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Tough Questions Leader's Guide (Revised)

(Paperback - Sep 2003)
$9.99 - Online Price

Overview

This revised edition of Tough Questions, designed for use in any small group setting, is ideal for use in seeker small groups. Based on more than five years of field-tested feedback, extensive improvements make this best-selling series easier to use and more appealing than ever for both participants and group leaders. The Tough Questions Series How can an all-powerful God allow suffering? Is Jesus really the only way to God? Why should I trust the Bible? Tough questions. Reasonable questions. The kinds of challenging questions you, or someone you know may be asking, that are worth taking time to explore. In six sessions designed to get small groups thinking and interacting, each guide in the Tough Questions series deals frankly with objections commonly raised about Christianity. You ll engage in the kind of spirited dialog that shows the Christian faith can stand up to scrutiny. TOUGH QUESTIONS You ve heard them before, maybe even asked a few of them yourself. This leader s guide will help you steer your small group toward a greater understanding of the Christian faith. Together, you ll explore the power and preeminence of Jesus and the truth he brought to light. You may be leading a small group of seekers who are curious but unconvinced about Christianity. Or a small group of believers who want to become better grounded in what and why they believe. Regardless, this book will give you insights and coaching you need to engage participants in thoughtful and personally rewarding discussions about the life-changing truths of Christianity."

Details

  • SKU: 9780310245094
  • UPC: 025986245092
  • SKU10: 0310245095
  • Title: Tough Questions Leader's Guide
  • Series: Tough Questions Tough Questions
  • Qty Remaining Online: 2
  • Publisher: Zondervan
  • Date Published: Sep 2003
  • Edition Description: Revised
  • Pages: 144
  • Weight lbs: 0.45
  • Dimensions: 8.94" L x 6.26" W x 0.40" H
  • Themes: Theometrics | Evangelical;
  • Category: BIBLICAL STUDIES
  • Subject: Biblical Studies - General

Chapter Excerpt


Chapter One

How Does Anyone Know God Exists?

DISCUSSION ONE

Is Anybody Out There?

Short Answer: Yes! Not only is God out there, he is personal, he cares, and he is reaching out to you.

Question 1: Think back to your childhood. What did you believe about God during those years? Describe some ways your views have changed since then.

Question 2: What are some factors that have influenced your current beliefs about God? One of the most significant factors affecting our view of God is the image of our parents-whether good or bad. Things they said or didn't say and did or didn't do probably made an impact on us that lasts to this day. Another notable influence might be respected (or otherwise) authority figures. Peer pressure may also have contributed to our thinking about God, as well as things we observe in nature, books, and other information we have gathered from people we hold in high regard. Our consciences also tell us something about God.

There are at least two reasons why these questions are included here: the first is to enable you and your group members to learn more about each other; the second, to build bridges of trust between the members of the group. It is important for group members to develop and maintain respect for each other, regardless of where they are in their spiritual journeys.

Question 3: Which of the above positions [see guide] about God represents the most common belief among people you know? Which view is least popular among your friends and acquaintances? Give reasons for your answers.

Question 4: How convinced are your friends and acquaintances that their views and beliefs about God are accurate? What do you think determines the level of confidence they have?

Question 5: How do you think people decide what they're going to believe about God? What do you think they base their beliefs about God upon? Many people are unintentional or haphazard in how they arrive at their view about God. It is important for us to see the reasons behind what we believe. This question can help people see (maybe for the first time) that most individuals don't have substantial reasons to back up what they believe about God.

Question 6: Which of the views of God listed makes the most sense to you? Why? Make sure to withhold any judgment or condemnation toward those who may not believe as you do. It's very important to offer unconditional acceptance toward everyone in your group.

Question 7: On a scale from one to ten (one represents low confidence and ten represents high confidence), how certain are you that your view is based on actual evidence rather than opinion? In many cases, this will be the very first time group members will have ever been asked to identify and describe their confidence level about what they believe. This may make some uncomfortable. Still, part of building a good foundation for belief is to recognize the crumbling concrete of an existing spiritual foundation so there will eventually be a new readiness to find a way to build a stronger one. It is important for members to feel the freedom and safety to share their true thoughts and uncertainties in the group and not feel judged or put down in any way for what they do or don't believe. In his book Asking God Your Hardest Questions, Lloyd Ogilvie, onetime chaplain of the U.S. Senate, asserts, "Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once said, 'Give me the benefit of your convictions, if you have any, but keep your doubts to yourself, for I have enough of my own.' I don't agree with that. I want to put it differently: Give me your doubts. Be honest enough to admit them. Our Lord is pressing us on to new growth. Our doubt is our human response. He can take our struggle with doubt and give us the gift of faith to ask for wisdom." That's exactly what you want to do in your group discussion-invite people to openly and honestly express their doubts and uncertainties. The first step in overcoming disbelief is identifying it.

Question 8: What might help to increase the level of confidence you have in what you believe about God? Explain.

Question 9: What other specific examples can you give of "everyday faith"? The point of this question is to help group members see that they exercise faith all the time, not just in spiritual matters. Every day people put their trust in things without taking much time to assess the trustworthiness of the objects of their confidence. What makes trusting God difficult is that God is not tangible, whereas these everyday things are. R. C. Sproul, in his book Now, That's a Good Question, states, "I don't think there's anything that makes living the Christian life more difficult than the fact that the Lord we serve is invisible to us. You know the expression in our culture 'Out of sight, out of mind.' It's very, very difficult to live your life dedicated to someone or something you cannot see. Often you hear people say that when they can see it, taste it, touch it, or smell it, they'll believe and embrace it, but not before. This is one of the most difficult problems of the Christian life: God is rarely perceived through our physical senses." But God does give reliable evidence of his existence and trustworthiness, and this series is about discovering that evidence.

Question 10: During those times when absolute proof is impossible (there is no guarantee a plane will arrive safely), what factors help you determine whether you'll place your trust in something? Possible answers include the reputation of the person or company you are trusting (i.e., credentials, training, title, research, appearances, past experiences, recommendations). Note: Lack of trust is based on these same factors.

Question 11: What factors would help you get to reasonable certainty concerning God's existence? Many of us assume that if God were to show up somewhere and speak to us, then we would believe. Others might want answers to prayers, and other signs that God is showing them favor. Intellectual types may ask for historical evidence or scientific proof. Note: As a leader, be sure not to belittle the responses you hear, no matter how foolish or inadequate the answers may seem.

Question 12: Check the statement(s) below [see guide] that best describes your position at this point. Share your selection with the rest of the group and give reasons for your response.

DISCUSSION TWO

How Can Anyone Be Sure God Exists?

Short Answer: We may not be able to have absolute certainty, but we may have reasonable certainty.

Question 1: Give an example or two of something you place your trust in even though you are unable to perceive it with your five senses.

Question 2: What is one thing you no longer believe today that you believed when you were younger? What changed your mind?

Question 3: Share some of the concrete reasons you have now for your belief-or disbelief-in the existence of God. Press your group members to go beyond describing influences to giving concrete reasons that could persuade someone else to adopt their point of view. As we pointed out in the previous session, people tend not to have compelling reasons for their beliefs-they usually believe the way they do without stopping to examine why.

Question 4: Do you believe the sun will rise tomorrow? Why or why not? Can you provide proof for your response?

Question 5: How does this reality [see guide] impact your ability or inability to believe in God? For those who are concerned with proving God "scientifically," this question can help reveal that the realm of science can't conclusively address the question.

Question 6: What arguments other than those above [see guide] might people give against the existence of God?

Question 7: To what extent do these arguments and other factors influence your own thinking that God may not exist? Explain. Do not feel pressured to address all the issues raised as a result of this question. At this point just let group members express their doubts and questions.

Question 8: Select the argument [see guide] that for you is the strongest support of the existence of God. Which is the weakest argument? Give reasons for your selections. Don't get sidetracked or bogged down by this question. Experience shows that these arguments don't completely make or break someone's belief or disbelief in God. They are helpful but often not conclusive.

Question 9: Do you think most people consider the above arguments (for and against) when drawing a conclusion about the existence of God? Why or why not? Should they? For some the identified arguments are helpful, but for others questions will still remain.

Question 10: Why do you think Jesus said that people who do not see and yet still believe will be blessed? One possibility is that such people demonstrate that they have a healthy balance between weighing the existing evidence and trusting God, without being plagued by ongoing doubt. God does not commend gullibility, but placing one's trust in God can lead to contentment and a secure relationship with him.

Question 11: There probably isn't a person alive who hasn't had doubts about the existence of God. When have you experienced these doubts, and how have you dealt with them?

Question 12: Does this experiment [see guide] seem reasonable to you? Is this something you would be open to trying sometime? Why or why not? This exercise might seem threatening to some group members. Do not make them feel obligated to try it. Simply encourage each person to be open to the possibility.

Question 13: What are your fears about God and what he might be like? How do you think those fears affect your confidence in his existence, or your ability to trust him? One of the main reasons people struggle with God is the terrifying view they've adopted of him. As the group leader, one of your tasks is to help people see the God who is really there, not the God of their fears. The next session will address our distorted views of God and try to give a clearer picture of him, which should provide some comfort and hope to your group members. "Because God has spoken and has revealed himself, we no longer have the need or the option of conjuring up ideas and images of God by our own imaginations. Our personal concept of God-when we pray, for instance-is worthless unless it coincides with his revelation of himself" (Paul Little, Know What You Believe).

Question 14: Check the statement(s) below [see guide] that best describes your position at this point. Share your selection with the rest of the group and give reasons for your response.

DISCUSSION THREE

What Is God Really Like?

Short Answer: God is better than you ever imaged him to be, and the clearest picture of him is Jesus.

Question 1: Imagine you are taking a survey, asking people what they think God is like. What are the most common characteristics they would mention?

Question 2: Which of the three images of God mentioned in the introduction (grandfather, policeman, mechanic) most closely resembles your own understanding of God? What circumstances in your past have contributed to that image of him? This question, and the one following, can help you learn more about the people in your group and where they are coming from, spiritually speaking. This information can be helpful as you encourage them on their spiritual journeys.

Question 3: Which of the attributes listed above [see guide] grab your attention more than the others? Explain why those characteristics stand out for you.

Question 4: As you examine the above list [see guide], are there any attributes that surprise or confuse you? Which ones and why?

Question 5: Given the above list of God's attributes [see guide], does God seem appealing to you? Why or why not? To what degree would you like to get to know God better? The enthusiasm a person feels toward the idea of getting to know God is dependent on what that person knows or believes about God's attributes: is he someone the person would enjoy knowing? Also of concern is what a person feels God would provide: what needs might he meet or what benefits will he bring? This may sound selfish but it's probably an accurate gauge of the primary motivation behind a person's search for God. A. W. Tozer once said, "What we believe about God is the most important thing about us."

Question 6: Fill in this blank [see guide] with words you've heard or said yourself. What's your reaction to the thinking behind such statements?

Question 7: Do you agree with this statement [see guide]? Why or why not? The feathers in the analogy represent our opinions, which are weak (featherweight), while we mistake them to be strong (solid, reliable). The wind (reality, truth), not the feathers, has the power. Many people consider their opinions to determine truth, when in fact truth stays the same regardless of our opinions.

Question 8: Now, using the spokes of the wheel below [see guide], explain what your life could be like if you really accepted God for all that he is and allowed him to demonstrate that attribute toward you in each area of your life.

Question 9: What do you suppose is missing from the devil's position about God? How is it possible to believe intellectually that God exists but then live as though he does not exist? Honoring God as God means loving and obeying him. Be sensitive to those who might recognize that they are not living in a way that honors God. This question is not meant to be judgmental or make anyone feel bad but to expose faulty confidences; it is geared toward helping people discover that believing in God is not enough. Don't try to artificially ease the tension if your group members recognize the distance that exists between themselves and God.

Question 10: Expand on what you think is meant by the following statement: "It's one thing to believe that the God described in the Bible exists, and quite another to let that belief impact your life." Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not? This question is designed to continue the dialogue started in question 9. It goes a step further, making it more personal.

Continues.

Reviews

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How Reliable Is the Bible? (Revised) [Paperback] (Sep 2003) $9.99
Don't All Religions Lead to God? (Revised) [Paperback] (Sep 2003) $9.99
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