Explore - Week 1

The Bible

We are so glad you took the step to be a part of an Explore Group. This group is going to give you a glimpse into what CoreGroups at The Gathering are like. We will meet for 4 weeks, but it is our hope that as a group or as individuals you will continue to participate in small groups. We will talk more about that in the weeks to come, but just know that we hope this is the beginning of your journey with small groups.

Overview of Explore
  • The Bible
  • Jesus
  • The Church
  • The Gathering

Group guidelines:
  • This group is a nonjudgmental space. 
  • We will all be active participants in our discussions.
  • We will create space for others to share.
  • What happens in Explore Group stays in Explore Group.

Get to know each other:
Tell us the story of your name.
First, middle, or last, what is something interesting, unique, or notable about your name?

Quick Overview of Podcast (Notes)
What do we believe about the Bible?
  1. It is inspired by God.
The Holy Spirit was present in the process of the writing of the Bible. We learn things about God through these words that we can’t learn anywhere else.
  1. It is relevant to our lives.
The Bible teaches us things that help us improve our lives. It is useful for revealing mistakes, teaching us lessons, and training our character.
  1. It is alive and active.
The Holy Spirit inspires those who read scripture. When we read it God can use it to change and shape us.

The Bible contains 66 books and a variety of different genres of writing. The Old Testament tells the story of the Jewish people before Jesus, and the New Testament tells the story of Jesus’ life and the early church.

How do I start reading the Bible?
  • Get an easy to read version of the Bible. We recommend the Common English Bible (CEB), New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) or New International Version (NIV). Bibles are available for free at any of our sites.
  • Use a reading plan. The YouVersion Bible app has a large library of plans. You can Google reading plans for a particular topic. Or you can listen to the Bible on audio. 
  • Stick with it. You may not understand everything you read in the Bible, that’s ok! You can read it to meditate on the words and find encouragement. 

Discussion questions:
  1. Matt Shared that there are typically two extremes when it comes to thinking about The Bible. The Bible is just another book and the Bible is the inerrant word of God. How would you describe your view of the Bible? 

Read aloud 2 Timothy 3:16-17
“Every scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for showing mistakes, for correcting, and for training character, so that the person who belongs to God can be equipped to do everything that is good.”

  1. According to this passage scripture is inspired by God, useful and relevant, and alive and active. Which of these truths about scripture is most encouraging to you? 
  2. The Bible is made up of a variety of different genres of writing. How does that impact the way you approach the Bible?
  3. Did Matt convince you to engage or re-engage the practice of regularly reading the BIble? 

    1. What thoughts do you have about reading the Bible daily? 
    2. What’s exciting and/or intimidating about this idea?
  4. What questions do you still have about the Bible? (introduce question Google document)

Taking it further:
Lectio Divina
An excellent way to begin reading the Bible is through Lectio Divina. It can be as simple as reading a bit of scripture and looking for a word or phrase that jumps out to you. Or you can follow a longer process of reading and meditating on what you’ve read. Tonight we are going to begin by reading this scripture together. I challenge you to read it every day this week and meditate on what God is saying to you through it.

Hebrews 10:24-25
“And let us consider each other carefully for the purpose of sparking love and good deeds. Don’t stop meeting together with other believers, which some people have gotten into the habit of doing. Instead, encourage each other, especially as you see the day drawing near.”

How to practice Lectio Divina
Reading in the quest for God (or reading for holiness) is what has traditionally been called Lectio Divina. Through lectio divina, the mingling of reading and prayer, the stories and texts of the Bible meet us in our own life story. Each text holds a personal message for us. Right now, in this moment and in this place, God has something to say to us.

Lectio (reading): Turn to a scripture text of no more than ten to fifteen verses. Read the passage (aloud if possible) slowly.

Meditation: Linger over the text for as long as you wish. In silence, identify and recall the word, phrase, sentence, or idea that most caught your attention, and reflect on it for five minutes or longer. Ponder and rest in it.

Lectio: Read the passage again (aloud if possible).

Meditation: Ask yourself, Why does this passage touch my life, my community, my nation, or my world today? Pause again to reflect for five minutes or longer.

Lectio: Read the passage again for the third and final time.

Contemplation: Ask yourself, From the passage I have read and reflected upon, what does God want me to do or be? How does God invite me to change? Pause for five minutes or longer to contemplate. What personal message is God sending you? Ruminate on it, and ponder and rest in it.

Oratio (prayer): Lectio divina is a form of reading that leads to prayer. What begins as God addressing us -- through the reading, and our response -- leads eventually to our being drawn into the presence of God, into the heart of God, into perfect union with the divine will. Our hearts and minds move toward God, who is the great physician, and this movement of the heart is the beginning of prayer. Continue to pray to the divine healer as you are led.

From Paths to Prayer by Patricia D. Brown

Prayer time:
Often when we ask for prayer requests in a setting like this we all default to bringing our concerns for others. This is a good practice, but it also allows us to avoid thinking about how our group can pray for us specifically. It can be something big or something small, but we want to share our celebrations and concerns for ourselves in this group.  

So, how can we pray for you this week?

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