Our Blog

Staying on Topic

Effective group discussions have a carefully chosen topic, and the teacher's role is to keep the discussion on target. The “God's Word for Today” feature of your quarterly is designed to suggest topics for your discussion. You as the teacher certainly can add others, or even develop a totally different set of questions. But conversations that are not guided are the ones most likely to get off the lesson topic. You can ask people to share how they feel about the topic; new information about the topic; concerns they have about the topic; or even personal experiences that directly relate to the topic. Again, limit the time, and feel free to ask the members to summarize how what they have said contributes to the topic. If it doesn't, the members will likely be less inclined to give stray thoughts in the future if they know they may be asked how what they have said contributes to the topic.

Membership in the Church

Lesson 4 - June 25, 2017

Focus Text: Acts 2:38-47; 4:32-35

Central Truth: The Christian lives out his faith in the community of believers.

Objective: By the end of this lesson my students should be able to identify several purposes the church should seek to fulfill.

Lesson Outline:

  1. New Converts (Acts 2:38-41)
  2. The Fellowship of Believers (Acts 2:42-47)
  3. The Sharing of Possessions (Acts 4:32-35)

What causes spiritual blindness?

In "Biblical Perspective" I.C. Holland writes concerning 1 Peter 2:8…

It is no wonder that sightless people stumble. Spiritual blindness is worse than physical. Witness the cases of Fanny Crosby and Helen Keller. The cause of stumbling in verse 8 is identified as being disobedient. Disobedience and unbelief are inseparable Siamese twins. Although there are professed members of the Church who are insincere and substandard, the cause of stumbling is not the fault of the church. It is identified in 2 Corinthians 4:4: “The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not.” The word appointed does not mean that they were foreordained to be lost, but that infinite justice forestated that “the soul that sinneth” shall die. Sinning is volitional. It is a choice.

Source: Building Christian Relationships: Adult Teacher's Insights, page 18.

The Living Stone

In "Biblical Perspective" I.C. Holland writes:

Jesus is that living stone! Though He was rejected by men, He was chosen and approved by the Father who said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased” (Matt. 3:17). The word for stone here is different from the title Jesus gave to Peter. There it was petros, a pebble or field stone. Here it is lithos, meaning a “worked” or shaped stone. The words living and lively indicate activity, growth, and progress, and stone represents permanency. The infantile state discussed in verse 2 has developed from “born” and “grow” to “tasting,” or experiencing, the grace of God in verse 3. Now in verse 4 coming shows further action that leads to built up in verse 5. At this point the figure changes to a spiritual house and holy priesthood, and in Ephesians 2:22 to “a habitation of God through the Spirit.” What a quantum leap! We become not only ministers of Christ, but ministers to Christ! Spiritual work is done by spiritual people.

Source: Building Christian Relationships: Adult Teacher's Insights, page 18.

Is Unity in the Church Possible?

In "God's Word for Today" David Woods writes:

There may be many reasons why local churches do not seek greater unity today. Some are paranoid that working together in the local church and with other like-minded churches in the area will result in everyone being deceived by a one-world false church. Others are so embittered against fellow Christians — in other nearby churches, or even within their local congregation — that they will not allow themselves or others to seek reconciliation and unity. Maybe an even greater difficulty is the inability of many to envision how unity might look in our post-modern context. How is it possible to achieve unity with churches around the world? How can we reconcile our doctrinal and traditional differences with other churches? The key to solving this dilemma may be to ask the question of how to experience greater unity locally instead of in a universal sense.

Source: Building Christian Relationships: Adult Teacher's Insights, page 19.

Group Discussion

It is helpful to know what we are trying to achieve through group discussion. The following may be some helpful goals.

  1. Group discussion gives every person a chance to contribute something to the topic of discussion. Most people have ideas, many of them good. But to give everyone a chance to share, you may need to limit the time each person is given.
  2. Group discussion allows for a variety of ideas and opinions to be shared. You as the teacher may not agree with all of them. Simply thank the person for sharing, highlight something you do agree with if possible, and ask for additional comments.
  3. Group discussion builds a sense of ownership on the part of the group. If the group feels it has had a voice, the members will be much more likely to accept the conclusions.
  4. Group discussion, properly guided, gives the quiet members a chance to be heard.

Source: Snider, Gordon. "Tips for Teachers", The Church: God's People: Adult Teacher's Insights, page 15.

Unity Is Blessed

Read Psalm 133:1-3

“As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore” (v. 3).

A New York family bought a ranch out west hoping to raise cattle. Later a friend asked what they named their ranch. The new rancher answered, “I wanted it to be the Bar-J. My wife wanted it to be the Suzy-Q, one son wanted the Flying-W, and the other the Lazy-Y. We finally de-cided on the Bar-J-Suzy-Q-Flying-W-Lazy-Y. We have only had one problem. None of our cattle survived the branding.”

Sometimes making everybody happy does not mean that you have unity. The Moravian brethren discovered this in the midst of internal conflict in 1747. Count Zinzendorf arranged to have a conference so they could discuss the issues causing the controversy. When the representatives arrived, they did not immediately begin to have debates as they had assumed. Instead, he instructed them to first spend time in prayer and the study of 1 John. By the end of the week, they had realized again that one of the main lessons of the book was “love for all the brethren.” On Sunday they agreed they should observe the Lord's Supper, remembering that being many they were one Body. Compromise or debate would have failed. Looking to God for guidance, they once again became the unified functioning Body of Christ. They now experienced what they had forgotten they cherished — the blessing of unity. Prayer with purpose, submission to God's Word, and a humble spirit brought the blessing of unity to the Moravian brethren. It is time for God's people to use this simple formula today. (L Gayle Woods)

Whereas compromise and debate will usually fail, looking to God for His guidance, the people of God can once again become the unified functioning Body of Christ.

This devotional is the Monday, June 12, 2017 entry of Opening the Word.

The Unity of the Church

Lesson 3 - June 18, 2017

Focus Text: 1 Peter 1:22--2:10

Central Truth: Christians belong to each other because they belong to Christ.

Objective: By the end of this lesson my students should be able to identify ways that unity can be demonstrated.

Lesson Outline:

  1. Children in the Same Family (1 Peter 1:22--2:3)
  2. Stones in the Same Building (1 Peter 2:4-8)
  3. Citizens of the Same Kingdom (1 Peter 2:9, 10)