Before the Session
Facilitator: In advance of the session
- Have the Bible Background Video ready to view.
- Review today’s scripture text and the session activities to help better facilitate the discussion.
- Encourage your group to listen to the Faithelement podcast ahead of the next session (Share the link via email or social media)
Context (From the Media Session Page)
Play the Religion Explained… video and ask:
- This was a scene from a famous comedy, but what parts of it rang a little true and why?
- How do you usually respond when people question your faith practices?
- What do you think is the right way to handle public faith disagreements?
- Why do you think people find it so easy to escalate from a position of thinking that someone is mistaken, to thinking that someone is an enemy?
Content (From the Mind Session Page)
Read Acts 7:51-60, then watch the Bible Background Video.
- In what ways were the religious leaders “opposing” or “resisting” the Holy Spirit, as Stephen said?
- How has this happened before – and how does Jesus fit in with what’s happened to previous prophets?
- What do you think it was about Stephen’s words and manner of speaking that so enraged the religious leaders?
- Why do you think God gave Stephen a vision of Jesus in heaven at that moment… and why would this announcement have enraged the leaders even more?
- How did these religious people break the Law, even as they “kept” it?
- Why would Stephen say such things – and what do his words reveal about his motives in speaking to his fellow Jews?
- If you take time to read over Stephen’s sermon, it might seem he was trying to confront and provoke them… or it might seem that he loved the people he was speaking to, and was pleading for them to make the right decision. How does this change the way we hear this story… and what might it teach us about our methods and motives for “confronting” others with the truth of the Gospel?
Closure (from the Current Session page)
Watch together this excerpt from a speech by Barack Obama on Religion and Politics (stop at 4:55) and continue by asking:
- Regardless of your feelings about the speaker, what do you think were the most important points he made and why?
- For what reasons might this speech have been considered controversial?
- At what points does this speech veer into topics that justify various’ people’s anger at the words or the speaker?
- This speech notwithstanding, what kinds of things have you heard people say that you feel were insulting to people whose faith is similar to yours?
- What is the best way to respond to people who challenge our faith, whether they may be right or wrong?
- In what ways might God help us grow by challenging our perspectives on various faith-related issues?
- How might we best represent our most closely held beliefs, while understanding that others might be challenged by them?
Close with a group prayer, asking for the strength to both hear the words of the Spirit and to not be offended by them.