WITH – Small Group Guide 1

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WEEK 1 – How Do You Relate to God?

All material is based on Skye Jethani’s book: With (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2011)

GOAL: To help the students where they fall in the postures of relating to God, in hopes that they might understand what it means to live LIFE WITH GOD.

Opening Activity

You have been given 20 “if” questions on pieces of paper or cards. Place them face down in the middle. Choose someone to start. That person will draw one, read it out loud, and give his or her answer. If necessary, ask them to give their name before they answer a question. The card is discarded. Keep it going, but don’t go for long. Finish when you feel it is time to end. You do not have to go through all the questions.

[http://insight.typepad.co.uk/40_icebreakers_for_small_groups.pdf]

QUESTIONS

Which of these 4 postures best describes how you relate to God? Has it always been this way? Have you related to God through more than just one of these postures?

At this point, do not be afraid to go over the postures again. This could also be a good point to share which of these camps you fall into. If they continue to have trouble with this question, suggest specific places in which the students may have experienced a posture (at school? at church? in a sporting event? during a test? on a mission trip?).

Which of the 4 postures best captures how your church or youth groups relates to God?

This is an interesting question. It may make it easier for some of the students, to analyze an outside party or a group. Less personal, more removed.

Look at the story of the Prodigal Son. Before reading it, ask the students to be thinking about the 5 postures in relation to God, and figure out where these 5 postures show up in the story. Read Luke 15:11-32. Ask them where/in whom the postures are found. Ask them which brother they identify with. Share which brother you identify with.

This is another exercise to help in the understanding of 4 incomplete postures, and 1 true posture: WITH.

Do you know anyone like the father in the story of the Prodigal Son? Do you know anyone like either of the brothers?

We have seen an example of a LIFE WITH GOD.

Complete this sentence. Living a LIFE WITH GOD is/looks like ______________________.

Be prepared to have some words or phrases ready. After looking at the story of the Prodigal Son, I would fill the blank with: constant, present, grace-filled, not one-sided, mutual, surrender, family, love, pursuit, etc.

What motivates you to have a relationship with God? What motivates you to obey God?

This question is similar to those above. We want the students to recognize their primary way(s) of relating to God in order to facilitate a better of understanding that may point them toward LIFE WITH GOD. Are they motivated by fear? By lack of control? By necessity? By family? The motivation of the father in the story of the Prodigal Son is love.

What would Jesus have done differently if he had lived a LIFE FROM GOD? UNDER GOD? ABOVE GOD? FOR GOD? This is another suggested question. Interesting to think about.

FINISH

Share your hope for the students, that they will continue to process what you’ve talked about today. This week, at school/work/sports/homework, be conscious of how you talk to God or what you think about God. Are you living LIFE WITH GOD? Or are you relating to God in an incomplete way?

PRAYER CONCERNS

Ask for thoughts and concerns that you can bring to God in prayer.

CLOSING PRAYER

Feel free to pray the prayer below, or have a student pray, or make up something different.

God,

Thank you for your Son. Thank you for desiring a relationship WITH us. Cultivate within us a desire to be WITH you. Help us to remember that above all, you dwelled WITH us in Christ, and continue to do so through your Spirit. Do not let us forget what we talked about today. Cause us to dwell on it this week. Cause us to desire a deep and complete relationship WITH you.

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Lane is the Pastor of Discipleship at Brentwood United Methodist Church in Brentwood, Tennessee. He’s a graduate of Huntingdon College and Harvard Divinity School and is an elder in the Tennessee Conference of the United Methodist Church. Lane has a passion for making disciples for Jesus and for Auburn football! Follow him on Twitter: @RevLaneDavis.

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