LIFE GROUP LEADER GUIDE
For the week of September 24, 2023
This guide is designed to give helpful hints in preparing & leading your group in discussion.
BEGIN TO MAKE PLANS FOR YOUR SOCIAL & SERVICE PROJECT
In-person Social Ideas: lifegroups.northcoastchurch.com/suggestions-for-socials/
Online Social Ideas: lifegroups.northcoastchurch.com/group-socials/
It typically works well to plan your social for the same time your group meets.
Begin to think about what service project you would like to do. Check the website for some options: northcoastcommunityservice.org
LIFE GROUP COMMITMENT
If you didn’t go over this last week, make sure you take time to go over the Commitment Form this week or review what you talked about with anyone who missed the first week. Listen to this week’s podcast for more details and access the form here.
Reach out to people who missed last week.
SPECIAL NOTE ABOUT WEEK #2
Remember we’re on week two of the quarter. People are still acclimating, especially any new people. Lead your group through the questions according to how well everyone knows each other. There are plenty of questions in this guide to take you deeper. And remember, as a leader, your goal each meeting is to lead your group in such a way that you hear from everyone and keep God’s Word at the center. Know that if you do this each week, the people in your group will grow! Remember you don’t need to cover all the questions. Great conversation and connection are far more important than covering all the questions.
Check out the Tips on Group Prayer at the end of this Leader’s Guide. If you have new people in your group, please make sure you go over this. And NEVER make someone pray. Group prayer is similar to public speaking, which is the #1 fear people have. More than once, we’ve had people tell us they quit a Life Group because a well-intentioned leader required everyone to pray.
Submit your group’s attendance online at northcoastchurch.com/attendance. If you’re not sure how to post attendance, you can check out the guide here: lifegroups.northcoastchurch.com/how-to-post-attendance
Check out our Tips and Tutorials for Online Groups here: lifegroups.northcoastchurch.com/pro-tips/
1. Jesus tells the disciples an important part of the plan in this weekend’s passage. Are you someone who likes to go with the flow or know the plan ahead of time?
Have fun learning the different personalities of the people in your group. If you are a group that’s been together a long time, maybe have everyone guess or vote what type they think each person is.
2. This weekend, we talked about how Jesus promised that our grief will be turned into joy later. Can you think of some things in life that are painful but pay off later?
Examples: exercising or working out, practicing or learning something new, giving birth to a child, physical therapy, resolving conflict, getting a degree, any sort of difficult decisions that are the best thing for you, etc.
How can these ideas relate to the lessons from this weekend’s message?
Quick Review: Looking back at your notes from this week’s teaching, was there anything you heard for the first time or something that caught your attention, challenged, or confused you?
Larry unpacked the truth about heartache, grief, pain, and suffering, noting that it’s normal to be confused when God is at work. Let’s take a look at a story that captures this.
When the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk cried out to God asking why He wasn’t punishing the sinful nation of Judah, God responded in a way Habakkuk did not expect—with the news that He would raise up an enemy nation to punish them. Read the story in Habakkuk 1:1-6.
Habakkuk 1:1-6 New International Version (NIV)
1 The prophecy that Habakkuk the prophet received.
2 How long, Lord, must I call for help,
but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
but you do not save?
3 Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and conflict abounds.
4 Therefore the law is paralyzed,
and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
so that justice is perverted.
The Lord’s Answer
5 “Look at the nations and watch—
and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days
that you would not believe,
even if you were told.
6 I am raising up the Babylonians,
that ruthless and impetuous people,
who sweep across the whole earth
to seize dwellings not their own.
Discussion Note: While this passage is talking about a nation, the discussion questions are designed to focus our answers on things in our own individual lives, not our nation. If people in your group get off track, as a leader, guide them back to that focus.
Note: These answers can go as deep or as simple as people want them to. There may be heartache, grief, pain, and suffering that comes up, but the questions also don’t require intense vulnerability. Use your best judgment as a leader to guide your group discussion in a level of vulnerability that reflects how well you know each other and the trust you’ve built in the time you’ve spent together as a group.
1. Habakkuk is not the only person in Scripture to ask how long God would take to respond to something. Have you ever been in a situation where it felt like God was delayed in answering you? If so, how did you respond during that time? Looking back, do you wish you would have responded any differently?
- Is there anything you are grateful for about God’s delayed timing in that situation?
- Can you think of anything that would have helped you respond better?
- Why do you think God often works on a different timeline than we desire?
2. God’s answer confuses Habakkuk, which we see later. Larry talked about how this is normal because God’s ways are not our ways. Have you ever been surprised by something God has done in your life? What did it teach you about Him? What did it teach you about yourself?
- Sometimes God’s surprises are pleasant and sometimes they’re just downright hard and confusing. Overall, God sees a bigger picture than we do. How do you encourage yourself to take a step back and look at the bigger picture when what’s in front of you doesn’t make sense?
- How do you respond when you are confused or surprised by something God is doing?
3. Larry mentioned sometimes the bad guys win for a while, and joy often comes “later.” We see this in Habakkuk. Take a look at God’s response in Habakkuk 2:3. How would you encourage a friend to wait when “later” isn’t here yet? What would you say to them?
Habakkuk 2:3 New International Version (NIV)
3 For the revelation awaits an appointed time;
it speaks of the end
and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it;
it will certainly come
and will not delay.
Additional Question: Has anyone ever encouraged you in this or given you wise advice you hold onto?
4. Larry pointed out our faith is often weaker than we think, but it is shown when we do what God says even though we don’t think it will work. Read Habakkuk’s final words in 3:17-19. Are there any ways you remind yourself that you can trust God?
Habakkuk 3:17-19 New International Version (NIV)
17 Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.
For the director of music. On my stringed instruments.
As a group, you can brainstorm a list of ways/reminders. Sometimes it helps to start by identifying the fear you are facing in a specific situation and ask, “What does God, His character or Scripture tell me about this fear?” or “What would God want me to remember in this situation?” If it helps, maybe have your group identify times when it is hard to trust God and think about how they have been able to trust God in those times.
- Do you think some people are naturally more trusting of God or better at having faith when He is doing something they don’t understand? Do you think people learn to be better at this overtime as they grow their relationship with Jesus? How?
- Do you know anybody who has navigated hard times really well? What is it about them or how they responded that stands out to you?
Read the following verses Larry shared with us this weekend. Is there one you want to store in your memory bank for this week or this season?
Proverbs 3:5-6 New International Version (NIV)
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Isaiah 55:8-9 New International Version (NIV)
8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Romans 8:28 New International Version (NIV)
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
1 Peter 1:6-7 New International Version (NIV)
6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
Do you have any prayer requests regarding this weekend’s message or for you personally?
Prayer Transition and Optional Question: The #1 fear most people have is speaking in public. Group prayer would fall into this category. If you have new people in your group, going over “Tips on Group Prayer” (below) is crucial. In most cases, it’s also a good reminder for returning group members. More than once, we’ve had people tell us they quit a Life Group or didn’t join a group because they had to pray out loud.
Additional Question (An important one for new groups): Prayer is an amazing avenue God has given us to communicate with Him and He with us, but we also come to it with a lot of different thoughts and feelings. Which of the following statements are most true for you?
|TIPS ON GROUP PRAYER|
|Prayer is an important part of being in a Life Group. Over the years, we’ve found that group prayer goes better when we follow three simple guidelines.
WE PRAY FOR ONE TOPIC AT A TIME – Anyone in the group is free to introduce a prayer request, either before prayer begins or during the prayer time. Once a topic is introduced, the group focuses on that request alone. Once it’s covered, the group moves on to the next topic.
PRAY MORE THAN ONCE – Because the group is focusing on one topic at a time, each person is encouraged to pray several times during the prayer time for those topics they feel most led to pray about. No one is required to pray.
WE KEEP OUR PRAYERS SHORT AND SIMPLE – Group prayer goes better when members keep their prayers short and to the point. When someone prays for a long time, it’s hard for the other members to stay focused and long prayers tend to intimidate those who are just learning to pray out loud in a group. No one is required to pray out loud.