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Note: Discussion questions appear in the magazine.
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HERE'S A NO-ASSEMBLY-REQUIRED APPROACH.
Christ said that where two or three gather in his name, he is present (Matthew 18:20).* The clear pattern below can guide you in gathering weekly with other believers to listen together for God's guidance using the meditations from The Upper Room magazine. No advance preparation is necessary. No leader is necessary. Group members take responsibility for participating and for encouraging each other to take part.
Small groups usually have guidelines such as these:
- Participation: Each person is encouraged to discuss the day's questions. Anyone may choose to "pass" (not speak) at any time, without explaining why.
- Prayer: Group members pray for one another between meeting times.
- Personal focus: Members talk about their own experience rather than about others and refrain from giving advice.
- Confidentiality: What is shared in the group stays in the group.
- Agree to disagree: Differences of opinion and interpretation are inevitable. We will listen to one another with respect, and we will not attempt to change one another's minds. Our shared desire to know God is more important than any differences we may discover.
- Gentleness: Members deal with one another tenderly and kindly, being careful to assure that they are "speaking the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15).
Your group can discuss these guidelines and add or delete items as group members choose. Many groups post or review their guidelines during each meeting as a reminder of their covenant with one another.
Here is an easy-to-follow plan for a one-hour, weekly meeting based on each Wednesday's meditation in The Upper Room. One person may act as convenor every week, or the role can rotate among group members. You may want to light a candle each week at the beginning of your time together to acknowledge Christ's presence.
Participants will need copies of the current issue of The Upper Room. To order, call 1-800-972-0433 at least 10 days before copies are needed.
- Each day, participants should read the scripture, meditation, and prayer suggested in The Upper Room.
- This study guide may be used by a group or adapted for individual reflection, journaling, and prayer.
Convenor: "Let us come into the presence of God."
Others: "Lord Jesus Christ, thank you for being with us. Let us hear your word to us as we speak to one another."
Convenor or another group member reads the suggested scripture passage for the appropriate Wednesday. After a one- or two-minute silence, convenor asks: "What did you hear God saying to you in this passage? (Group members respond in turn.)
Convenor or another group member reads aloud the quoted verse and the meditation for Wednesday of the week, allowing silence afterward for reflection. The convenor asks: "Where do these words connect with your life? What touches you?" (Group members respond in turn.)
Convenor directs group members to the discussion questions that appear in the magazine following the meditations (usually on pp 71-75). (Each set of questions refers to a specific meditation in this issue.) The convenor reads each question in turn, allowing group members time to respond after each question. Convenor closes discussion five minutes before the meeting time ends.
The convenor asks, "In one sentence, what 'word from the Lord' do you take away from our time together?" (Group members respond in turn.)
Convenor asks: "What prayers rise to the surface for you? What do you want us to pray for in the coming week?" The convenor or another volunteer prays about the concerns named.
Convenor says: "Let us go in peace to serve God and our neighbors in all that we do."
*Matthew 18:20: "Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them." (NRSV)
© 2014 by Upper Room Ministries Inc., P. O. Box 340004, Nashville, TN 37203-0004. For information on books that you may use as small-group study resources, visit the Upper Room Ministries bookstore.