to null pain. Jesus knew from the very beginning that He would suffer and die (Matt 16:21-28; Mark 8:31-38; Luke 18:31-33), but He pressed on to go to Jerusalem where He would receive His death sentence (Luke 17:11). We see in Jesus the tenacity to serve, even it meant physical, emotional, and social suffering (Matt 27:27-31). He endured everything for the sake of those He loved.
- Is it possible to serve without experiencing suffering?
- What possible sufferings (social, emotional, physical) can God’s servants experience today?
- Willingness to Die (Mark 10:45)Jesus served humanity even if it meant dying a shameful criminal’s death on the cross (Luke 23:32; Acts 17:11; Heb 12:2). He literally gave His life for the sake of others (Matt 20:28), so that our sins might be forgiven (Acts 13:38). But Jesus did not die only for His friends. In fact, the astonishing fact is that Jesus died precisely for those who crucified Him (John 15:13; Rom 5:7- 8). This is what made His love perfect: He loved even the unrighteous (Matt 5:43-48).
- How was Jesus able to willingly embrace death for the sake of others? What can be the best motivation today for people to serve even to the point of death?
- Sacrificial Death (Matt 19:21-22)Although persecution that leads to death is not experienced in the Philippines, we can still experience “death” in different ways. For those who have familial responsibilities, serving full- time might mean scorn from relatives and misunderstanding from family members. For those who are in positions of power, it might mean social suicide. For those who are either rich or poor, serving might mean financial doom. Whatever it is, serving entails the willingness to die in one form or another.
- Jesus died precisely because He was serving humanity. In our call to serve, how should be understand the related call to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him (Matt 16:24)?
Every act of serving entails a form of sacrifice. It may not be physical death, although this is a possibility in many countries. The crucial questions for all of us are: What sacrifices are we willing to do in order to serve God and others? What sacrifices are we not willing to do (or are difficult to do) in order to serve God and others?
In preparation for next week’s lesson, read Romans 8:28-34.
Servant in Ascension
At the end of the lesson, members should be able to realize that we can serve others even without being physically with them.
Today, when major corporations and business people extend some sort of service to others, they are usually followed by cameramen. This kind of service can easily make others doubt their motives and altruism. It is very hard to find people today who do not let others know the good they are doing (Matt 6:3- 4). With social media, even Christians are tempted to post everything they do and accomplish. It would be nice if they only post, but when they add captions to their photos with judgmental overtones against others who they assume are not doing what they are doing, then their sins multiply.
- Serving in Absence (John 14:1-1-3; 16:7)As recorded in Acts 1:6-11, Jesus ascended into the right hand of the Father. So does this mean that Jesus’ service ended? Did He resign from servanthood? The writer of the book of Hebrews says that Jesus is actively serving humanity even today. How? He is interceding for us (Heb 7:25). Even in His physical absence from us, He still cares (1 Pet 5:7). This is the astonishing love of Christ for humanity. We have a Savior who serves relentlessly. He finds ways to serve wherever He is.
- How does Jesus serve us today, as found in John 14:10-3?
- How is it that the absence of Jesus on earth actually helps us? (John 16:7)
- How can we serve today even if we are not with people?
- Serving in Prayer (Rom 8:34)Like the writer of Hebrews, Paul wrote that Jesus Christ “is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us” (Rom 8:34). Jesus shows us that we can serve others wherever we are by remembering them in prayer (James 5:16). In fact, praying for others is a good way to serve others silently. Just remembering them and lifting them up to the Lord, and making petitions on their behalf is already a good exercise. This way, we are also taught that prayer is not only about the self and God. We must allow the Holy Spirit to help us discern what to pray for others (Rom 8:26).
- How is praying for others an act of service?
- Why is it important to follow Jesus’ example of interceding for others?
- Serving Behind the Curtains (Luke 8:1-3)Like Jesus who serves while hidden from our eyes, we too can serve behind the curtains. People do not need to know the good works we do or the amount of donation we give. We do not need to be under the spotlight or to be followed by cameras when we serve. In fact, most of the services we must do are not really big. Rather, our daily lives are characterized by the calling to serve in the littlest ways, such as washing the dishes, picking up trash thrown by others, smiling at a stranger, etc. Also, we can be called to be a member of the support team, not to be at the frontline, and this is absolutely fine.
- What can we learn from the examples of the women disciples in Luke 8:1-3; 23:55-56?
- Why do Christians prefer to have gifts that can put them under the spotlight?
- What services can we do behind the curtains?
Like Jesus who served both at the frontline and behind the curtains, what ministry involvement and service to others can we do today that puts us at the frontline? What can we do today that are not seen by others?