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.

January 4: Patient Fishing

1. How often do you share your faith with another person? What is the experience of sharing your faith like for you? 

2. Would you describe yourself as a patient person? In what parts of your life could you become more patient?

3. The writer says, “Opportunities to share our faith present themselves in daily life, often unexpectedly.” Can you think of a time when this was true for you? How did you react to the situation? 

4. Why do you think “fishing” is a good illustration for sharing our faith with others? Are there other images that come to mind?

5. Who in your daily life could you share your faith with today?

January 11: Expressions of Prayer

1. Have you ever been asked by a person you do not know well to pray for him or her? How did you pray for this person? 

2. What do you do when you try to pray but cannot find the right words?  

3. How frequent are your prayers throughout the day? Are there certain times of day you like to pray? Particular locations?

4. Some people may not be comfortable offering a prayer aloud and in public. Can you think of a time when you were asked to pray aloud in the company of others and were not comfortable doing so?  How did you respond?

5. What does scripture teach us about prayer? What does it say about how we are to pray and how often?

January 18: Not Giving Up

1. When have you started something that you had to stop and then start over? Can you see any parallels between this experience and your life of faith?

2. What types of small-group gatherings does your community of faith offer? Do you participate in any of these gatherings? 

3. What challenges do you face today? What stories from scripture encourage you when you are facing challenges?

4. Do you think the challenges that confronted the early Christians in the New Testament were greater than those we are confronted with today? Why or why not?

5. What new opportunities to serve God can you take advantage of today? 

January 25: Soul Answers

1. Recall a time when you endured a sorrow or a loss. What sustained you during this experience? 

2. What questions have you asked God during difficult times? Did God answer your questions? If so, how did you feel about God’s answer?

3. Name some characters in the Bible who experienced great grief and loss. How did they approach their circumstances? What can we learn from them?

4. The writer says, “Only prayer and scripture brought soul answers: deep, unspoken answers that gave me joy in the midst of sorrow.” What do you think she means by “unspoken answers”?

5. How does your faith community support people who are grieving?  What does your community do particularly well?  What could your community do better?

February 1: To Heal a Broken Heart

1. What does the Bible say about trust?  How do those verses or stories influence your trust of other people?  How do they help you trust God?

2. Have you ever had a difficult time trusting someone at first but over time learned to trust them? Describe the situation and what it was that eventually helped you trust them.

3. Whom do you identify with more in this meditation, Shorty or Shorty’s family? Explain your answer. 

4. Is there ever a time when a person is beyond redemption? Yes or no? Why?

5. Who are the physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually broken in your community today? What specific actions can you take to make them feel safer and more loved?

February 8: Serving Quietly

1. Can you think of someone in your own life who, like Bill, is always willing to help others? Why are people like Bill so important in our lives of faith?

2. Have you ever done a good deed for another person for which you received no credit or return? How did this make you feel? 

3. Why does God give each of us different talents? What talent would you like to have that you do not?  What talent do you have that you are grateful for?

4. Name some people in your community who offer their gifts and talents freely to others. Who are they, and what gifts and talents do they offer?

5. What gifts do you offer your community of faith? What other gifts could you offer? What gifts do others in your community contribute that you especially appreciate?

February 15: Eternal Light

1. Why might it be easier for us to put our trust in money or power instead of God? 

2. Can you think of an instance in which you placed your trust in something other than God? What was the outcome of the situation? What did you learn from it?

3. The writer says only God can “guide us to true freedom.” What do you think “true freedom” in God means? What would “true freedom” in your life look like today?

4. What characters in scripture experienced “true freedom”? What parts of their story can you apply to your life?

5. Sometimes family demands, work, and other responsibilities can distract us from God. What practices help you keep God the focus of your life?

February 22: The Prayers of Many People

1. Do you think God is more likely to grant our prayer requests when many people are praying? Why or why not?

2. What are your expectations about the way God should respond to your prayers? How do you respond when God doesn’t answer your prayers the way you would hope or expect? 

3. What threatens your prayer life? What sustains and strengthens it?

4. Does God value some prayers more than others? Explain your answer.

5. Where did you learn to pray? Who taught you how to pray? What memories do you have of your early prayer life?

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?