Life Group Discussion/Study Resource By Clem Fung

This two-session study is meant to go with the 4-week Influencers sermon series at CityLife Church, from 11/12 June 2022 to 2/3 July 2022.

Big Idea: 
In our shared life together as believers, how do we influence (and help) one another to become disciples who can make disciples? The apostle Paul says in 1 Cor 11:1, “Follow me, as I follow Christ.” Or “Imitate me, as I imitate Christ.” “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”

Jesus modelled to us – as He did with His Twelve – a four-step discipleship process, that we too can follow. We can see this from an overview of the Gospel of Mark:
1. Mark 1:15 - 3:12 … I do, you watch
2. Mark 3:13 - 6:13 … I do, you help
3. Mark 6:14 - 8:35 … You do, I help
4. Mark 16:14-20 … You do, I watch
N.B. Mark 10:35-45 … Jesus prepares His disciples for after He is gone

The four steps are like four sides of a SQUARE, which has been variously referred to as Leadership Square, Mentoring Square, Apprenticeship Square … after which the cycle repeats.

But essentially this is about Discipleship – like Christ, making disciples who can make disciples.

Our 4-sermon series will reflect these four aspects:
1. Be an Example
2. Be a Co-Labourer
3. Be a Coach
4. Be an Empowerer

In this study we will look at some OT and NT examples of God’s people being positive Influencers in this way.

Study #1 – Sides 1 and 2 of the Square (choose one or both)

Side 1 of the Square – Be an Example
Big Idea: 
Leadership Square - I do, you watch
Biblical Example:
Moses and Joshua
Key Scriptures: 
Exodus 24:1-2, 12-18; 33:7-11
Other Scriptures: 
Num 13:1-16; Ex 17:8-13; Num 27:12-23; Deut 31:1-23; 34:1-12
Explanation and Comments: 
From our two key passages, we see that Joshua, as Moses’ aide, gets very privileged access to observe, see, and learn from both Moses and from God. He had access that no one else was given. In no small part this was because he served as Moses’ aide, willing to do whatever Moses (and the Lord through Moses) required of him. We can see this in the other related passages.
This was a years-long apprenticeship that Joshua served under Moses, and in the end, he was the most qualified, best equipped, well respected by the people, and the choice of God to take over after Moses.
For those more experienced: who is your ‘Joshua’? Take someone under your wing. Don’t just ask them to do your grunt-work but give them access and insight to you. Show them what you do and how; explain your motivation, method, and the way the Lord leads you. Stimulate/invite and answer questions. This is the first side of the square: “I do, you watch (we talk).”
For those less experienced: who could be a ‘Moses’ to you? Serve them, help them; be willing and open; do the things they need or ask you to. Watch and listen carefully to them, especially on how God has shaped them. Consider the outcome of their life, relationships, ministry, and faith … where you see Jesus, imitate them as they imitate Christ (1 Cor 11:1).

Questions for Reflection and Discussion: 
1. Over the past year how have you grown both as a disciple and as a disciple-maker?
2. How is the Lord convicting you now – challenging, stretching, encouraging, inspiring you – to disciple others?
3. No matter how old or young we are, long time or short time as followers of Jesus, we are still continually in both positions of personally growing in discipleship, and helping others to grow:
a. Who is an example to you right now that you can learn from?
b. Who are you being an example to, inviting them into your life and ministry?

Side 2 of the Square – Be a Co-Labourer 
Big Idea:  
Leadership Square – I do, you help
Biblical Example:
Paul and Timothy
Key Scriptures:
2 Timothy 1:2-14; 3:10 – 4:8
Other Scriptures: 
Acts 16-20; 1 Cor 4:14-17; 1 Timothy 4:6-16, 6:11-21
Explanation and Comments: 
Timothy joined Paul’s missionary team in Acts 16, and he keeps popping up over the next few chapters, through to Acts 20. He was young, but evidently an integral part of Paul’s team, co-labouring with the apostle; often as part of that, staying behind or going on ahead as directed by Paul. He was a great help to Paul!
This becomes even more evident when we read the rest of the NT. Although most of the NT letters are attributed to Paul, take note of how often Timothy is right there with him -- 2 Cor 1:1; Philippians 1:1; Col 1:1; 1 Thess 1:1; 2 Thess 1:1; Philemon 1:1, and Romans 16:21.
Timothy became like a son to Paul. And their close working relationship turned into a close personal relationship also. When we read Paul’s personal correspondence to Timothy, 1 Timothy has more to do with ministry instructions as Timothy stays behind to shepherd the Ephesian church (1 Tim 1:3). But 2 Timothy, while still containing ministry instructions, is intensely personal and very warm (2 Tim 1:2-5) all through the letter.
Serve – work under and alongside someone who is clearly following Jesus and doing the work of the Lord (2 Tim 1:6-8). Co-labour with them, make their calling your calling; and eventually your own calling from the Lord will become clearer.
Persevere – this process of learning and growing is not a short thing, nor will it be easy. There will be challenging and difficult times. Paul sets the example for Timothy and urges Timothy to do the same – endure and continue (2 Tim 3:10-14).
Be faithful – to God’s Word, which is the message of the Gospel. This means we have to study, keep learning and growing, in knowledge as well as in application and in mission and ministry (2 Tim 4:1-5).

Questions for Reflection and Discussion: 
1. Are you currently serving? If not, you are missing out on a vital dynamic of your own discipleship growth. If you are serving, how has serving alongside others helped you to grow?
2. As you serve, how can you also be intentional about encouraging and sharpening others; helping them go deeper in their own walk with Jesus, and imparting ministry and leadership skills/experience that you may have?

Study #2 – Sides 3 and 4 of the Square (choose one or both)

Side 3 of the Square – Be a Coach
Big Idea: 
Leadership Square – You do, I help
Biblical Example:
Mordecai and Esther; or Naomi and Ruth
Key Scriptures: 
Book of Esther (10 chapters), or Book of Ruth (4 chapters)
Explanation and Comments: 
For the third side of the Leadership/Apprenticeship Square – You do, I help – more the ‘work’ is now being done by the apprentice, with the leader still involved, coaching and advising, offering wisdom and perspective; and helping as needed.
We see this in the cases of both Mordecai with Esther, and Naomi with Ruth. 
• Naomi advises and coaches Ruth in a personal matter, which is used by God as part of His salvation plan (the line of David, from which comes Christ).
• Mordecai advises and coaches Esther in a personal matter, which also has implications for a ‘nation’ of captive Jews; and through Mordecai and Esther’s courage and faithfulness, God’s people are saved.
For those more experienced:
• Pay close attention to your apprentice, care for their well-being (Est 2:11; Ruth 1:11-14; 3:1)
• Bring things to their attention they need to know but may not have considered (Est 4:6-9, 13-14; Ruth 2:19-23)
• Seek the Lord, PRAY (Est 4:15-17)
• Work for the good of God’s people (Est 10:2-3)
For those less experienced: 
• Take instruction on board from your coach (Est 2:20; Ruth 2:19-23, 3:1-6)
• Seek advice for your challenges/dilemmas (Est 4:10-11)
• Seek the Lord, PRAY (Est 4:15-17)
• Honour and acknowledge your coach, be loyal (Est 8:1-2; Ruth 1:16-17, 4:14-15)

Questions for Reflection and Discussion: 
1. Do you have someone currently who is a Coach for you, particularly in matters of faith, mission, and ministry?
2. Who could you ask or approach to coach you?
3. Anything else that stands out from the application points above? How does it resonate for you personally?

Side 4 of the Square – Be an Empowerer
Big Idea: 
Leadership Square – You do, I watch
Biblical Example:
Jesus and Peter 
Key Scriptures: 
John ch.21 cf. Matt 4:19 
Explanation and Comments: 
In our key passage, we see that Jesus commissions (and empowers) Peter to continue on after He will be gone. 
In Jesus’ three years of public ministry, He did what only He could do (atonement, resurrection), but also prepared the Twelve to take over from Him, with an 11/12 success rate. This sets a model and example for us even today – even the best and most effective leaders will not be around forever; they must, like Jesus, be intentional about training and preparing others to take over and go further.
As our apprentices grow and learn through the square, by the fourth side of the square, they are trained and ready – we need to empower and release them; but still be available.
Jesus’ final words to Peter here (John 21:19, 22) are “follow me” which harken back to when Jesus first called Peter (and the other disciples) saying: “Come, follow me, and I will send you out to fish for people.” (Matt 4:19)
For the leader/coach:
• Like Jesus with Peter, seek them out when they are discouraged; bless, restore, and encourage; most importantly commission and release them into the work Jesus has for us (3x “feed my sheep”). This is a universal call – to love Jesus, and to care for His sheep (including His lost sheep!).
• Continue to be available – in the case of Jesus with Peter, Peter (and we today) still have access to Jesus through His Spirit and through prayer. But on a human level, we should still have relationship and continue to be available to those we’ve mentored for advice/wisdom/consultation.
For the apprentice:
• The universal call – to love Jesus, and to care for His sheep (including His lost sheep!). Faithfully follow Jesus, including in this.
• Rely on the Lord, on His Spirit given to us; but also, know that your leader(s) who empowered and commissioned you are still for you and available to you.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion: 
1. Discuss this thought: “Even the best and most effective leaders will not be around forever; they must, like Jesus, be intentional about training and preparing others to take over and go further.”
2. Every believer is called to follow Jesus, which includes following Him in His mission (the Great Commission) to make disciples. How can you use the Discipleship Square in your ministry, in your home, in your friendships/connections/neighbourhood?

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