Small Group Study Questions

An easy plan to use The Upper Room in small groups.

Christ is among us in fresh ways when we gather together, listening to God and to each other.

Once a week, gather with other believers to share a longer devotional time of about an hour.  You may meet any time during the week and replace that day’s reading with Wednesday’s reading.

• Begin by reading the Bible passage on the Read line and the day’s meditation, allowing silence for at least a minute afterwards.  Then ask members to turn to the questions for that date listed below or on one of the following pages.

•  Ask someone to read aloud the questions one by one, giving each group member the opportunity to answer after each question.  If anyone prefers not to answer a particular question, move on to the next person.

•  Discuss how everyone thinks differently, and try to hear what the Holy Spirit may be saying to you in all this.

•  Decide what you will do with God during the week.

•  Be quiet and pray together.

For a more detailed meeting guide, see http://devotional.upperroom.org/resources/small-groups.

March 1: Ash Wednesday

1. Whose perseverance, courage, and dedication has inspired you along your faith journey?  In what other ways has this person inspired you? 

2. Do you observe Lent by taking on a new discipline or by giving up something?   What do you get out of the experience? 

3. Name something that you could give up this Lent in order to grow in Jesus’ likeness.  Name something that you could take on.  Which of these do you think will best help you grow closer to God?

4. How can you relate to Matt’s statement, “It is easy to be a fan but hard to be an athlete”?  Can you think of an instance in your life when you found it easy to be a fan but hard to be an athlete?  Describe the experience. 

5. What disciplines or habits do you practice in your life of faith that help you grow closer to Christ?

March 8: How Does Your Garden Grow?

1. Think of a story from scripture where God has given someone new life.  In what ways do you relate to the story?  How does it encourage you?

2. How does Lent help us prepare the soil of our lives for the new things God is doing within each of us?  Why is “preparing the soil” important? 

3. Do you sense any new and exciting challenges on the horizon for your growth as a Christian?  If so, what are they?  How are you preparing for these challenges?  

4. What spiritual disciplines — prayer, scripture reading, meditation — do you practice that help cultivate the soil of your life?  How do these disciplines make you more aware
of and ready to receive the new life God offers? 

5. Where have you seen signs of new life around you in the past week?  What were they?  In what places and in what ways can you look for signs of new life in the days and weeks to come?

March 15: Welcoming the Stranger

1. What “strangers” can you think of from scripture?  How do their stories help us better understand our relationship to God and to one another? 

2. Has there ever been a time when you were in a strange place or situation and others welcomed you into the group or community?  What was this experience like for you?  What did it teach you about yourself and about others?

3. How easy or difficult is it for you to talk to someone different from yourself?  Why is it easy or difficult? 

4. Name some of the barriers — social, political, ethnic, economic, religious — that exist between people.  What do you believe God thinks of these barriers?  As Christians, how should we respond to the things that separate people?

5. Who are the strangers in need of welcome in your community?  What can you do to make them feel welcome? 

March 22: Strength in Christ

1. What is the most difficult situation you have faced in your life?  Describe the situation.  What got you through it?  What did you learn from it? 

2. Have you ever felt invisible while enduring a hardship?  How did this experience change the way you look at others in similar circumstances? 

3. Name some characters in the Bible who faced seemingly insurmountable obstacles.  Describe their situations.  How did they overcome their obstacles?  What can we learn from them?

4. How did you respond to the last homeless person you encountered?  After reading today’s meditation, will you respond differently to the next homeless person you meet?  Why or why not?

5. For what challenges and difficulties do you need Christ’s strength today?  What scripture passages do you rely on for inspiration and encouragement? 

March 29: A Party with Presents

1. When have you given to someone expecting nothing in return?  What was this like for you? 

2. Jesus says, “For the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”  What did Jesus mean by this statement?  Can you think of a specific situation from your own experience that illustrates what Jesus was talking about?

3. Why is it important for us to give to others out of our abundance?  Is giving to others easy or difficult for you?  Why? 

4. Recall a gift that was given to you for which you were unable to repay the giver.  How did this make you feel?  Did it change the way you give to others?  If so, how?

5. Name one gift you can give in the coming week.  What is the gift?  Who will you give it to?

April 5: Leftovers

1. What spiritual leftovers do you serve God?  Why do you think God wants us to give our fresh spiritual selves each day? 

2. What is the first thing you do in the morning after getting out of bed?  How might it change your day to do something entirely focused on God — praying, studying scripture, reading a devotion — upon first waking? 

3. Think of a time when you have not given God your best.  What was the outcome?  What would you have done
differently? 

4. What activities keep you from spending time with God?  What things in your life can you let go of that would allow you to focus more closely on God?  What would letting go of these things cost you?  How would it benefit you?

5. Name some of the blessings God has given you today.  How do you show God gratitude for these blessings?  In what new ways can you show God gratitude?

April 12: The Path of Mercy

1. When was the last time you showed mercy to another person similar to the way the Samaritan showed mercy to the man?  Describe the situation.  What did this teach you? 

2. When was the last time you were in a time of crisis and someone was a good Samaritan to you?  Who was your good Samaritan?  What did this person do to help you? 

3. What in the story of the good Samaritan challenges you or makes you uncomfortable?  Why? 

4. Have you encountered someone in need of help, but instead of helping the person you passed them by?  Reflecting on this experience, how do you feel about your actions now?  What could you have done differently? 

5. What does it mean to you to be a neighbor to others?  Who needs your help?  What can you sacrifice to help this person? 

April 19: Someone Prayed for Me

1. Have you prayed for someone but the outcome of their situation was different from what you were praying for?  What does this say about prayer? 

2. Do our prayers make a difference in the lives of those for whom we are praying?  What difference could it make in your life if you knew someone was praying for you? 

3. It has been said that “Prayer doesn’t change God, it changes us.”  What do you make of this statement?  Do you think it’s true?  Can you think of a time when you have been changed by prayer?

4. Try to recall instances in scripture when Jesus prayed for others.  What can Jesus’ prayers for us teach us about our own intercessory prayers?

5. Who in your faith community needs your prayers today?  What in your own life do you need others to pray for?

April 26: The Gift of Serving

1. When have you felt that your gifts were too small to make a significant contribution to the work of the church? 

2. Have you ever tried to do something alone but discovered you could do it only with the help of another person?  What were you trying to do?  Who helped you accomplish your task? 

3. Who in your church contributes their gifts to improve the well-being of the congregation?  In what ways can you show gratitude to these persons for their service? 

4. Why is the gift of service important?  Why do you think God wants us to use our gifts to serve others? 

5. Name some of the opportunities to serve in your faith community.  Which of these opportunities could you offer your gifts and talents to?

May 3: The Wind at Your Back

1. Do you think it should be easier for Christians to “control their demons” than it is for non-Christians?  Why or why not?

2. What scripture passages come to mind when you think
about God’s grace and forgiveness? Which of these are most encouraging for you? 

3. Have you ever found it difficult to forgive yourself for something you have done?  Why was it difficult? Is it helpful to know that God forgives us and forgets about what we have done?  Why or why not? 

4. Think of a situation in your life today in which you would 

like to have a fresh start.  What is the situation and what would it look like for you to start fresh? 

5. How does your church talk about and model forgiveness?  Give an example of a time when someone in your church needed or showed forgiveness.  What did you learn from this example? 

May 10: God, the Mother

1. The writer of today’s meditation says, “God is both mother and father for us.”  Is the picture of God the Mother as appropriate an image as God the Father?  Why or why not?

2. Can you think of other scripture passages where God is depicted more like a mother than a father?  Which of these passages speak to you most?  What other descriptions of God in scripture are meaningful to you?

3. What images or characteristics come to mind when you think of your earthly mother? Which of these attributes does God have?  Did you come to know God in this way from personal experience or from scripture? 

4. Do you read and study one translation of the Bible or several translations?  What are some of the possible benefits of reading and studying more than one translation? 

5. Are you part of a small-group Bible study?  If so, what topics does your group discuss? What has been the most memorable topic for you?  Why is it the most memorable?

May 17: The Ice Cream Man

1. Think of an experience similar to the writer of today’s meditation in which someone has shown you kindness.  How did it feel to be treated with such compassion?  In what ways was your experience similar to that of the writer?

2. What does scripture say about how we are to treat other people?  Is there one scripture passage that is most meaningful to you?  Why is it most meaningful to you?  Name a few ways you try to put this passage into practice.

3. When have you witnessed an exemplary act of compassion?  What did you learn from this experience? Did it change your understanding of compassion in any way? If so, how?

4. When has showing compassion to someone been particularly challenging for you?  Why? What did you do? 

5. In what ways does your church community encourage acts of compassion toward others? Name some specific acts of compassion you can show to someone in your community of faith today. 

May 24: My Daughter’s Example

1. Have you ever felt hurt because someone did not include you?  What other feelings did you experience toward this person? How did this affect your relationship?

2. When has a child taught you an important life lesson? What did that child teach you?  How might your church learn from the children in your congregation? 

3. Is it easy or difficult for you to forgive someone who has hurt you?  When did you last forgive someone for hurting you? 

4. Have you ever hurt someone and needed forgiveness from him or her?  Did you ask that person for forgiveness?  What was this experience like for you?  What did you learn from it? 

5. Think of examples in scripture where Jesus forgave those who were hurting him.  What do these examples teach us about forgiveness? 

May 31: Complain or Contribute?

1. Do you agree with the writer of today’s meditation when he says that we should go to church with the attitude of “what can I put into it”?  Why or why not?

2. Do you think worship is important?  Why or why not?  Do you go to worship every week?  What do you like most about your worship service?  What do you like least? 

3. If you could change one aspect of your worship service, what would it be and why would you change it?

4. Have you ever been guilty of making the same complaint overheard by the writer?  In what ways might today’s meditation change what you say or do the next time you are tempted to complain about a worship service?

5. The writer says that we can meet the needs of people
within our congregations by complimenting them, volunteering, contributing financially, and praying for them.  In what other ways can we as people of faith meet others’ needs?

June 7: Hold Nothing Back

1. Has there ever been a time in your journey of faith when you have given all of something you have in order to help another person?  Who was the person and what did you give?

2. Can you think of other occasions in scripture when someone gave all of what they had to God?  Which of these stories do you find most encouraging?  Most discouraging?  Why? 

3. When has someone given you all of something very costly or important to them?  How did this make you feel?  After the experience, did it influence how you give to others?

4. At the end of today’s meditation the writer asks, “Will we give God only a little here and a little there, or will we break ourselves open and pour ourselves out to God?”  How would you respond to this question? 

5. How does your church pour itself out for the surrounding community?  What ministries, offerings, or relationships does your church support?  How might you participate and pour yourself out by doing God’s work today? 

June 14: Perspectives

1. How do you think God sees you?  Is there anything about this picture that you would like to change?  If so, what?  How would you like other people to see you?

2. How do you picture God? Why do you think of God as having these particular attributes? How did you come to think of God in this way?  Has your image of God changed over time?

3. Has there ever been a person in your life whom you disliked because she reminded you of something you disliked in yourself?  What could this experience teach you not only about other people but about yourself? 

4. When have you had a difficult time loving something about yourself?  Why was it difficult? What did you do?  Did you try to change yourself or change the way you felt about that
characteristic?

5. What does it mean to you to be an “imperfect, yet adored” child of God?  How does this affect the way you look at others and treat them?  How could it affect the way others look at and treat you? 

June 21: Just Help

1. Recall a time when you judged someone based on the way he or she looked or because you had a preconceived idea of how the person should behave.  What was the situation? How did you respond to the person? What did you learn from the experience?

2. The writer says, “I learned that it is not my place to judge but to help.”  What do you think of this statement?  Do you agree or disagree with it? Is this true in all situations? 

3. Whose actions in this meditation do you more closely identify with—the husband or the wife?  Why? 

4. Have you ever had reservations about giving money to someone like the man in today’s meditation?  Why were you hesitant to give to the person? 

5. How will you respond the next time someone asks you for money? 

June 28: Letting Go

1. When have you held on to something that you couldn’t seem to let go of?  What prevented you from letting go of it? 

2. Do you like to feel in control of your problems?  Why or why not?  What do we risk by fully turning our problems over to God?  What could we gain?

3. What is your initial reaction to a problem that seems insurmountable?  How has the way in which you react to a problem changed over the course of your life?

4. Can you think of any characters in scripture who turned their problems over to God?  What was the outcome of their situations?  What can we learn from them?

5. What problem can you let go of today?  What positive effect could it have on your life to give this problem entirely to God?