Alive in Christ. Transformed for Mission.

HOUSE CHURCH QUESTIONS (based on the Message for Sunday, October 13)

The first missionary journey of Paul and Barnabus has come to an end, and there is a shift in their primary focus from mission to matters of doctrine.

When a doctrinal disagreement emerges around the issue of circumcision for new Gentile believers, the church leaders hold council together in Jerusalem to discuss it, and forge a new path forward.

Scripture Reading: Acts 15:1-35

Upon first reading, what specifics jump out to you? Do you have any questions that need clarifying about the setting or the events?

As you contemplate the passage as a whole, are there any larger themes or ideas that occur to you? What might the Holy Spirit be saying to you through this reading?

The answer to this question was of critical importance to the church. It was a contentious issue and debated over for a long time. Finally the scales were tipped by the words of Peter, James, and the testimony of Paul and Barnabus. Why do you think those in attendance didn’t settle on a “let’s agree to disagree” or “you do you” approach to solving their dispute? How does this picture of the early church working through their disagreements challenge us today in our culture?

Verse 22 indicates that “the whole church” was present for this council meeting, and affirmed the outcome. Why do you think a doctrinal debate on circumcision was a not-to-be-missed event? How do you suppose their theology impacted their day-to-day life and actions?

In helping solve their disagreement, James advises (v.19-21) that they not make it difficult for Gentiles to turn to God, but also instruct the Gentiles to avoid certain practices (food offered to idols, eating meat with blood in it, and eating the meat of strangled animals, and sexual immorality). What role did fellowship have to play behind this instruction? (see verse 21)

After the dispute was resolved, the decision was immediately made to communicate this to the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia. Why was this their first priority?

HOUSE CHURCH QUESTIONS (based on the Message for Sunday, October 6)

After preaching the gospel, Paul was stoned and nearly killed outside of the city of Lystra, by a crowd that had been stirred up in opposition to their missionary work. The next day, he and Barnabus continued on their journey, preaching, eventually coming back to Antioch, the place where they were first commissioned to do this work.

Scripture Reading: Acts 14:21-28

Upon first reading, what specifics jump out to you? Do you have any questions that need clarifying about the setting or the events?

As you contemplate the passage as a whole, are there any larger themes or ideas that occur to you? What might the Holy Spirit be saying to you through this reading?

If you study the geography of the region, after leaving Derbe, rather than taking a more direct route, Paul and Barnabus actually went out of their way to return through Lystra, Iconium, and Pisidia. They backtracked to return to the cities where they had before been forcefully driven out. Why do you think they chose to do this? What does this decision have to do with the message they carried?

Returning to the cities where they faced the strongest (and most violent) opposition, verse 22-23 suggest the focus was not on preaching to non-believers this time around, but rather on strengthening, encouraging, and equipping the disciples who were already there. How did Paul and Barnabus do this exactly, and why? What do you think was expected of the disciples there once Paul and Barnabus left again?

Verses 26-28 describe something like a homecoming. What do you imagine Paul and Barnabus were feeling as they returned to the place they were first committed to start their mission work? What emotional tone do you think this scene describes? Can you think of a time you had a similar experience of “returning home.” What awaited you there?

What do you think your House Church can learn from the examples set by the small gatherings of Believers described in these verses?

HOUSE CHURCH QUESTIONS (based on the Message for Sunday, September 29)

Paul and Barnabas continue their missionary journey in the city of Lystra, in the larger region of Lycaonia. The people there were Gentiles, part of a different culture and speaking a different language. Paul and Barnabas’ ministry there centred around the healing of a man who had been lame since birth, and the people’s response to it.

Scripture Reading: Acts 14:8-20

Upon first reading, what specifics jump out to you? Do you have any questions that need clarifying about the setting or the events?

As you contemplate the passage as a whole, are there any larger themes or ideas that occur to you? What might the Holy Spirit be saying to you through this reading?

When the people start (false) worshipping Paul and Barnabas for “their” miracle, they attempt to clarify and steer the crowds back to the one true God. Verse 18 says, “Even with these words, they had difficulty keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them.” What reflections do you have, as you think of times when you’ve shared (or attempted to share) the message of Jesus?

Do you think Paul and Barnabas’ missionary work in Lystra was successful? Why or why not?

Spoiler warning! Eventually, Paul and Barnabas would return to Lystra, “strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith” (v. 22). Spiritual growth and discipleship is rarely a straight line; it has many dips along the way. How does this impact your view or approach of sharing the message of Jesus?

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