1. Experience Worship – The leader chooses a powerful worship song that they know would emotionally move their group. During group time, play or sing the song twice. The first time, direct participants to either shut their eyes or kneel on the floor as they really listen to and take in the lyrics. The goal is not necessarily to sing along, but to intentionally listen, especially if the song is familiar. The second time the song is played, provide your group with blank paper, art supplies (such as markers, crayons, colored pencils, paints, etc.), and pens/pencils. Encourage your group to either write or draw their emotional response to the song as they listen to it a second time. After the song ends, allow the group to finish their writing/drawing. Either ask for volunteers to share what they experienced during the worship song, or have your group share in pairs.
2. The 5 Senses Experience – Before group, the leader will need to find 5 paper bags and label each with one of the following: Sight, Hearing, Touch, Smell, and Taste. Then find 5 objects, one for each bag. Try to find objects that are not easily identifiable by the sense that is listed on the bag. (For example, a plastic bag with hair gel in it would be good for the Sight category because it is not clear what it is by just looking at it. Also, a clean sock would be good for the Smell category because it may have a faint detergent smell, but it is unclear what it is by just smelling it.) Have fun and be creative with the objects you put in each bag.
During group, ask for 5 volunteers. Each volunteer will get a different bag and will have to try to identify the object in the bag by using only the sense listed on the bag. For example, the person who gets the Smell category would need to close their eyes, and the leader would need to hold the object up to their nose so they could smell it. (Remember, only the person with the Touch bag can touch their object.)
After each person has attempted to guess their object, reveal the objects to them. Then discuss how difficult it was to experience something with only one sense. Liken this to experiencing God – it is difficult to experience him if you only experience him with your mind or your heart but not both. Have the remaining group members who didn’t volunteer share a time when they fully experienced God.
THIS WEEK’S DEVOTIONALS
1. Refer to the devotional “What If?” Which of the four questions stood out to you and why? The questions were about 1) preparation for corporate worship, 2) focusing on God’s glory or being distracted by your preferences, 3) analyzing the sermon or learning from it, and 4) serving to build up the body or for another reason.
2. Refer to the devotional “Mensy and Yousy – The Beginning of a Lifelong Journey with the King.” Share a time when something you said or did moved someone closer to Jesus.
Read John 4:23-24.
1. What is worship? Is true worship internal, external, or both?
• (Intent: Background and gifting can impact how a person views worship. Worship flows out of relationship and is a spiritual response giving glory and sacrificial service to God. It involves submission, praise, and gratitude. The word “worship” comes from the Old English word worthship, which denotes the worthiness of the one receiving the special honor or devotion. Discuss how external religious practices or spiritual disciplines should flow from a heart turned towards God. Our internal worship, involving “heart & head, emotion & thought, spirit & truth,” should overflow externally in our daily lives and corporate gatherings.)
2. What does it mean to “worship the Father in truth”? Read Matthew 15:8-9 and John 17:17.
• (Intent: Worship is true when there is sincerity of heart and belief consistent with God’s Word. “Truth without emotion produces dead orthodoxy and a church full (or half-full) of artificial admirers. On the other hand, emotion without truth produces empty frenzy and cultivates shallow people who refuse the discipline of rigorous thought. But true worship comes from people who are deeply emotional and who love deep and sound doctrine.” – John Piper)
3. Read John 4:10, 14, and 21-24. Jesus is speaking on a spiritual level; the Samaritan woman is stuck in the material. How do Christ's words help you understand what He means by "worship the Father in spirit..."?
• (Intent: Jesus uses terms with spiritual meanings: gift of God, living water, never thirst, springing up to eternal life. He indicates worship is not dependent on location, and states that God is spirit. All this helps clarify that worship is not primarily physical, but a spiritual practice.)
4. “Worship the Father in spirit” … is this God’s spirit or our spirit?
• (Intent: John 3:6 says “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” It’s not either-or, but both-and. For those who are new creatures in Christ, our spirit owes its existence and vibrancy to the Spirit of God. True worship comes only from spirits made alive and sensitive by the quickening of the Spirit of God. God’s Spirit ignites and energizes our spirit.)
5. Jesus Christ claimed to be "the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6). How is being the truth different from knowing or having the truth?
• (Intent: Jesus does more than point to the truth; His nature defines it. For example, the basic reason we are to be honest is not because God commands it, but because He is honest.)
6. Why is it important to worship and experience God not only individually but corporately?
• (Intent: Truth/wisdom is revealed through the church -- Eph. 3:10. On our own, it is easier to get off-track by over- or under-emphasizing something or allowing our individual experience to dictate our beliefs. There is wisdom in the counsel of many – Prov. 15:22 Fellowship is important; this is where we do the “one-another’s.” – Heb. 10:24-25.)
7. Read Romans 12:1-14. This passage is a pretty good description of a healthy church. From this passage, recount some of ways that Christians, as a part of the church, should think and act differently from the world.
• (Intent: Worshiping in spirit and truth means that our actions are consistent with what we believe, i.e., that Christ is Lord. Worship involves a declaration proven by our actions. Romans 12 describes a transformed mind. In submission to Christ we no longer think and act independently of Him, but as a part of the whole, Christ’s Body – Christ’s Church Some possible answers may be: 1) We lay our lives down. 2) We remain humble by the power of the Spirit. 3) We serve the body as a whole through our individual gifting. 4) We regard ourselves as a part of the whole.)
Encourage each group member to find their own private space around the meeting room and to kneel if they are able. Tell group members they will have 10 minutes to pray on their own and experience God through prayer. Suggest that group members tell God whatever is on their hearts and minds and spend time just listening quietly for His voice. Encourage group members to stay focused and not allow their minds to wander. Remind them that prayer is a conversation with God. (If your group has a lot of newer believers or people who are uncomfortable with prayer, consider just doing this activity for 5 minutes since 10 minutes can feel like an eternity, otherwise.)
1. Consider your answer to question 1 above under This Week’s Devotionals. How can you act on this?