Week 1: "Loving the Church Means Loving People"
Study / Discussion Questions
Study / Discussion Questions
Primary Verses for Study:
(John 13:34-35 NKJV) 34 "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
Guiding Thought/Central Truth
Jesus' command to us as Christians is that all of our interactions must be bathed in love. How do our actions project love to one another and our church, and how will the love we have for those in our church affect the way we interact with our world?
You will need a note card and a pen. As you start your time together, right down:
- Your name
- How long you have been attending the church?
- The reason you decided to attend this Bible study
- What is most meaningful to you out of these choices: a special gift, time with a friend, a kind word, a big hug, or an unexpected Helping Hand?
As you go around the group, each person should tell what's on their card. Now everyone switch cards.
The group has shared the expressions of love that are most meaningful to them. As you pray throughout the week for the person on the card you were given, consider extending an expression of love to them. You can follow through with the small gesture that they listed as meaningful to them or ask God to show you another way to demonstrate love to them.
Our church has never been about the building where we meet or the programs that we conduct or even how great the preaching and singing are, but it's about the people who gather together there. It's about us. Over the next five weeks, we will be focusing on how we as a group of believers can love our church more. How can we meet the needs of the individuals in this group and in this conversation? What does it look like to the community around us when we love each other the way that Jesus loves us?
Think it Through
Read John 13:34 - 35
When you are telling someone goodbye, the things that you say in your last moments together are important. You want them to be remembered. Jesus spoke the words and John 13:34-35 hours before his death. He challenged the people in the church to love one another.
- Who is Jesus speaking to in these verses?
- What do you think the significance is of Jesus making this new commandment?
- According to these verses, what is the impact of having love for one another?
- Tell about a time when someone unexpectedly extended kindness to you.
- In your opinion, what kind of gestures show love to family members? Friends? Acquaintances? Strangers?
- In which category would you put most of the people in your church: family, friends, acquaintances, or strangers?
Sometimes it's difficult to connect with people at church. When you only see each other one or two hours a week, it can be hard to know people, much less love them. Sometimes past hurts and dissension make it difficult to love our church. Yet, Jesus still commands it. It was his intent that our love for each other be so obvious that it would be the marker that identifies us as belonging to him.
- What do you think prevents people in the church from expressing love to each other?
- What advice would you give someone who wants to overcome these obstacles?
- What effect does a congregation's behavior have on people who do not attend that church?
Loving one another is risky. It can get personal. It can make us vulnerable. It can also give us insight into our Christian walk, provide opportunities to serve, and open us up to irreplaceable friendships. Jesus commanded it for us. And by our love for one another, the world will know Jesus’ love for them.
How does this apply to me?
- What is the biggest obstacle you personally need to overcome in order to show love to people in this church?
- What steps are you willing to take to overcome that obstacle?
How does this apply to our church?
- If half of the people in the small group decided to extend an act of Love within our church this week, how would it affect the congregation? How would it affect the congregation if they committed to an act of love every week for a month?
- What steps can we take to make our church renowned for its love?
What am I going to do with what I know now?
Take a moment to pray and ask God to bring to mind one person in your church. If you know the person's name, write it down on a piece of paper. If not, right down a few words describing the person. Now ask God to show you one way that you can love that person this week. He may give you something simple like pray for them every day, or He may give you something riskier like meeting a need they have.