A Life Changing Church: 5 Bible Studies

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1 A Life Changing Church: 5 Bible Studies NCAChurch Vision Series Bible Studies 1

2 Introduction In 2014 we are relaunching the NCAChurch Vision Document, outlining our vision, values, and ministry plans. In March we will have a 4 week sermon series on our 4 ministry focus areas: Connecting to Proclaim, Equipping to Serve, Resourcing to Grow, and Caring in Community. These 5 Bible Studies complement the sermon series. Some of the studies are based on 1 Thessalonians. This is because the church in Thessalonica is an example of a life changing church. We read about the beginnings of the church in Acts 17. The church came into being through Paul going to the synagogue and reasoning with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead and that this Jesus was the Christ. (17:1-3). Paul was forced to flee Thessalonica because of persecution. He longed to visit to see how this new church was getting on but was unable to. So he sent his co-worker to encourage them. The return of Timothy with news of the church prompted him to write this letter of encouragement. The letter gives further information of Paul s ministry there and an insight into what the church was like. The notable feature is a church grounded in the word of God, made up of people changed by the gospel and impacting the surrounding region. We can learn from the Thessalonian church experience what Connecting to Proclaim looks like and a model for Caring in Community. The other studies cover various Bible passages looking at the themes of Equipping to Serve and Resourcing to Grow. Each study includes some questions to promote further discussion, which is aimed at digging deeper and moving towards application to our context at NCAChurch. There is also some suggestions for prayer to end each study. Leaders might consider supplementing the studies with other resources available at church or downloadable at These include: NCAChuch Vision Document (2014 Revision) iserve Document NCAChurch Giving Guide NCAC Vision Series 2011 (4 studies) Gospel Guided Giving (3 studies) Connecting to Proclaim (6 studies on Luke) See also the brief leader s notes in the appendix. 2

3 Vision Series Bible Study 1: Life Changing Church Introduction: What do you think the characteristics of a life changing church should be? Read 1 Thessalonians 1: List some of the characteristics of the church in Thessalonica. 2. What are some of the factors that led to the establishment and growth of the church there? 3. How did the Thessalonians respond to the gospel in thinking and behaviour? Digging deeper: 4. What is the significance of the church being in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ? (1) 5. How does faith, hope and love, contribute to Christian living? (3) 6. What is the role of the Holy Spirit in bringing about change? (4-6) 7. What idols does contemporary Australians need to turn from? 8. How is Jesus described? (10) Further discussion: NCAChurch has come up with the following vision statement: A life changing church Taking up Christ s mission in our generation Marked by repentance and faith in Christ Jesus Renewed by God s Holy Spirit through the Bible Sent to pioneer local and far reaching mission To the glory of God alone 9. What is needed for us to be a life changing church? 10. How can your group take up Christ s mission to this generation? 11. What things do you think, we as a church, need to repent of? Prayer: Spend some time praying about the year ahead and for each other. 3

4 Vision Series Bible Study 2: Connecting to Proclaim Introduction: Consider the following statement from NCAChurch core ministry values: We believe the good news about Jesus Christ is not simply for private consumption. We understand the gospel to be the power of God for the salvation of all who believe. And so, displaying creativity and boldness, and characterised by gentleness and respect, we will make it our aim to communicate this message of good news to all people. Why do we emphasise the importance of proclaiming the gospel? Read 1 Thessalonians 2: What did Paul do in Thessalonica? (See also Acts 17:1-4) 2. What was the context of Paul s ministry? 3. What do we learn from the way Paul related to those he ministered to? Why is this important? Digging deeper: 4. What might, sharing our lives look like in our context? 5. What situations are you tempted to please men? How might this affect your ability to connect to proclaim? 6. How important is speaking the gospel? Further discussion: Leading up to Easter we will join with other churches in Sydney in the Jesus Brings mission. At NCAChurch we will be running special events and guest services to invite your friends to, so that they can hear and respond to the great news about Jesus. Consider who you would like to invite. List them and begin praying for them: What do you need to do to connect with and build relationships with more non-christians? Discuss a group event that you might be able to host to invite these friends to. Prayer Pray about the Jesus Brings Mission 4

5 Vision Bible Study 3: Equipping to Serve Introduction How would you finish off this sentence The Christian life is? Read Mark 10: How does Jesus sum up his life mission? How are we to live in response? 2. What do the following verses teach about the Christian life? Bible Passage Romans 12:1-2 Christian Life Ephesians 2:10 Romans 6:18 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 Read Ephesians 4: What does God do to prepare his people for works of service? Considering that apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teacher all deal with God s word, what is the role of the Bible in equipping God s people? What is the purpose and goal of service within the body of Christ? What role do we have in building up the body? Read 1 Peter 4: What do these verses teach about using various gifts? For further discussion: What service needs and opportunities are there in your congregation and across NCAChurch? (Use iserve document as a guide.) How can you be equipped to serve in these areas? How can you be involved in equipping others? Prayer Pray for the many ministries across NCAChurch 5

6 Vision Bible Study 4: Resourcing to Grow Introduction It is significant that Jesus parables often referred to growth (Mark 4:1-35). It is expected that though it starts like a small seed, the Kingdom of God will grow to be like a large tree. Acts records the beginning of the geographical growth of the gospel from Jerusalem, through Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Paul made his plans in line with his desire to see the gospel preached in new areas (Romans 15:14-29). It is our desire to also be a church in which the gospel grows, both in the lives of those who attend NCAChurch, and in its impact on the community around us and indeed throughout the world. The church in Thessalonica is a model church in this regard (1 Thessalonians 1:7-8). We can also learn about growth from Paul s letter to the Colossians, and the importance of resourcing for growth from Philippians. Read Colossians 1: How does Paul describe the gospel in these verses? How did the gospel reach the Colossae? What impact did the gospel have upon the Colossians? Read Philippians 4: In chapter 1, Paul thanks God for the partnership in the gospel that he shares with the Philippians (1:15). From chapter 4, what do we learn about this partnership? How did the Philippians show their concern for Paul? (see also 2:25) Further Discussion What areas of gospel growth have we seen at NCAChurch over the last 10 years? What are the areas of potential gospel growth for 2014 and beyond? Giving is a gospel issue. Discuss this statement. What does it mean to be a partner in the gospel at NCAChurch? Further resources: NCAChurch Vision Document NCAChurch Giving Guide NCAChurch Bible study on Giving Prayer Spend some time praying about NCAChurch ministry plans and about church finances. 6

7 Vision Bible Study 5: Caring in Community Introduction: Despite the erosion of community in contemporary society, people crave a sense of belonging. Church is one of the few places left that function as a community. From your experiences of church, what is attractive about being part of a Christian community? Paul s letter to the Thessalonians gives an insight into how Christians might care for one another. We see the example of Paul s relationship to the Thessalonian believers, and his instructions about how they should relate to one another. Read 1 Thessalonians 2:17-3:13 1. How does Paul show his care for the Christians in Thessalonica? 2. What is he mostly concerned for them? What does Paul pray about for them? What does this suggest about the goal for our care for one another? Read 1 Thessalonians 4: What and how have the Thessalonians been taught about loving one another? Further discussion In 4:18 Paul says, Therefore encourage each other with these words. The particular words in this case refer to his teaching on the second coming of Christ (4:12-17). A similar pattern occurs in 5:1-11, where Paul urges them to encourage one another and build each other up based on what he teaches them about the second coming. Paul himself cared for the Thessalonians through his words, encouraging, comforting and urging them to live lives worthy of God. (2:12). 4. How does sharing God s word to one another contribute caring in community? How might we apply the principle of caring through sharing to our context at NCAChurch? 5. How might we love one another more and more at NCAChurch. Think practically and be specific. Prayer: For those in need in our church family and in the wider community. 7

8 Appendix Leader s Notes This series includes an introductory one based on the updated NCAChurch Vision Statement, and 4 studies on the 4 focus areas: Connecting to Proclaim, Equipping to Serve, Resourcing to Grow, Caring in Community. Studies 1, 2, and 5 are based on passages from 1 Thessalonians (see introduction). Studies 3 and 4 cover a few passages. As thematic studies, the aim is to stimulate thinking around the topic. You may need to do a bit of work to confirm the context of the various passages suggested for discussion. Since the Thessalonian church is being studied as a model of a life-changing church, try to become familiar with its content. Some of the vocabulary of the letter is reflected in our vision statement (e.g. repentance 1:9-10). Also note the references to word ministry (e.g. 2:2, 13), the role of the Holy Spirit (1:5-6), far reaching mission (1:8), and lives changed (2:8, 4:1. 3). The task is to stir one another on in our commitment to the Lord Jesus; not some human vision. But one application of this commitment is in our partnership in these 4 ministry focus areas. Hopefully there will be a new vision document to accompany these studies. See also the other resources listed in the introduction. You might want to look deeper into one or more of the focus areas at a later date. There is a series of 6 Connecting to Proclaim Bible Studies that would be suitable in preparation for some evangelism later in the year. Become familiar with the Jesus Brings mission leading up to Easter, and in August. The Caring in Community focus area is new. It would be great to do some more thinking in this area. Be aware of current pastoral care structures that are operating in your congregation, eg. Connector network at Cammeray (see Mike and Anne Law), and CareNet at Naremburn (see Matt Lemsing). Pray that these studies will help us to be united in mission around the gospel and to grow in our love for one another in Christ, to the glory of God. 8

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