United Journey Prep!
The leader tells the group that they are about to embark on an adventure together, but first, the group needs to prepare for the journey. Each person will say one item that they will contribute to the adventure. Their item must begin with the first letter of their name (e.g., Mary will bring a Map; Sam will bring Sunblock). The first person will state their item and use hand motions to help describe it. The next person will state the previous person’s item, and then their own item—using hand motions to describe them.
The first person is Mary
"Hi, I am Mary, and I’m bringing a MAP on our adventure." (Mary then makes hand motions like she is unfolding a map.)
The second person is Sam
"Hi, Mary is bringing a map (Sam unfolds map). I am Sam and I’m bringing SUNBLOCK." (Sam makes hand motions as though putting sunblock on his arms and face.)
The third person is Beth
"Hi, Mary is bringing a map (Beth unfolds the map) and Sam is bringing sunblock (Beth puts on sunblock). I am Beth and I’m bringing a BIBLE." (Beth makes a motion like opening a book and reading.)
The game continues with each person repeating the prior items and hand motions. After everyone takes a turn—say “all together, let’s list all the items one more time, in order, with the hand motions.” Of course, participants may help each other if someone forgets something along the way. Have fun in the United Journey Prep!
Building a Bond of Unity
Reminding one another of God’s faithfulness to us as individuals and as group members is a great way to build a bond of unity within your small group. If your group has been together for a few years, take time to share stories of God’s faithfulness and answered prayer requests within your group. If you are a newly formed group, share your individual experiences of how God has answered your prayers and shown His faithfulness in your life.
Optional: Build a pyramid with disposable cups (or any object that can be built upon). Each cup is added to build the pyramid as each individual shares of God’s faithfulness. Celebrate with this visual of how God has shown His faithfulness in your small group and in your lives!
1. Read John 17:20. Jesus prayed this the day before He was crucified. Imagine that you knew that you'd be horribly executed tomorrow. A. What would you be thinking about? B. What was Jesus thinking about? C. What does it mean to you that He was actually praying for you at this moment?
(Intent: Isn’t it stunning that we were actually on Jesus’ mind at this, His most difficult hour?)
2. Read verse 21. A. What are some ways the Father and the Son are one? B. In light of question A, what does it look like for Christians to be one? C. What is the significance of our also being "in" the Father and Son?
(Intent: A. Some ideas: There is relational unity in their purpose and goal. This unity goes beyond just consensus; they perfectly love each other. B. Jesus asks that His followers imitate the Father and Son in their unity, so the church’s unity should reflect theirs. C. Our primary identity should be as sons and daughters of God. We are not only united with each other but connected to the Lord, who is the head of the church.)
3. Read Ephesians 4:1-3. A. Who do you think is responsible for maintaining unity in the body of Christ? B. What do these verses tell us about how that is accomplished?
(Intent: A. Each of us in the church is. Individually and collectively we walk out our calling not for self, but for the good of the body of Christ. B. Focus on the various aspects of verses 2-3.)
4. A. Read John 17:22-23 and John 13:34-35. For what purpose is the church to be unified?
B. Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-14 and 27-31. What does it look like to have diversity in unity?
(Intent: A. Love inspires unity. We are commanded to love one another as Christ loves us. This love will show the world that we are truly His disciples and that Jesus is the Son of God. B. This tells us that we are all made differently, playing different roles in the kingdom. In this we all rely on one another. “The body” does not function well without all of the members.)
5. In John 17:22, Jesus speaks of giving glory to believers. In what sense do Christians share God's glory?
(Intent: According to Thomas Constable’s commentary, Jesus probably was speaking of His bringing the full knowledge of God to them. The revelation of God results in glory for God. When believers understand and believe the revelation of God that Jesus brought, they become partakers of that glory. This is something else they share in unity with one another that the Father and the Son also share with one another.)
Do you have differences with a fellow Christian that result in your feeling or causing disunity? Why not reach out to them this week and acknowledge the tension but ask to hear their side of things completely. Seek to understand their point of view as well if not better than they do themselves. Commit to not sharing your own point of view. Finish by praying together. This is often a very good first step to reconciliation.
In a world increasingly marred by division, our role in the church is to be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,” Ephesians 4:3. Pray that the Lord of the Church would reveal to us where we have been proud, harsh, impatient, or unloving to others in the body. Ask Him to forgive you, and also the church as a whole, for any transgressions.