Life in the Church
The Point: I love and serve Christ when I love and serve His body, the church.
Get Into the Study
Use the following information to supplement Question #1.
Begin by sharing the following news story:
It is not unusual to hear members of successful sports teams sometimes talk about the ways that their team is like a family. The University of Connecticut women’s rowing team is one such team. In talking about the rowing team, Emily Woodrow, one of the team members says, “In basketball and field hockey, as in many sports, one star player can carry a team to victory. Rowing is very different. The boat must act as one unit, and we need to trust everyone around us.”
“The speed of the boat is based on chemistry and trust between teammates. Without the foundation of family, the boat might lose the extra amount of fight needed to power through a race,” said sophomore team member Michela Zunino.
Freshman rower Taylor Evangelista says, “I love this team because it is my family away from home. Everyone gets along and respects each other, which is great for our team dynamic.”
Say: For these college athletes at UCONN, being part of a team that works together like a family is important to their success as athletes.
Then read Question #1 (What is the best thing about being a part of a group that has a “family feel” to it?)PSG p. 104) and invite volunteers to respond to the question.
Information for this post was gleaned from here:
— Donna McKinney wrote this Leader Extra. Donna is retired from a career with the federal government of the United States. She is a veteran Bible study group leader living in North Carolina.
Study the Bible
Use the following activity at the conclusion of the 1 Peter 4:8-9 section. Summarize the following biography of Rosaria Butterfield. Then, share the quote from her book to begin discussion and questions.
Rosaria Champagne Butterfield is a writer, speaker, homemaker, and former tenured professor of English at Syracuse University. Butterfield, who earned her Ph.D. from Ohio State University in English Literature, served in the English Department and Women Studies Program at Syracuse University from 1992 to 2002. She achieved tenure in 1999, the same year that she converted to Christianity. She married in 2001.
Butterfield is more widely known today for the autobiography she published, “The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor’s Journey into the Christian Faith,” in which she tells about her transformation from a postmodern lesbian professor to the wife of a pastor and homeschooling mother.1
After Rosaria sent an op-ed to a local paper about a Christian group coming to town, a local pastor wrote her a letter and then invited her to dinner in his home. In this excerpt from her book, Rosaria details her first visit with the Smiths:
“Ken and Floy did something at the meal that has a long Christian history but has been functionally lost in too many Christian homes. Ken and Floy invited a stranger in – not to scapegoat me, but to listen and to learn and to dialogue. Ken and Floy have a vulnerable and transparent faith. We didn’t debate worldview; we talked about our personal truth and about what “made us tick.” Ken and Floy didn’t identify with me. They listened to me and identified with Christ. They were willing to walk the long journey to me in sharing Christian compassion. During our meal, they did not share the gospel with me. After our meal, they did not invite me to church. Because of these glaring omissions to the Christian script as I had come to know it, when the evening ended and Pastor Ken said he wanted to stay in touch, I knew that it was truly safe to accept his open hand.” (pg. 11)2
- What is most profound to you about Rosaria’s encounter with the Smiths?
- How is her experience of hospitality different than your current, working definition of hospitality?
- Why did Rosaria continue coming back to the Smiths for conversation and hospitality?
- What can we learn from Rosaria’s experience?
- Butterfield, Rosaria, “Secret Thoughts of An Unlikely Convert,” Crown and Covenant Publications; Pittsburg, PA, 2012.
Emily Jennings (M.A., Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) lives in the metro-Atlanta area and teaches the Bible at First Baptist Church Woodstock. She is married to Brian, has three wonderful sons and pretends to be a runner. Find her on Instagram and Twitter: @emilyejenn
- What are some questions we ask when we first meet someone, to discover their identity?
- How does our society place value on certain roles or identities over others?
- Who in your life does a great job of serving others? Explain.
- Who in the church who has influenced you in a big way?
- When have you been a part of an organization that had a “family feel” to it?
1 Peter 4:7
- Why do we struggle to be faithful in praying—both for our physical family, and for our spiritual family?
- How has your awareness of the value of the Body of Christ changed over the course of your life as a Christian?
- How is church like family?
- How do our prayers serve the church family?
- How does being “serious and disciplined” help our prayer life?
- How is church different from a club, association or team of which you are a member?
- When have you seen prayer work against the corruption of our culture?
- What steps can you take to increase your prayers for your church?
- What helps you be disciplined in your prayer life?
- If you compared your prayer life to a car, what kind of car would it be? What could you do to upgrade to a better model?
1 Peter 4:8-9
- How can we grow in our willingness to go through difficulties within the Body of Christ and not run away when things get hard?
- When has God been glorified through a difficult season in your church Body?
- It’s easy to serve someone who is like us. How can we serve somebody we don’t necessarily get along with?
- In what ways does love cover a multitude of sins?
- What does hospitality look like in words? In actions?
- Who among your friends and family obeys these verses well?
- When have you seen love cover up the damage done by sin?
- How would you summarize hospitality in today’s world?
- What steps can this group take to be more hospitable?
- What makes complaining so easy—even in the church? What steps can you take to replace complaining with hospitality?
1 Peter 4:10-11
- When has God used you to encourage or bless someone else in the Body of Christ?
- Why aren’t spiritual gifts to be a source of pride or judgment?
- How do we discover and discern the gifts God has given us?
- How can your God-given design be a blessing to your church family?
- What should be the ultimate purpose/goal of our service?
- What gifts do you bring to the table as a part of a church family?
- When have you been blessed recently by the gifts of others?
- How can we ensure that our service results in glory to God, rather than ourselves?
- How can we glorify God through the way we use our gifts?
Share the following with your group members as either a devotional before the group study or as a follow-up devotional:
Here’s a brief five-minute teaching video about this session: Identity, Session 2