Leading People to Discover Jesus

Sitting around the table discussing stories from one of his biographies is a great way of leading people to discover Jesus; who he is and what it means to follow him. We were confronted with a problem. We had a bunch of people open to exploring who Jesus was. They were keen to gather with us around the table our a meal, but what next? Some had never opened a bible in their lives and weren’t sure if Jesus was a historical or a fantasy figure. But they were open to finding out. So we invited a bunch of people around for a meal and a chat as we explored who Jesus was from one of the 4 biographies written about him. Around the table - 1As we met for the meal, we’d talk around the table, checking in on how everyone was going and what was news in their life. Then after the meal, we’d take turns to read from a chapter in one of the gospels. After that we’d get discussion going. “What did you like about what we just read?” “Is there anything that sticks out that you want us to discuss?” “Whats the biggest question you have from the reading?”  Sometimes the discussion went far and wide!  The hardest thing for me was not to pick up on a point and teach, but rather facilitate discussion “Thats a great question! Does anyone have any thoughts on this!” Of course, I could contribute thoughts as well, but only after everyone had had a good chance to bring their perspectives.  Often it was more about encouraging the comments form people who were on the mark and drawing this out, rather than in trying to bring the answers myself. “Thats a great observation! So what’s the implication of this?” When a seeker is exposed to the Jesus we read about in the gospels and then explores what the passage or story says and is stimulated to ask questions, the Holy Spirit teaches and bring awareness and understanding as John 14:26 tells us that “… the Holy Spirit…will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” Around the table - 1 (1)After perhaps an hour of discussion as the evening was drawing to a close, we would always come to the sharp point of application or decision. “Whats the main takeaway you have from tonight?” “What are you going to implement from what we have discussed?” “What decisions have you made as a result of what we’ve discussed?” Then we’d close with prayer, with the prayer linking pack to the discussion we had earlier over the meal, praying specifically for any needs mentioned. The next week over the meal we’d generally ask about these needs and celebrate any answers to prayer. As time went by, I realised that we were doing a number of things.
  • We were introducing the group to pastorally caring for each other.
  • We were demonstrating that God is interested in us and that prayer is powerful.
  • We were praising the God who answers prayer.
  • We were creating a safe place for people to ask questions and explore.
  • We were encouraging people to apply what they had learnt.
  • We were introducing people to Jesus so they could get to discover who he was and is.
  • We were leading people to Jesus by discipling them rather than going for a decision first.
That last point is a biggie. In fact each point is! How can a person truly make a decision to follow a person they don’t know? We wanted to lead people to discover who Jesus was so that a faith decision would be a natural next step. I found that as we were having a great time around the table and developing deep friendships, we were discipling people towards a decision rather than seeking to lead people to make a decision in the hope they would become disciples. So what’s the fruit of looking at the life and person of Jesus in this way? Some have been baptised. Some are soon to get baptised and some are a still on the journey.   To unpack what we do when we get together, there are 3 major components that happen as we provide hospitality and engage in community around the table; Reflection, Discussion and Prayer.   

Reflection simply occurs when we engage with people and ask them questions like:

How are you (pastoral)

  • What do you have to give thanks for? (praise)
  • How did you go with applying what you learnt last time? (accountability)

Discussion takes place as we look at the passage or story starting with reading out the passage / story allowing people to take a paragraph each but without pressuring individuals to read if they aren’t comfortable doing so. Then generate discussion using questions like:

  • What did you like or what gets your attention about the story / passages we just read?
  • What did the main person do?
  • What did Jesus do or say?
  • What will you apply to your life or what decision will you make as a result of what we have just read and discussed?

Prayer takes place as a person finishes by praying for the people in the group and any needs they may have. Pray also that what we have just discussed and decided will be re-enforced in our lives.

Choosing one of the 4 biographies of Jesus found in the New Testament is a great way to introduce people to Jesus.
  • Matthew has lots of detail and was written to prove to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah and so goes into a lot of Old Testament details that were relevant to the Jews, but perhaps not so relevant for a seeker today.
  • Mark is a cut down straight to the point version of Matthew, written to the Roman gentiles, non Jewish people like many today.
  • Luke is a historical view of who Jesus was with lots of stories about the important events in his life.
  • John focuses on the latter part of Jesus life and was written to demonstrate that Jesus is who he says he is; the son of God.
Instead of reading through one of the gospels, another way of leading people to discover Jesus is to focus on a different story about Jesus each time you meet.  I’ve put together a list of 15 discussion topics that provide a pathway to help a person to discover who Jesus is and decide whether they will choose to follow Him. Each study has a major question that can be used in conjunction with the general discussion questions. You can see this list at the bottom of this blog. Toby and carmen's Baptism - 1 (2) My personal preference is now to use the stories I’ve listed rather than going chapter by chapter through a gospel as the stories have been chosen from all four gospels to give an overview of his life, death and resurrection and to each week have a specific focus. Of course, you don’t have to go week by week in the order I’ve listed. Rather go with what is relevant for where the group is at, addressing the major questions that they have. I pray that you will find many who are interested in discovering who Jesus is and that you will have the indescribable privilege of leading many people to discover Jesus. Tim O’Neill 3 January 2020.  
Study  DiscussionStory / PassageKey Question
1The Birth of JesusMatthew 1:18-25, Luke 2:1-20Who do you think Jesus was?
2The Baptism of JesusMatthew 3:13-17Why did Jesus think He needed to get baptised?
3Jesus’ Call To Follow HimMark 2:13-17Who does Jesus call to follow Him?
4Jesus Begins His MinistryMark 1:21-34Why were people so amazed at what Jesus did?
5Jesus Heals The ParalegicLuke 5:17-26What upset the religious leaders about what Jesus did?
6The Parable of The Lost SonLuke 15:11-32What does this story tell us about the love of God?
7Jesus Claims About HimselfJohn 5:19-24Who does Jesus claim to be?
8Jesus Performs MiraclesMatthew 14:13-33Who do you say Jesus was?
9Jesus Heals The SickMatthew 9:18-34What role does faith have in healing?
10Jesus Forgives The Woman Caught In AdulteryJohn 7:53-8:11How does Jesus treat our sins?
11Jesus Washes The Feet Of His DisciplesJohn 13:1-35What does the kind of love Jesus demonstrated look like today?
12Jesus Anointed With PerfumeLuke 7:36-50What does it mean to be forgiven much?
13Jesus Death On The CrossMark 15:21-41Why did Jesus die on the cross?
14The Empty TombJohn 20:1-31How will you respond to the claim that Jesus is the Son of God?
15Jesus Resurrection To Eternal LifeAct1 1:1-9How will you respond to the resurrection of Jesus?

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