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The Essential Jesus Challenge For Small Groups

You can take the Essential Jesus Challenge any number of ways but one of the best is in a small group, such as a Sunday School class or home Bible study group. Taking the Challenge this way provides you with positive motivation to keep your readings "on track" with the others in the group and makes your experience more meaningful as you share and discuss what you've learned and discovered about Jesus.

Your group may already have a time and place to meet. You may also already have a group leader - someone to organise the group and lead the discussion. If not, it's a good idea to get the group together once just to set the "game plan": who will lead or facilitate the group, what time, place and how often to meet, your goal for when the Challenge will end, and whether there will be child care provided.

After a time, place and group leader are set, everyone in the group will need at least three things: an easy-to-read version of the Bible such as the New International Version (NIV), the New Living Translation (NLT) or the Contemporary English Version (CEV)), a copy of the companion book Essential Jesus or one of the Apps and of course an open mind.

Essential Jesus tells you which passage of Scripture to read and the commentary helps you reflect on and apply the main points, but it won't make sense unless you read the Bible passages themselves. In the companion book there are a series of questions at the end of each week's readings designed to stimulate and guide a group discussion of those passages. Taking the Essential Jesus Challenge in a small group needn't be difficult and it can be very rewarding as members develop not only a deeper understanding of Jesus but also a closer relationship with each other.

Some Tips to Help Get Your Essential Jesus Challenge Small Group Started:

Be Prepared
A successful group depends on every member having read the passages for that week and being prepared to discuss them. And part of good preparation is having someone (the leader or members of another group) praying for each member of the group before each meeting.

Gather Your Resources
Have a couple of extra Bibles on hand for those who don't have one or have forgotten to bring it with them. Be sure to order a copy of the companion book for each member of the group (www.rfmshop.com.au), or guide them to purchase the app for their mobile device.

Create a Welcoming Atmosphere
You may want to start each session with singing and worship or a time for refreshments and fellowship. Whatever works for your group in the allotted time. Have name tags and introduce everyone at the first session. Plan to leave time enough at the end for members to pray for each other.

Invite and Encourage Discussion
The discussion questions in Essential Jesus are meant to help you think about the passages and discover their deeper meanings. Everyone should be encouraged to participate in the discussion. No one should be allowed to dominate. Listen to everyone carefully. You'll be surprised at their insights.

Stay Focused
Stick to the topic and passages for that session, that way, everyone will have read the same material and can participate in the discussions on an equal basis. No honest questions pertaining to the passages under discussion should be "out of bounds". But if especially difficult questions arise, it may be helpful to ask "What does the Bible say about that?" or note it down to ask your Pastor.

Learn and Live
Jesus will "come alive" in an exciting way as group members begin to apply and live out what they've learned about Him. Encourage group members to share how they have applied what they have learned about Jesus to their daily lives. Discuss any mission projects or further Bible study the group may undertake as follow up to completing the Essential Jesus Challenge.