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1 SAMUEL 8:4-21; 9:14–10:1; 13:5-14



EXODUS 2:1-10; 18:1-8, 13-26; NUMBERS 12:1-15



MARK 2:1-12; LUKE 5:17-26



LUKE 10:25-37



LUKE 19:1-10



LUKE 22:47-51; JOHN 18:1-11



ACTS 17:16-34



ACTS 3:1-19

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This guide is designed for small-group use with the companion book Beyond Your Backyard. It will help your group discuss the ideas from Beyond Your Backyard and apply them in your lives. This happens best in groups that are growing together in real friendships, real faith, and real fun! TRUE TO THE BIBLE

The aim is not to study a book however. It is to study God’s Word, using Beyond Your Backyard as a launching pad. We have designed this guide, like all the Standard Publishing products you’ve come to trust, to be true to the Bible. TRUE TO LIFE

We designed this guide also to be true to life—life in the real world of friends, spouses, disappointments, kids, jobs, bills, and other everyday circumstances. We want this guide to help your faith intersect with other aspects of your life so you will live the life that Jesus promised: life to the full! A number of features make this guide distinctive: º It is designed for busy people. You will not need to spend hours preparing for meetings, whether you are the leader or another member of the group. However, reading the companion book, Beyond Your Backyard, is highly recommended to help you get the most out of this study. º It is designed for people at various maturity levels. You do not need to be a Bible scholar to facilitate or participate in these studies. The companion book will provide the teaching for each session. Your job is to discuss the truths from God’s Word and apply them to your life. º It is designed to develop community. Your group—whether you are a Sunday school class, Bible study, or small group—will grow closer to one another as you share your stories, study the Word, and serve together. The optimal number of participants in a group is usually about three to ten, depending on a variety of circumstances. But larger groups can still be very effective. We suggest you subgroup if your group is larger than twelve. You may want to break into several groups 7

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of three to six during the Study and Apply sections, for instance, for deeper discussion and more authentic application. º It is designed to help you grow spiritually. Real, lasting life change is the primary goal. The Holy Spirit will transform you as you allow him to work through God’s Word and other group members to encourage, support, admonish, and pray for one another. Your group will employ FOR THE LEADER Colossians 3:16: “Let the word of Christ You are in a vital position dwell in you richly as you teach and to help people grow admonish one another with all wisdom.” in their relationships with God. The best HOW EACH SESSION IS ORGANIZED leadership comes out of Leader Preparation: Use this section to prepare the overflow of a godly your heart and mind for the meeting. To leader’s heart. The Leader maximize opportunities for spiritual growth in Preparation section and your group, take time to read and reflect. Also other leader helps are use this time to pray for group members. included to feed your heart first—to equip Bible Study Agenda: This is an inductive rather and encourage you than deductive study. It is designed to help before you lead your participants discover truth from God’s Word group. God has called through group interaction rather than having you to shepherd this the leader just tell them what it says. It is small group of people also designed to help participants observe, that he has entrusted to contemplate, wrestle with, and take action on your care. We want to Scripture. Use the questions to facilitate lively provide whatever support interaction among group members. This will and resources we can to lead people to aha moments—when they get help you carry out this it. Ask follow-up questions to keep a good vital ministry to which discussion moving. Keep the group on track God has called you. We with strong yet gentle encouragement and have several resources guidance. available to help meet your needs. Please visit º Connect: Utilize the Connect questions http://www.standardpub. to help group members share about com/Church_Ministry/ what they know best—themselves— Adult%20Ministry/ and to get them actively involved in the smallgrouphelpguides.asp discussion. The main question here is to learn more about our “What is your story?” small-group help guides. 8

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º Study: These discussion questions are arranged to help members first observe and examine the Bible text, then understand and discern what the Scripture means and how they relate to it personally. The question here is “What is God saying to you in this passage?” º Apply: This is the most important meeting element. Make sure you move the group toward this part of the process. Here they will relate God’s Word to their own everyday lives and decide what they will do with it. The question here is “How will I respond?” º Stepping Out to Serve Others: Each session ends with a challenge for your group to take an action step that lives out the particular focus for the day. Some of these service opportunities to get beyond your backyard are very easy, and others will take some additional planning. The question here is “How are we going to reach others with God’s truth in a practical way?”

Before the Next Meeting: Encourage group members to read the next chapter in Beyond Your Backyard for the upcoming meeting. They may also look up Scripture passages if they like, but they do not need to do any other homework. Leader’s Between-Meeting Shepherding Ideas: A healthy, life-changing small group is more than just what happens during the meeting time. Set an example by staying in contact with participants between meetings through phone calls, visits, e-mail, and personal letters or cards. The best groups are like close families that care for one another 24/7.

uides.asp out our guides. 9

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“‘You acted foolishly,’ Samuel said. ‘You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the LORD’s command.’” —1 SAMUEL 13:13, 14

The goal of this session is to help you understand the difference between doing things our way and doing things God’s way. Everyone has opportunities to serve the Lord. Some people are called to become leaders. Others are called to serve in the church or the community through behind-the-scenes roles. But all are called to remain faithful and not become stuck in the mud of the world.

LEADER PREPARATION q Read 1 Samuel 8:4-21; 9:14–10:1; 13:5-14. q Read the introduction and chapter 1 of Beyond Your Backyard. q As you prepare for this study, take time to pray for those attending your group. And as you lead your group each session, be prepared to share how God is working in you.

CONNECT 1. Were you ever the guest of honor at a surprise party? How did you react to the special attention you received? How did it make you feel to know that others cared enough to keep the party a secret?

2. How would you define success? Name someone you consider successful. Why would you use that word to describe that person?


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When we think about dealing with peer pressure, teenagers usually come to mind. But adults are certainly not immune. When an individual believes he is missing something valuable or enjoyable because everyone else has it or is doing it, that’s peer pressure. Such pressure is a powerful force unless strong convictions prevail. —Beyond Your Backyard, p. 18

3. Why is peer pressure so hard to resist?

STUDY Read 1 Samuel 8:4-21. 4. Why did Israel want a king? q To be like the other nations around them q To have a leader who would unite the tribes q To support a strong defense q All of the above A conviction is not just something that you hold; it is something that holds you. A conviction will control your ways, your words, and your wealth. It is vital to determine whether faith is a preference or a conviction. The crowd is easy to follow but, all too often, painfully wrong. —Beyond Your Backyard, p. 18

5. Does it surprise you that Israel was not content with God as their leader? What might that imply about the convictions of the Israelites at that time?


King Saul’s reign is generally dated from 1020–1000 . He made his fortress palace at Gibeah of Saul (Saul’s Hill), which was about three miles north of Jerusalem. From Gibeah, Saul drove the Philistines from the hill country and fought many other enemies of Israel (see 1 Samuel 14:47, 48). He was a king well loved by his people, even to the time of his death.

Read 1 Samuel 9:14–10:1.


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6. Put yourself in Saul’s sandals. How would you feel about being chosen king? What do you imagine he was thinking about as Samuel anointed him for leadership? Saul could have been the best of kings, but his reign ended tragically because somewhere along the way he strayed from the path of humility and stepped into the mud of his own selfish agenda. —Beyond Your Backyard, p. 25

Read 1 Samuel 13:5-14. 7. What command did Saul violate? (see 10:8). Why did Saul offer the sacrifice? Do you think his punishment was too harsh? Why or why not? What about positive intentions? Do they count for nothing?

APPLY 8. Saul demonstrated some great qualities that are worth emulating: a humble attitude, a simple manner, a magnanimous heart, and a courageous spirit. So why did things go so wrong for Saul? What are some of the risks Christian leaders face today? How can they overcome those risks?

9. Saul had tons of potential but fell short of the mark. What are some essential things we can do to ensure that we finish well?

10. James 1:22 states, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” What are some ways in which we as a group can support and encourage one another in faith?


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STEPPING OUT TO SERVE OTHERS How well do you know your neighbors? This session’s outreach action step is simple. Take a little bit of time to introduce yourself to those living near you. Take a walk and stop by for casual conversation. Bring a plate of homemade cookies and simply let them know who you are. It doesn’t matter how long you have been living in your house or apartment. Step out in faith to say hello. It is a great way to begin building friendships. Then be prepared to share your experiences at the next group meeting. BEFORE THE NEXT MEETING q Read chapter 2 of Beyond Your Backyard.


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