Discussion-based Lessons

Discussion-based Lessons

Discussion-based lessons have groups talking and changing. We are changed more by what we say than what we hear. "Instead SPEAKING the truth (not just hearing the truth) we will grow." Ephesians 4.15 https://www.youtube.com/embed/lduldVUA8-4

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WHAT WILL WE be doing in eternity?

WHAT WILL WE be doing in eternity?

WHAT WILL WE be doing in eternity? We won’t be evangelizing, because we will only be in the company of the redeemed. We won’t be discipling because all the redeemed will have been conformed perfectly to the likeness of Christ. In fact, every Christian activity in this...

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God’s Purpose in Detours

God’s Purpose in Detours

As Joseph matured through his detour over time, he eventually saw the hand of God guiding and directing it all. He didn’t say that the Ishmaelite slave traders took him to Egypt years later when he reflected on where he was. He said God brought him to that place....

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How to defeat your enemy

How to defeat your enemy

You have a spiritual enemy who is coming for you. Go back and read that sentence again, because it is horrifying. We like to ignore the idea of the devil or make Satan into a fictional character in a red suit we can joke about. But he is real. And he is coming for...

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How pain changes us

How pain changes us

Our natural instincts tell us that the way forward in the Christian life is by avoiding pain so that, undistracted, we can get down to the business at hand of growing in Christ. The New Testament tells us again and again, however, that pain is a means, not an...

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When you don’t know what to do

When you don’t know what to do

Maybe you deal with anxiety by going into control mode. If I asked you to tell me specifically what causes you anxiety, what isn’t working in your life, what would you say? Chances are many of you wouldn’t point to circumstances or mention a situation; rather, you’d...

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The Dechurched: What THEY said would bring the back

The Dechurched: What THEY said would bring the back

Belonging (or lack thereof) is the primary pain point many dechurched feel. Of all the things people said would make them likely to return, this is the greatest felt need. We asked two vital questions to understand the animating concerns of the dechurched: What made...

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You cannot grow alone

You cannot grow alone

To this point we have been reflecting on what happens between God and me in fostering growth. But to these vertical realities we must join the horizontal. A Christian is connected not only up, to God, but also out, to other Christians. An independent Christian is a...

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Busyness is the enemy of connection

Busyness is the enemy of connection

The UCLA study found that very few people had any unstructured time. In only one of the thirty-two families did a father regularly take an evening walk with his family. Five of the families were never in the same room at one time. The conclusion: these busy families...

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The goal of spiritual growth

The goal of spiritual growth

THE GOAL OF our spiritual growth is to become more and more like Jesus (see Romans 8:29). We tend to think of this as becoming more like Him in His character, but we need to remember that Jesus came to work—to do the will of the Father. On the eve of His crucifixion,...

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God’s waiting room

God’s waiting room

I know what it is like to wait on a vision. Having been in ministry for more than four decades, I’ve had my fair share of the Lord giving me a dream I felt was from Him, only to have it derailed for lengths of time. Even as I write this book, I am in the midst of one...

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Changed more by what we say than what we hear

Changed more by what we say than what we hear

Jesus taught that we are changed as much by what we say as what we hear. Mark 7:15 (NIV) “Nothing outside a man can make him ‘unclean’ by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him ‘unclean.’ ” “What comes out of a man”—what a man speaks is...

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The power of pre-decision

The power of pre-decision

If you were to start applying everything we have discussed so far in making pre-decisions, how might that positively affect your life? Here are three immediate benefits: 1. Pre-Deciding Reduces the Number of Decisions to Make Pre-deciding combats feeling overwhelmed...

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Sanctification by justification

Sanctification by justification

We grow in Christ as we go deeper into, rather than moving on from, the verdict of acquittal that got us into Christ in the first place. It is common in some quarters of the church to think that the message of the gospel initiates us into the Christian life, and then...

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Shadow Christians do the dirty work.

Shadow Christians do the dirty work.

Someone has to change nasty diapers and clean up vomit. When our children were younger, we had our share of handling both eruptions. My wife is a supermom (and an early childhood education specialist) who loves preschool children and probably knows as much about them...

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Worn out? Confused? Afraid

Worn out? Confused? Afraid

if you’re worn-out, confused, afraid, or a bit paranoid about what others are saying about you; if you’re angry, bitter, lonely, or misunderstood; when your anger makes it clear that your way isn’t working, I urge you to ask yourself a vital question: Am I humble...

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Famous Last Words

Famous Last Words

For every person, there will come a last meal, a last breath, and of course, a last statement. And in many ways, what we say in the end is a real insight into what we were in life, what we stood for, and indeed what we lived for. Generally, we die as we have lived. I...

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Thinking deeply about the love of Christ

Thinking deeply about the love of Christ

The first three chapters have primarily been laying the foundation—Jesus Christ’s fullness (chap. 1), our emptiness (chap. 2), and our union with him (chap. 3). Now we begin to get into the actual dynamics by which believers change. We begin with the love of God. My...

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The surprising orthodoxy of the dechurched

The surprising orthodoxy of the dechurched

Early in our research, it was disorienting to realize how orthodox the dechurched still are in their beliefs. This brought equal parts hope and confusion. Sixty-eight percent of dechurched evangelicals (DE), 69 percent of dechurched mainliners (DM), and 63 percent of...

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Preach the gospel to yourself every day

Preach the gospel to yourself every day

This then is the gospel with which we need to become thoroughly familiar and that we need to preach to ourselves every day. Jesus by His death and shed blood completely satisfied the justice of God and the claims of His broken law. By His perfect obedience He...

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The vital importance of union with Christ

The vital importance of union with Christ

We have sharpened our vision of who Jesus is. And we have established the ongoing salutary reality of self-despair and collapsing in penitent faith time and again into the arms of that Jesus. But does this Jesus remain at a distance? How do we actually access him?...

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Why so many detours?

Why so many detours?

Detours are delays. They are rerouted paths that keep us from our original route. Detours pop up in places we had not expected. When we get in our cars, we do so with a destination in mind. We plan to go somewhere. And we typically know how we plan to get there—which...

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Decide now what you will do later.

Decide now what you will do later.

Look at the heroes of our faith throughout the Bible. In Genesis 22, God told Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. Um, no one is going to decide to do that in the moment. But in the past Abraham had pre-decided, My God is always trustworthy, so whatever he asks me to...

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The way forward is backward

The way forward is backward

There is a strange though consistent message throughout the Bible. We are told time and again that the way forward will feel like we’re going backward. The Psalms tell us that those whose hearts are breaking and who feel crushed by life are the people God is closest...

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Dealing with discouragement

Dealing with discouragement

Hannah’s discouragement leads to desperation, and in her desperation, she cries out to God. Remember, we’ve said that our emotions move us somewhere. In this case, Hannah allows her discouragement to drive her to connection. We can read her prayer for connection: “O...

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Becoming tender like tender Jesus

Becoming tender like tender Jesus

This is a book about growing in Christ. The first thing to get clear, then, is what Jesus Christ himself is like. Our growth is not independent personal improvement. It is growth in Christ. Who then is he? The temptation for many of us at this point is to assume we...

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Discover your destiny

Discover your destiny

Millions of people loved the television show Seinfeld when it aired. A college drama department did a study to find out why Seinfeld was so popular. They determined that the reason was because of its plotless programming. Seinfeld just meandered haplessly from one...

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Trusting God when it hurts

Trusting God when it hurts

ALL OF US face adversity in various forms and at different times. As someone has said so well, “Life is difficult.” I would go further. I would say life is often painful. Life often hurts. Nothing I say in this chapter is intended to make light of our pain. I simply...

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How do Christians grow?

How do Christians grow?

How do Christians grow? The question itself immediately elicits different feelings among us. Some of us feel guilt. We’re not growing, and we know it. And the guilt is itself self-perpetuating, further paralyzing us in spiritual stagnation. For others of us, longing...

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Think Ahead

Think Ahead

The Sum of Your Life It’s safe to say that life is the sum of the decisions we make. Why? Because a successful life is based not on a few big decisions made at a few big moments but on thousands of normal decisions made at thousands of normal moments. As James Clear...

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Step #1 when your way is not working

Step #1 when your way is not working

A journey to deep connection with Jesus begins with humble submission. It requires an acknowledgment that your way isn’t working. Admitting this to yourself is hard enough. Try it. Read this out loud: My way isn’t working. If your way was working, would you regularly...

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The Dechurched are not atheists

The Dechurched are not atheists

When social scientists think about religion, they typically categorize religiosity in three ways: behavior, belief, and belonging. Behavior is measured through things like church attendance or amount of offering donated to a religious organization. Belief is assessed...

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I’m Wondering… What if every group used Meetup?

I’m Wondering… What if every group used Meetup?

Here is what I know… The gospel nearly always spreads on the rails of relationships. If you want to check this, just ask. Next time you are in a group, ask for a show of hands. “How many of you came to faith in Christ primarily through the influence of friend or...

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I am wondering if this would help to reverse the decline

I am wondering if this would help to reverse the decline

Membership down by 20% Worship attendance down by 39% Group attendance down by 45% Baptism down by 58% Wow. Let those number sink in. I got to thinking, “What happened in the decade surrounding 2005? There could be a number of answers to this question and Southern...

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When Your Way Isn’t Working

When Your Way Isn’t Working

Are you feeling stuck in a cycle of ineffective patterns and searching for a way to break free? Look no further! Dive into the profound insights of Kyle Idleman's transformative book, "When Your Way Isn't Working," in our engaging and enlightening Bible study series....

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The practice of godliness

The practice of godliness

IF I HAD to choose one word to summarize all the marks of a mature Christian, it would be the word godly. There is no higher compliment that can be paid to a Christian than to call him a godly person. He might be a conscientious parent, a zealous church worker, a...

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Shadow Christians are valued by God.

Shadow Christians are valued by God.

Some ideas explode in our minds and shape our behavior for a lifetime. It happened to me in a seminary classroom almost forty years ago. The professor said three words, “Theology informs practice.” That simple sentence summarized the most consequential lesson from my...

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The Great Dechurching & reasons for hope

The Great Dechurching & reasons for hope

As our data poured in on the Great Dechurching, one truth became increasingly clear: what looks like defeat to many could really be the beginning of something special. Tens of millions of people may be leaving the church, and more than eighty-six churches may be...

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Reversing the Downward Trend

Reversing the Downward Trend

I don’t keep up with denominational trends much. About once a decade I pull my head out of my own work and take a look at the bigger picture. I was shocked at what I recently discovered. Have you seen this? (All data from...

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Jesus wants to know you intimately

Jesus wants to know you intimately

Shadow Christians are Christians, meaning they have become followers of Jesus Christ and adopted his identity as their own. His name means more than our names and much more than nationalities, ethnic backgrounds, or any cultural affinity. Believers aren’t hyphenated...

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Shadow Christans

Shadow Christans

My study of characters in the biblical shadows, unnamed but incredibly significant, led me to two important conclusions: God chooses and uses shadow Christians. He relates to them intimately and tenderly, places high value on their anonymous contributions, and uses...

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Train yourself to be godly

Train yourself to be godly

In 1 Timothy 4:7, Paul exhorted Timothy to “train yourself to be godly.” The word train Paul used is a word from the athletic arena, a word used to describe the training activity of young men as they prepared themselves to compete in the athletic games of that day....

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Sunday School University

For nearly thirty years, Dr. Bill Tolar and Dr. Brian Harbour have helped thousands of Sunday School teachers prepare their lessons by means of video.  Each week, they  provide an insightful walk through this week's scriptures and provide concrete Bible-to-life application points for you to make with your class this Sunday.  Their video lesson previews are available for both the Life and Explore Series materials. We have arranged a special one-month free trial of their videos for anyone who mentions joshhunt.com.  Click here for more information or to get your free trial.

Josh Hunt believes in the power of the small group ministry in your church. And, his belief is contagious. In his new book, Make Your Group Grow, Josh presents sound application to easy to understand research that will benefit every size and style of church. Your groups and leadership will benefit from this book.

Ed Stetzer,
President of
LifeWay Research, www.edstetzer.com

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