Ask your group members these questions:
What are some indicators of “spiritual preparation,” things someone says that could lead to a spiritual conversation? What are some things, like events, that might be “open doors” for you to start a spiritual conversation with a friend, family member, co-worker, neighbor, or acquaintance?
Indicators of spiritual preparation may include:
• Your friend commenting on the “plight of the world.”
• Your friend asking your opinion on how to handle a situation.
• Your friend mentioning a trouble he/she is facing.
• Your friend asking you to pray, or asking about your church.
• Your friend expressing a thought, idea, or cliché that has Biblical roots.
• Your friend talking about God, Jesus, or deity.
Some examples of an “open door” might include:
• Job loss/start, promotion.
• Birth, death, marriage, divorce, or other life event or milestone.
• Disclosure of adversity of self or loved-one (sickness, addiction, etc.).
• Moving or needing help with a chore or project.
• Responding to indicators of faith (seeing a Bible, cross, or non-Christian icon).
• Discussing Christian themes in a movie, TV show, or book.
This next activity would take some advance preparation (in-person only).
Before group time, the leader purchases individual bags of potato chips and a large baking potato. Just before the group meeting time, the leader thinly slices the baking potato and puts one raw slice of potato into a baggie or wrap in plastic wrap.
Each person at the time of gathering together receives one bag of chips and one wrapped/bagged slice of potato (there cannot be a communal serving dish with the slices of potato on it; they must be individually wrapped/bagged).
At the instruction of the leader, the members taste the plain, unsalted potato. Everyone should describe the taste. Then the members open their potato chip bag and try at least one chip (of course they can eat the whole bag if they wish!) and then describe the taste of the salty chips.
Which is better tasting? How can we as people following Christ be salt in this world, in our community, in our homes? “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. - Mathew 5:13
We certainly should want to add "flavor" that is needed everywhere! Group members are encouraged to give examples of how they have been or could be salt in their families, neighborhood, and community.
1. Read Matthew 5:13. Salt is essentially different from the medium into which it is put. It is the same with Christ’s disciples; their power in the world lies in their difference from it. Salt represented purity, flavored food, and retarded decay in food (from Thomas Constable’s commentary). How should your relationship with Jesus flavor the world around you?
(Intent: Like salt, we are to flavor the world with the distinct fragrance of Christ (II Cor. 2:15). This includes godly words of truth and love, as well as righteous deeds. All this is empowered by the Holy Spirit, which is why it’s distinct from the world.)
2. Review Colossians 4:6 and James 3:10-12. A. How is our speech like salt? B. Describe a time when your speech was pure and flavorful. How about a time when it wasn’t?
(Intent: A concordance search for “salt” shows that it can both ruin and restore. If we are to “tame the tongue,” James 3:8, we must ask the Holy Spirit to control it.)
3. A. Have you experienced a season when you felt your “saltiness” had lost its flavor? B. If so, how did you deal with it and has your “saltiness” returned?
4. Read Matthew 5:14-16. How do you reconcile verse 16 and Matthew 6:1-4?
(Intent: We can do good deeds out of a motive of love for others and the Lord, pointing to Him as the source of our motivation. In this case, the people we help are more likely to glorify God rather than us. Or we can do good deeds simply for recognition. Mt. 5:14-16 refers to the former case; Mt. 6:1-4 refers to the latter.)
5. How do you discern when your witness should be action or words or both?
(Intent: Words can be those of encouragement, admonition, or sharing the gospel, prayerfully seeking the Holy Spirit’s guidance in the process. Actions are an outward expression of the gospel, such as meeting someone's felt need, “What is it that you need?” It could be practical, physical, financial, or almost anything that requires our time, effort, finances, or abilities. We must be sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit as to what we do at different times with different people. At some point, sharing the Gospel in words is necessary.)
6. 1 Corinthians 15:33 NIV says, "Bad company corrupts good character." How does the “company” you keep, e.g., entertainment, social media, friends, or interests, have the potential to affect your “light” by dimming or brightening it?
(Intent: Last week we spoke of being “in” Christ. If we are staying close to Him, our light will glow brightly. If not, our light will dim. Some people and things will draw us toward the Lord, and others move us away from Him.)
Commit this week to offer prayer for someone you know is not a believer or to a stranger. Just simply tell them that you are going to be praying to Jesus later and would love to pray for any burden on their heart. Another approach would be to ask, “If God was going to do a miracle in your life today, what would you want it to be?” Listen to their heart and try not to cut the conversation short. Commit to pray for them and what they shared (that can be right there on the spot or at a later time). Remember to thank them for sharing with you and be sure to honor your commitment to pray.
Recall a time when you made a positive impact on a non-Christian, drawing them toward the Lord. This could be in words or actions. Rejoice in that recollection as a group.
Ask the Lord to show you if you have departed from your first love relationship with Him and for the Holy Spirit’s help to be salt and light in the world surrounding you. Ask Him to guide your path and brighten your light in these dark days.