PREPARING FOR YOUR GROUP
Homework: (10-90 minutes)
- Familiarize yourself with this Group Study Guide
- If you missed it, CLICK HERE to watch the weekend sermon
- If a certain quote from the sermon resonated with you, consider posting it to Twitter or Instagram. Here’s a sample: We gather to remember, to gain strength, to invite God to prove Himself. #WhyWeGather #cfchurch
- Read Daniel 1:1-20
- Sit in prayerful silence for awhile with God, and then ask the Holy Spirit if there is anything that He wants to do during your Group’s time together.
- We have intentionally provided you with way too much content so that you have plenty of material to work with – choose the elements that are best suited for your group dynamic, and leave the rest.
- Whatever content you choose, follow the order of elements as they appear in this Study Guide – there is an intentional progression that is meant to help your group draw near to God.
BEGIN HERE WITH YOUR GROUP
Next Steps for Group Leaders
Throughout this series, this section will have some leadership next steps to implement in the life of your Group.
(Week 2) God is going to nudge people in your Group about becoming a Community leader. Ask your Group if anyone is feeling called to launch out and create space for others at a different meeting place and time. Ask them how your Group can prepare and support them.
Setting the Tone: (Say Aloud, 1 minute)
Every time we gather, we’ll practice a ground rule, goal, or value as a group. Here’s this week’s Ground Rule: Let’s remember that, for many people, they are taking a big risk when they open up and share with a group of people. During our discussion, let’s be slow to jump in with advice or solutions, and quick to listen well and thank the person who shared.
Focus of this Week’s Message: (Say Aloud, 1 minute)
Daniel and his friends were taken as teenagers into Babylon, where they made decisions that set them apart from the Babylonians, while many of their peers assimilated. They gathered together at meals for many reasons, but primarily to remember who they were as Israelites, to gain strength from each other, and to invite God to prove Himself.
Opening Prayer: (1 minute)
Pray the following prayer for your Group. Make the words your own.
(Pray Aloud) Dear Lord, our Guide and our Savior — You have called us to be set apart, to be holy. You have placed us in a certain culture, a certain neighborhood, a certain group of friends and colleagues. Let us shine with your Spirit, and may the smoke of Babylon not linger on our clothes. May we be in the world but not of the world. Teach us to follow you in the midst of a culture that is largely avoiding and rejecting you. Teach us how you would have us be set apart. Give us the courage to follow you into what you have called us to be and do. Amen
Quick Connection: (Say Aloud, 5 minutes)
Let’s have everyone take 30 seconds each to share a phrase or a moment from this weekend’s message that is still resonating with them. You also have the option to say “Pass.”
Creative Engagement with This Week’s Message: (5 minutes)
The story of the fiery furnace has inspired artists for hundreds of years, from the finest murals to the craftiest Sunday School creations.
Take a look at the following images, and remember that the Babylonian king was surprised to see FOUR people in the fire, although he had only condemned THREE to be thrown in. The fourth person looked like “a son of the gods.” Jesus Himself said that when we gather in His Name, He is there with us. Talk about how a fiery furnace is a surprising place to encounter Jesus, and the significance of God honoring our faithfulness with His Presence.
- The Fiery Furnace – 1
- The Fiery Furnace – 2 (see the first image in the artist’s gallery)
- The Fiery Furnace – 3
Questions for Large Group Discussion (30 minutes):
(Prompt the group) Let’s all have a Bible open and in front of us as we discuss what God is saying to us from this week’s message.
Questions for Basic Understanding:
This part of the group discussion is about gaining a big picture, “lay of the land” view of what’s happening in Scripture.
- Pastor Steve related Babylon to our current culture. What connections do you see between our culture and Babylon?
- What did Daniel and his friends ask for at the beginning of their training in Babylon? (Daniel 1:8-9, 12-14)
- What was the result of their different lifestyle? (Daniel 1:15)
- What were they known for as they established themselves in Babylon? (Daniel 1:17-20)
Questions for Listening to Scripture:
This part of the group discussion is about wrestling with the meaning of what Scripture is saying.
- What was the connection between the teenagers’ diet and the effect on their physiques and minds?
- The resolution of Daniel and his friends would put them in a place of risk and vulnerability. Can you think of other instances in Scripture or in your life when God used a perceived weakness to show His strength? (Consider 1 Corinthians 1:26-28; Exodus 3:4-7, 4:10-12)
- In light of all that would come against Daniel and his friends in a foreign land, why did they need to gather?
- Daniel and his friends resolved not to defile themselves, and God responded by equipping them with knowledge and understanding of the language and literature of the Babylonians, so much so that they were head and shoulders above their peers. This week, how did it help you to remember that God responds to our faithfulness?
Questions for Being Examined by Scripture:
This part of the group discussion is when we ask God how He wants to take these words from the pages of the Story of Scripture, apply them to our hearts and lives, and call us to move on what He is saying to us.
- If you consume everything the Babylonians consume, that makes you Babylonian. So that you are able to remember and retain who God has called you to be, what do you deny yourself?
- Read Daniel 3:14-18. How do you clearly self-identify, on a daily basis, as a follower of Jesus? How can this Community Group challenge each other to live in such a way that we are faithful to God whether or not He comes through for us?
- If there are many parallels between Babylon and our surrounding culture, then what would make the list of reasons for why we need to gather?
- How can your Community Group help you to remain faithful to God in your Babylonian context? Do you need input, courage, a prayer partner, a creative solution, a listening ear? Something else?
Closing Prayer (15 minutes):
If your Group is newly formed, it’s probably best that you are the one who prays. If this time of prayer requires some vulnerability or transparency, be the first to pray so that you set a tone of honesty for everyone else.
Take turns praying for the specific ways that each of you are being called to remain faithful to God in Babylon.