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.

 

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? 

 

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?