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.
July 5: Answer to Prayer
1. When have you felt inspired to create something? Why were you inspired? What did you create? What did you do with your creation when it was complete?
2. Recall a time when you sensed God encouraging you to do something for someone else. How did you recognize God’s voice in that moment? How did you respond?
3. Do you have friends or family members who are not Christians? If so, describe your relationship with them. What is challenging or frustrating about those relationships? How have those relationships surprised you or encouraged you?
4. Recall a time when you felt worthless or unable to contribute in a meaningful way. Who helped you to feel useful or valuable? What happened to help you overcome those feelings?
5. How does your church invite and encourage all people to be involved in the life of the community? Name some ways your church could be more inclusive and encouraging to those who do not often participate or feel useful.
July 12: Mini-Miracles
1. Imagine you are someone who wants to make the world a better place, and you commit to one small action that will improve people’s lives. What action would you commit yourself to? How would you get other people excited about your mission?
2. Describe a time when you experienced a mini-miracle. What made you aware of God in that moment? How did this experience affect the way you think about or understand God?
3. What is your favorite miracle story from the Bible? When do you first remember reading or hearing the story? How has that story shaped your faith?
4. What mini-miracles have happened in your church or community recently? What makes these events miraculous to you?
5. How might you show others that God cares about even the small moments of their lives?
July 19: A Small World
1. What do you remember being fascinated by as a child? Why were you fascinated by it? Are you still interested in it, or did you outgrow your fascination?
2. Is giving money as spiritual discipline important to you? Who or what has shaped your understanding of faith and money?
3. Are there particular causes, people, or organizations you give money to? Why do you give to these particular organizations? How do their missions align with your faith?
4. Today’s writer says, “I believe that as citizens of the world, we are called to make a difference with whatever we have and however we can.” Do you agree or disagree? How do you try to make a difference in your community or in the world?
5. How does your church participate in making a difference locally and globally? Name some other ways your church community could serve the world.
July 26: God's Timing
1. When you read the words, “Do not fear” in the Bible, how do you respond? Are these words comforting? Frustrating? Challenging? Hopeful?
2. In today’s meditation, Phyllis says she writes her worries in the margins of her Bible. How do you deal with your fears and worries? Do you document them? Do you pray about them? What helps you turn your worries over to God?
3. Describe a time when you felt overwhelmed by fear or worry. What did you pray about during that time? Do you feel that God answered your prayers? Why or why not?
4. When you are waiting for an answer to prayer or to see how a particular situation will unfold, what helps you to be patient? What prayers, Bible passages, rituals, or activities help you to wait for God’s timing?
5. What is the role of the church in praying and answering prayer? How does your church community pray for its members? How does your church acknowledge answers to prayer?
August 2: Christ Is the Center
1. Recall a time when you or someone you know experienced a serious conflict with a family member. How long did the conflict last? What was the outcome of the situation?
2. Have you ever been asked to help two people settle an argument? If so, what was that experience like? What was most challenging for you? What ultimately helped the arguing parties move forward?
3. If you have not been the mediator of an argument, how might you try to help two people or groups resolve a conflict? What strategies would you use? What stories would you tell? What scriptures might help as you seek a resolution?
4. How does your church deal with disagreements or conflict? Who are the mediators in your community? What do you admire about these people? How does their faith help them to be good mediators for the community?
5. What helps you keep Christ at the center of your life? What new practice could you try to refocus your life on Christ?
August 9: Discernment
1. Can you relate to Sharon’s story in today’s meditation? Describe a time when you wanted to attempt something new or challenging. What excited you about that challenge? What made you hesitate? What did you ultimately decide to do?
2. Who in your life has taken on challenges and succeeded? What do you admire about this person? What qualities do you share with this person? How are you different? What can you learn from him or her?
3. When you think about overcoming challenges, what character from the Bible comes to mind? How does this character help you to think about your own challenges differently?
4. In addition to reading scripture, how do you listen for God’s direction? What practices, rituals, or other resources help you to trust God in your daily life?
5. Who are the “master teachers” in your community of faith? Who do you look to for spiritual wisdom and guidance? How do these teachers live out their faith?
August 16: The Hidden Disciple
1. What do you think of Claire’s description of James as a “hidden disciple”? What other hidden disciples can you think of from the Bible?
2. Are you or have you ever been a hidden disciple? Are you comfortable serving in the background, or do you prefer to take a more public role?
3. What are some of the strengths of being a hidden disciple? What are some of the drawbacks?
4. Who are the hidden disciples in your church community? Do you know them by name? How do these disciples serve others? How does the community recognize or include these disciples in the life of the church?
5. What does it mean to you to be a follower of Jesus? What are some characteristics of a faithful disciple?
August 23: Working for the Lord
1. When people say they are “working for the Lord,” what do you imagine them doing? How do you work for the Lord?
2. Do you feel like your daily tasks are part of your Christian service? Why or why not? What would make it easier for you to serve God in your daily life?
3. Name some ways you have served others in the past few weeks. Did you serve in these ways because of your faith or for another reason? How important to your faith is it for you to serve others?
4. Whitney says, “We are called to serve with integrity, a positive attitude, and ethical work habits in . . . whatever our occupation.” Do you agree or disagree with this statement? What other words would you use to describe service to God?
5. In what ways does your church encourage people to serve? How could your church acknowledge and appreciate the talents and service of a wider range of people?
August 30: A Good Representative
1. What was your first reaction to today’s meditation? How do you relate to Maaraidzo’s experience?
2. When have you been asked to represent another person or group of people? How did you feel about being a representative? How did others receive you?
3. What makes someone a good representative? What characteristics, behaviors, or skills would you want someone to have if they were going to represent you?
4. Who is the best ambassador for Christ that you know? What makes this person such a good ambassador? How do they practice their faith and share it with others?
5. Today’s writer says, “I am a good representative when I cease to live for myself and live for Christ.” What does it mean to you to cease to live for yourself? How will you live more for Christ today?
September 6: Higher Ways
1. How do you relate to the writer’s need to get things done in order to feel productive and complete? How important is it to you that you accomplish daily tasks on your to-do list? In what ways do you respond to interruptions in your daily plans?
2. How do you think Jesus felt when he was interrupted by requests to heal people? What does the life and example of Jesus teach us about interruptions?
3. Recall a time when God interrupted your plans. What was the situation? How did you feel about the interruption? What did you learn from this experience?
4. What characters in scripture had their plans interrupted by God? With which of these characters do you most closely relate? Why?
5. The writer of today’s meditation speaks about leaving undone the things God wants us to leave undone. What does God want you to leave undone today?
September 13: Making the Call
1. The writer of today’s meditation says, “I realized that my lack of forgiveness was keeping my prayer from being answered.” Describe what you think she means by this statement. Can you think of a time in your life when this has been true for you?
2. Recall a time when you needed to forgive someone and it was challenging to do so. What was the situation? Why was it hard to forgive the person? Were you able to fully forgive the person? What is your relationship with this person like today?
3. When have you needed forgiveness for something you have done to another person? Did the person forgive you? What was this experience like for you?
4. When a person asks for forgiveness for something they have said or done, how can we tell whether he or she is being sincere? Is it even important that we can tell? Why or why not?
5. This meditation speaks about God’s power to make all things new. When have you experienced God making something new in your life? What would you like to ask God to make new in your life today?
September 20: Differing Roles
1. First Corinthians 12:12 is the quoted verse for today’s meditation. Name some other scripture verses that speak to the idea that we each have unique gifts to offer God.
2. Why do you think it is that people sometimes attribute more importance to serving one role in church over another? Are there certain roles that are more important than others? Why or why not?
3. Has there ever been a time in your life when you have resisted God’s call to take on a certain task or help in a situation? What was God calling you to do? How did you answer God’s call? What was the outcome?
4. Name some of the gifts and different roles in which people serve within your faith community. In what ways are each of these contributions important? What is your gift and how do you use it to serve?
5. If you could serve God in any one role in which you do not currently serve, what would it be and why?
September 27: Prayer Changed Me
1. Do you think God hears all of our prayers at once? If so, how? Are some prayers more important to God than others? Why or why not?
2. Name a time when prayer changed you or altered a situation in your life. Were you the one praying or were prayers being offered for you or both? How did prayer change your situation?
3. How often do you pray? Do you have a favorite place to pray? Are there certain times of day in which you like to pray?
4. Think of a time when prayer did not change the result of a situation but did change your outlook on the situation. Describe the experience. What did it teach you about prayer?
5. In what ways has prayer changed your relationship with God over time? In what ways would you like prayer to change your relationship with God in the future?
October 4: Coming Alongside
1. Name some people who have been an example to you on your faith journey. In what ways were they an example? Is there a memory that stands out when you think of people who have taught you by example?
2. Who in scripture do you rely on as an example for your life? Why do you rely on them?
3. In what ways can you be an example to others on their journey of faith? What have you learned while on your walk with God that you would like to teach others?
4. Name two specific ways in which you can minister to another person in the coming week. What do you hope to show this person through your actions?
5. If you could write a note of gratitude to someone who has had a deep and abiding influence on your life but who is now deceased, what would the note say? What would you want this person to know about their effect on your personal and spiritual growth?
October 11: Who Am I?
1. Have you ever had an experience like the writer of today’s meditation in which it has been difficult to describe who you are as a person? Why was it difficult? What did this experience teach you about yourself?
2. How do you define your identity? How do you think God wants us to define our identity as God’s children? Are these two the same for you? Why or why not?
3. The title of this meditation is “Who Am I?” How would you answer this question in two sentences or less? Given your answer, is there anything that you would like to change about yourself? If so, what?
4. Do you think other people see you as you see yourself? Explain.
5. In what ways does your church community play a role in shaping your identity and the way you understand yourself? Would your answer to the question “Who am I?” be different if you were not part of a church community?
October 18: Hopping Over
1. When have you “stepped over” someone in need of help? Do you regret not offering to help the person? What will you do differently the next time you pass someone in need?
2. The writer of today’s meditation says, “Showing love to others is showing love to God.” Describe a time in which you have shown love to God by showing love to another person. What did you do for this person? How did he or she respond?
3. Should we give to everyone who asks us for help? Is there ever a time when it is okay to not help someone in need?
4. Have you ever had to ask someone for food or money? In what ways did this change your attitude toward those who ask you for help?
5. Do you think most people naturally want to help others? What does scripture say about showing compassion to others? How did Jesus model compassion in his life and ministry?
October 25: Where the Stones Come From
1. What “stones” have caused you hurt and sadness? How did these “stones” affect your life? How did you cope with them?
2. Recall a time when you endured difficult circumstances that would ultimately lay the foundation for something good to happen to you. What was the difficult situation? What good came from it? Should we expect good to come from every difficult situation we experience?
3. Has someone ever said to you, “Everything happens for a reason”? Do you believe this statement to be true? Why or why not? Is this a helpful thing to say to someone suffering pain, anguish, or grief?
4. Can you think of an obstacle that a family member or friend is facing today? In what way — big or small — could you help this person? What is your prayer for him or her?
5. What “stones” do you carry with you today for which you would like the prayers of your faith community?