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Bible studies from Building the capacity of local groups – a Pillars guide

Group discussion guide with eight Bible studies on leadership and relationships in groups

2005 Available in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese

Pillars magazines on a desk

From: Pillars guides

Practical, discussion-based learning on community development for small groups

These Bible studies are designed to use in small groups. They may provide a useful introduction to a meeting where different topics from the Guide are being discussed. Choose a study that will be linked to the topic you plan to study or that is relevant to your situation. During the studies, encourage people to reflect on what they read, to discuss the meaning and the implications of what they learn and, finally, to pray together about what they have learnt.

BIBLE STUDY 1 One in heart and mind

Read Philippians 2:1-4. Is there someone in your life who has treated you in a way that has been a great encouragement, comfort or support to you? Such people help us to realise the value of unity and love.

With any group it is important to:
• agree on a purpose and what we intend our group to achieve
• relate positively to one another.

Paul tells the Philippian church to be ‘one in spirit and purpose’. Likewise, Acts 4:32 says: ‘all the believers were one in heart and mind.’

  • What happens if a group does not have a vision or purpose, or if the members do not all agree and share the vision?
  • How should you decide on the central vision of your group so that all the members are fully behind it?

Jesus said: ‘Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall.’ (Luke 11:17) It is important in any group to consider everyone’s opinions, to ensure that each person in the group feels valued and is contributing in a positive way.

  • Are you listening to others in your group?

Read Philippians 2:5-11. Christ Jesus is, of course, our greatest example. According to this passage, who is Jesus? Yet what was he prepared to do for us? How far will you forego your own position to encourage others?

Read Philippians 2:12-13. Is God achieving his purposes through your group?

BIBLE STUDY 2 Leadership: 1

Read 1 Timothy 3:1-10. This passage describes the qualities Paul considered important for leaders in the church. What does Paul say about the person who sets their heart on being an overseer (verse 1)?

  • Which of the qualities listed for overseers and deacons (verses 2-5 and 7-9) might be important for your group leader(s) and why?
  • What danger does verse 6 say there is in having a recent convert as a church leader? Could there be the same danger for your group if you had a new member leading?
  • What does verse 10 say about deacons?

BIBLE STUDY 3 Leadership: 2

Read the following verses: Exodus 3:11, Judges 6:15, 1 Samuel 9:21, 1 Kings 3:7 and Jeremiah 1:6.

  • What sort of people is God choosing for leadership roles here?
  • What are their attitudes?
  • What model of leadership does Jesus show us in John 13:3-5? What does God say he looks at when he is selecting a leader? (1 Samuel 16:7)

Having reviewed the qualities and attitudes a leader needs and the work to be done, many people might feel (as did some of these examples) inadequate and unable to fulfil the leadership role. This can be a healthy attitude if handled correctly, as it means the leader will look for support and not become proud.

BIBLE STUDY 4 Leadership: 3

What help might your leader need to fulfil their role effectively? The following may give you some ideas:
• God’s help – Exodus 3:11-12; Judges 6:15-16
• Help from others – Exodus 4:10-16; Exodus 17:12; Acts 6:1-7
• Prayer – Acts 6:6; 13:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:25
• Resources and workers – Exodus 36:2-3; Nehemiah 4:6
• Training alongside those with more experience, following the example of Joshua (Exodus 24:13; 33:11); Elisha (1 Kings 19:19-21); Timothy (Philippians 2:22).

BIBLE STUDY 5 One body, many parts: 1

Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 and Romans 12:3-8.

One body – There is much we can learn from these passages about how a group works together. In any group there are a variety of people but they form one body (1 Corinthians 12:12; Romans 12:4-5) and as such have a commitment to, or belong to, one another (1 Corinthians 12:14-16; 12:26).

  • What does this mean in practice for your group?

Many parts – Each member of the group has a gift to use. In these passages several dangers are highlighted when thinking about our own gifts and those of others. What warning does Romans 12:3 give us? 1 Corinthians 12:21-25 teaches of a similar attitude.

  • What happens when we overvalue our own gifts and undervalue those of others or begin to boast about our own gifts?

BIBLE STUDY 6 One body, many parts: 2

The Bible tells us that every person has gifts (1 Corinthians 12:7, 11). Jesus himself also gave us some strong teaching on what happens to those who do not use their gifts (Matthew 25:14-30).

  • Do you know what your gifts are and are you using them (Romans 12:6-8)?

1 Corinthians 4:7 reminds us that all we have has been given to us – so there is no room for pride. However, what is the opposite danger (1 Corinthians 12:15-20)?

  • Is your group functioning well, like a healthy body, where each different member is playing their part? How can you encourage one another to do so?

BIBLE STUDY 7 Planning

Read 1 Chronicles 22:1-19. David shows us the importance of making good preparations before beginning work. Luke 14:28-30 likewise encourages us to ‘estimate the cost’ before starting anything, so that people will not laugh at us because we began something and were then unable to finish it.

We can see how the Five Finger planning method applies to this passage (see sheet C14):

  • WHAT is the action being planned? What did David have it in his heart to do (verse 7)?
  • HOW is the work to be carried out? What resources were needed (verses 2-4, 14)?
  • WHO is going to carry out the work? What part did David play and why (verse 5)?
    • Who is given the overall responsibility during the construction phase (verse 6)?
    • What kinds of workers were involved (verses 15-16)?
    • Who else does David encourage to help (verse 17)?
  • WHERE is the work to be done? 1 Chronicles 21:18 tells us that David was guided by God as to where to build the temple.
  • WHEN would the work be done (verses 7-10)?

All the practical details for this project are thoroughly planned: the aim; the site; the materials; the workers; the supervisor; the helpers and the timing.

  • Who is really in charge of all this planning for the building of the temple? (See for example, 1 Chronicles 28:18 and 1 Chronicles 29:7-13).

Proverbs 16:3 tells us: ‘Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed.’

  • Are you following this advice?

BIBLE STUDY 8 Nothing is impossible with God

Read Judges 7:1-22.

  • Why does the Lord say he cannot deliver Midian into the hands of Gideon and his men?
  • What does he not want Israel to end up doing?
  • Which men turn back first (verses 2-3)?

The Lord uses the way that the men drink from the river to decide who else shall not go with Gideon. The majority of the army kneel down to drink and just 300 men lap with their tongues like a dog, with their hands to their mouths. God tells Gideon that these 300 men are the ones to go into the battle.

  • How does your group choose who will do a certain task (verses 4-8)?
  • Do you seek God’s advice?
  • We are told that the Midianite army is huge (verse 12). How does the Lord encourage Gideon not to be afraid and to believe that his small army will win the battle?

Gideon and his men use the resources they have to great effect: they work together (verses 17-18, 20), with each man playing his part (verse 21), ‘for the Lord and for Gideon’ (verses 18, 20). They know that the victory is the Lord’s (verses 15, 22).

  • How might this passage encourage your group as you face the tasks ahead of you?

If God has called us and we keep our eyes fixed on him, however immense the task seems, and however small our resources are, we will succeed: ‘For with God, nothing is impossible.’ (Luke 1:37)   

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