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Lent Course

2014

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Rural
Matters

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A Guide for Group Leaders

General notes :

These guidelines are to help you and your group fulfil the "Aim" of each session. Do not feel that you have to follow them exactly. It may be that the Holy Spirit will lead your group to tackle the questions in a different order, or even omit some of them. What is important is that the "Aim" of each session is achieved.

When the word “Gift(s)” is used in the notes with a capital letter it is referring specifically to “Spiritual Gifts”. Your own preparation should include familiarising yourself with each week's "Aim" and content. Spend some time in prayer for the guidance of the Holy Spirit and think through what form the discussion is likely to take. However, please do not feel that you have to "control" what is said!

Note that the times given for various parts of the evening are only given as a guide. They are not prescriptive! The suggested total time for the study is an hour and a half.


Session 2 (first group session)

Spiritual Gifts

Aim:- To introduce Spiritual Gifts

Begin with a short time of quietness, followed by prayer asking for the guidance of God the Holy Spirit. (5 min.) Introduce a discussion on natural gifts and abilities - e.g. an "ear" for music. These are also God given. (10 min.) Read I Corinthians 12 verses 12 - 27. Share in the group the image of the "The Body" with each member functioning as part of the whole. (20 min.)

This should lead naturally into the reading of I Corinthians 12 verses 28 - 31a. Lead a discussion on this list of Gifts.

Ask, "How far can these be regarded as "natural gifts and abilities?".
Ask "Which of the "Gifts" listed here are definitely "Spiritual"?

After some discussion (20 min) move onto the lists of "Spiritual Gifts" in Romans 12 verses 6 - 8 and Ephesians 4 verse 11. Read these verses. Note that in Ephesians 4 verse 11 the "Gifts" are said to be the Gifts of the risen and ascended Lord Jesus Christ.

Look at the lists of Spiritual Gifts in the hand-out.
Discuss which of these may be:- Leadership Gifts; communication Gifts; sign Gifts (that is showing the presence and power of God the Holy Spirit) and practical Gifts. Remember that each and every one of these Gifts is from God, and necessary for the well-being of Christ's Body the Church. (30 min)

Close the meeting with a brief time of Prayer. (5 min.)


Session 3

Discovering our Spiritual Gifts

Aim:- To learn how we can discover our Spiritual Gift(s)

Note:- During this session we are asking group members to to reflect on what Gifts the Lord may have given them. Some may be diffident about sharing. It is important that everyone should have the opportunity to speak but no-one should feel pressurised to do so.
Opening prayer (5 min)

Opening reading – Romans 12 verses 3 – 8
Lead a discussion on these verses especially verses 3 – 6. (15 min)
Note:- In verse 3 Paul asks each one of us to do two things: Firstly, not to overvalue yourself; and secondly to “think with sober judgement . . . what God has assigned to him.”
In verse 6 we are encouraged to reflect on what our Gift is in order that we may take our place in “the Body”.
Look at the “Four Essentials” , dealing with them one at a time. (30min) Remind people that the “proof” of being a Christian is that the person acknowledges that “Jesus is Lord”. I Corinthians 12 verse 3.

Look together at I Tim 4, v.14: II Tim 1, v.6 and II Tim 4 v.5.

Even Timothy needed encouragement to find and use his Gift. (20 min) Some members may not have thought that they have a “Spiritual Gift” and the suggestion may be new to them!

Be sensitive to the feelings of individuals. It is important that all are gently encouraged to think this through.

Look together at the sheet “Reflecting on your Spiritual Gifts”. There are two empty columns on the lists of Gifts. The one headed “YOU” is for your assessment on the scale of A – D. The one headed “OTHERS” is for you to note other peoples assessment of your possible Gift(s) (15min)
Closing time of prayer together (5 – 10 min)


Session 4

What Gifts do we have and how do we use them?

Aim:- To learn how we can use our Spiritual Gifts.

N.B. This is the key session of the course! Next week we will look together at how the use of Gifts can enhance our life as a Church.

Opening prayer (5 min)

Spend some time on feedback from the personal questionaire.
Ask:- Was it helpful?
What have you learnt?
Is there anything that you want to share with the group?
Is there anything that you have found difficult or disturbing? (25 min)
How do we use our “Gifts”?

Lead a discussion on I Corinthians chapter 12. (30 min)

Use the five bullet points to acheive the “Aim” of the session:-

  • Remember the source: ‘There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit.’ (1 Cor 12:4). We can’t boast or be proud, we can only humbly and gratefully receive them as gifts.
  • Develop a right attitude. ‘There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.’ (1 Cor 12:5). Gifts are not about status, but service. Sadly churches are riddled with people seeking status, which is why we must model ourselves on the servant character of Christ.
  • Recognise our dependence on God. ‘There are different kinds of working....’ (1 Cor 12:6). Each gift is given through grace and used in God’s strength. That’s why Paul only ever boasts about his weakness.
  • Focus on the common good (verses 7-11). Gifts are not about self glorification but building the body.
  • Function as a body (verses 12-31). Verses 18-20 are a watershed in this passage. 1 Cor 12:14-16 identify the problem of those who downplay their gifts, verses 21-24 the problem of those who deny others’ gifts. 1 Cor 12:18 -20 stress the interconnectedness of the body, welded together by love. We need everyone to use their gifts if we are to function well as the local church.

Discuss temperament, natural talents, learned skills and life experiences and Spiritual Gifts.
How do they 'fit together' and enhance each other? (20 min)
Closing time of prayer together (5 – 10 min)


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©TWB Countrysidematters 2014
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