(Note for Group Leaders) To make things easier for you, we have combined the Leader and Participant Guides into one. Please remember that we have provided you with too much group content – and that’s on purpose! As the Group Leader, you are free to choose the elements that will help everyone to engage with the message, and leave the rest.

Prepare for Your Group: (10-90 minutes)
• Familiarize yourself with this Group Discussion Guide
• If you missed it, CLICK HERE to watch the weekend sermon
• Read John 5:1-45
• Sit in prayerful silence with God for a while, and then ask the Holy Spirit if there is anything that he wants to do during your Group’s time together.

Opening Prayer: (1-5 minutes)
In light of what God is saying through this week’s message, here’s some suggestions of how your Group can invite God into your time together.

Injured and hurting people gathered around the pool of Bethesda because it was believed to be a place where healing took place. In a place of sickness and isolation, Jesus brought healing and reconciliation. Ask God to make you like him, to show you what you can do in the lives of those who are suffering.

Quick Connection: (5 minutes)
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.”

Large Group Discussion: (30 minutes)
(Note for Group Leaders) There are more questions than you will likely have time to get through. Choose the questions that resonate the most deeply with you and your Group.

This weekend’s message came from John 5:1-45. If everyone has a Bible, let’s go there together.

1. The Pool of Bethesda was a place where some wacky beliefs existed, but it was the only place that broken people could have hope for community and healing. What must our church communities become so that broken people aren’t rejected and marginalized?

2. Is there anything about Jesus’ manner with the man who has been paralyzed that you find striking or intriguing?

3. Prior to Jesus’ arrival, many sick and hurting people did not come to the temple because there was no point – they weren’t allowed to get close to God’s presence. Has that ever described your experience?

4. In the story, we see how the religious establishment cared more about the fact that a rule was broken instead of celebrating the fact that a miracle took place. They ask, “who told you to carry your mat?” This is the wrong question. Why did they ask the wrong question?

5. Sometimes the thought of being healthy and healed scares us as it is usually a process and not usually an easy one. How do you get healed… and remain well?

CLOSING PRAYER (5-15 minutes):
In light of what God is saying through this week’s message, here’s some suggestions of what your Group could talk about with God in prayer.

Pastor Steve spoke about how the religion of Jesus’ time had put up barriers between people and God. Jesus tore those barriers down. Ask God to work through your group to connect marginalized people to the God who loves and heals them.

A disciple of Jesus is a learner, a student, an apprentice, a practitioner – even if they are only a beginner. As disciples, we don’t just profess certain views about what we believe, but as we grow in our understanding of what it means to live as citizens of God’s Kingdom, we find ways to practice the way of Jesus in every aspect of our lives here on earth. All month long, we are practicing the way of Jesus through Solitude & Silence. Here are some examples of how to implement this spiritual habit of Jesus into our everyday lives.

Throughout the Bible, God’s people are urged to “listen” or “hear”, and what followed that was almost always: 1) a reaffirmation of God’s relationship to his people, 2) something he wanted his people to act on, or 3) a promise of something God was going to do for his people, or a mix of the three. What is important to understand is that, for God’s people to really hear what He had to say, they had to be silent. They had to be free from all distractions. Only then could “Hear O Israel… the Lord your God, is one God.” From Abraham to Moses, through the Judges, Prophets and Kings… even the King of all Kings, Jesus, took time to be alone and silent with God – listening for what God would say.

If you have never had this experience of communing with God in Silence and Solitude, set aside some time this week and try being with God without distractions.

Christian author Oswald Chambers wrote: “A wonderful thing about God’s silence is that His stillness is contagious — it gets into you, causing you to become perfectly confident so that you can honestly say, “I know that God has heard me.” His silence is the very proof that He has. As long as you have the idea that God will always bless you in answer to prayer, He will do it, but He will never give you the grace of His silence. If Jesus Christ is bringing you into the understanding that prayer is for the glorifying of His Father, then He will give you the first sign of His intimacy — silence.”

Last week, we shared some methods of finding your solitude: Be intentional about it. Find a time and place that you know you can devote entirely to Him. Do some reflection beforehand as to what you want to seek him on. At the appointed time and place, show up expecting to hear Him… and you will. Even if it is his silence.