WEEKLY DISCUSSION QUESTIONS & PRAYERS

Weekly study guide updates will be added Sunday evenings starting January 17th. 

Purpose: These group discussion guides are intended to help us as a community learn what it means to know and follow Jesus together in the midst of every day life.  

Method: We use a sermon and scripture based approach. Group members are encouraged to draw from scripture and the weekly sermon as much as possible (versus outside sources) during group discussion. Discussion questions are based on an inductive methodology. This means questions follow into one of three categories: what does it say? (observation); what does it mean? (interpretation), how can I respond? (application).  The goal is not to work through all of the questions, but to use questions to facilitate honest, meaningful engagement with one another and the Bible. 

Weekly prep: Prior to gathering, each group member is encouraged to read the passage, listen to the sermon, consider the discussion questions, and pray. While this is ideal, it is not always possible, so even if you haven't prepared, still come to CG and be part of the discussion! 


WEEK Thirteen: THe Cheerful Giver (2 COR. 9:1-15) 

Sermon Audio

To Begin

  • Invite a group member to read the passage aloud. 
  • Invite group members to briefly share anything that stood out to them (like/dislike, surprising, confusing, etc.)

Discussion Questions

Remember, these questions are intended to prompt group conversation about the sermon and scripture passage. Do not attempt to answer every question in your group discussion time. Try to look to the scripture passage as much as possible as you discuss. 

  1. When it comes to giving, why can it be easy to make promises but hard to follow through? Why are we so tempted to say one thing and do another in the area of giving?
  2. Paul is not shy about discussing financial matters with the Corinthians. Why are we so uncomfortable about discussing our finances and giving with others, (perhaps even our spouse if we are married)? What might this say about how we view money?
  3. What measures of accountability do you have in the area of giving? Do you think discussing your plan for giving with a trusted friend of your spouse is a good idea? Why or why not?
  4. How could you encourage each other and hold each other accountable in the area of finances as a community group? 
  5. In v6, Paul says “whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” Some Christians have erroneously taught that this means God rewards financial giving with financial blessing so that those who are generous always increase their material wealth. How is this understanding inconsistent with the benefits of giving outlined in v7-9? How is it inconsistent with what you know of Jesus' life and teaching?
  6. According to v10-11, who benefits most from giving generously and why? How have you experienced God’s generosity toward you through giving?
  7. While saving our money certainly isn’t wrong, what might a willingness to save and a reluctance to be generous reveal about our willingness to trust God with our future? What are some typical excuses people make for not giving generously? What does a heart that is cheerful about giving reveal?
  8. How does our generosity benefit not only the needy, but God (v12-13)? Why is this important?
  9. How does generosity in the church have the power to help us and others see and experience more and more of the “surpassing grace of God” (v. 14)? (someone might share John's example about color-blindness)

Group Prayer (for during CG gathering)

Pray for our church to be a community of cheerful givers who are growing in their desire to generously support fellow followers of Christ in need around the world. 

Individual Prayer (for during the week)

Ask the Holy Spirit to help you examine your own attitudes about giving in light of what God has done for you in Christ. Be open to taking a bold step of faith in the area of your finances.


WEEK Twelve: A Wealth of Generosity (2 COR. 8:1-15) 

Sermon Audio

To Begin

  • Invite a group member to read the passage aloud. 
  • Invite group members to briefly share anything that stood out to them (like/dislike, surprising, confusing, etc.)

Discussion Questions

Remember, these questions are intended to prompt group conversation about the sermon and scripture passage. Do not attempt to answer every question in your group discussion time. Try to look to the scripture passage as much as possible as you discuss. 

  1. According to 2 Corinthians, where does Christian generosity come from? (Examine verses 1 - 7. What word is most often repeated in these verses?)
  2. How would you describe grace? Can you recount a story or experience where you encountered grace recently? How did this make you feel? (You may also want to discuss the story John mentioned from Les Miserables as an example.)
  3. **You could watch the Les Miserables scene together and discuss. The 3 min clip is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhpwV4cwB4o
  4. Read v2 again. What is the connection between joy and generosity? The more we have the harder it can be to give joyfully and generously. Why do you think that is the case? What can we learn from the Macedonian’s who thought in “extreme poverty overflowed with a wealth of generosity” (ESV)? 
  5. In this week's sermon, John said that faith is "more than a commitment to believe; faith is the willingness to receive." What does this mean? Take some time to discuss what this would look like in your own life/faith?
  6. Read through verses 11 - 15. What does Christian generosity look like based on these verses? What in particular tends to make us uncomfortable with the idea Paul presents in v13-14?  What would our resistance to living this way with other Christians reveal about the way we see money and material possessions? about our faith in God’s sovereignty and provision?
  7. How can the relative affluence of our community serve as an opportunity to grow our faith? How can this affluence be an obstacle to our faith and true community?
  8. Toward the end of the sermon, John stressed that Paul's call to generous living is not about "keeping the balance equal" but about supplying the needs of our brothers and sisters who are in poverty. He mentioned the work of ARDF (Anglican Relief and Development Fund) as one example of how our church is meeting these needs. How else might we might the needs of our poorer neighbors?
  9. Winston Churchill once said, “You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.” In your own life, what is getting in the way of the kind of generosity that Paul encourages in this passage? Can you name any fears or practical concerns that keep you from giving as freely and generously as you might like? How might you address these barriers to giving?
  10. Brainstorm together on some practical ways you can become more joyful and generous with your time, talents, and money?  Are there ways you could practice or encourage generosity as a group?

Group Prayer (for during CG gathering)

The church in Jerusalem was struggling financial while the Corinthians were apparently blessed with material abundance. Identify a group of Christians in our state, nation, and/or world that are in material need and ask God to show your group a way to be generous towards them. Ask God to use is as a powerful witness for Christ.

Individual Prayer (for during the week)

Take an honest look at your finances. Can you honestly way you are being generous? Do you see evidence of sacrificial giving or is it only giving out of the leftovers. Pray and ask God to help you be a good steward of all that he has entrusted to you and find ways to be generous towards those in your life and in our city who are in need.


WEEK Eleven: The joy of Conflict (2 Corinthians 7:2-16)

Sermon Audio

To Begin

  • Invite a group member to read the passage aloud. 
  • Invite group members to briefly share anything that stood out to them (like/dislike, surprising, confusing, etc.)

Discussion Questions

Remember, these questions are intended to prompt group conversation about the sermon and scripture passage. Do not attempt to answer every question in your group discussion time. Try to look to the scripture passage as much as possible as you discuss. 

  1. What are some of the unhealthy ways you have seen people respond to conflict in the church?  What were some of the negative results?
  2. Read v. 4-7. What is the reason for or source of Paul’s affliction? How does Paul find comfort, even joy in the face of his affliction? 
  3. In the sermon, John said, “Paul spoke honestly about what he saw in the Corinthians’s lives. He knew that for the true comfort of Christ to be known in the Corinthians’ lives and his, he would have to suffer through a season of discomfort with them.”  What does this tell us about Paul’s motives and goals in the midst of conflict?
  4. Why are we often so reluctant to speak honestly about the sin in lives of our Christian friends? What does our unwillingness to speak difficult truths to our friends reveal about our priorities in these relationships? 
  5. Read Galatians 6:1 and Matthew 18:15,19-20. What should motived us when we speak honestly with another follower of Christ about their sin? What is the ultimate goal of doing so?
  6. Why is living in a community where we give each other the freedom to speak honestly with each other so costly and risky in the short-run? Why is it so important for the church in the long-run?
  7. Based on v9-10, what is the difference between godly and ungodly grief? Given how often we hurt one another and experience conflict in our relationships, do you regularly experienced this kind of grief for your sin and the sins of others? If not, why do you think that is?
  8. How does Jesus make it possible for us to live with this level of honesty and openness about our sin? 
  9. Read v 3. What will it take for us to experience live in deeper relationships with each other? What do we need to die to? What do we need to live for?
  10. What would be the evidence or marks of a church that was living this way? Do you see this happening in your relationships at Holy Trinity?
  11. Take a few moments to do some self-assessing as a group. Are you witnessing increasing and appropriate levels of openness and vulnerability in your relationships?  Would you say you care for one another enough to say hard things to one another? Are you prepared to hear hard things from one another? Do you see examples of this occurring? What has been the result? If you can’t think of examples, why do you think that is?
  12. How would living this way impact a church’s witness in the broader community? How would it be different that they way the world usually operates?

Group Prayer (for during CG gathering)

Pray and ask the Lord to help you as a group learn to live as people who are willing to “die together and to live together.” 

Individual Prayer (for during the week)

Are there any believers in your life with whom you have been reluctant to experience the “discomfort” of loving honesty? Pray and ask God to remind you of the honesty, grace and love he has shown you and ask him to give you the courage and faith to the same with that person. 


WEEK TEN: TEMPLES OF THE LIVING GOD(2 Cor. 6:14-7:1) 

Sermon Audio

To Begin

  • Invite a group member to read the passage aloud. 
  • Invite group members to briefly share anything that stood out to them (like/dislike, surprising, confusing, etc.)

Discussion Questions

Remember, these questions are intended to prompt group conversation about the sermon and scripture passage. Do not attempt to answer every question in your group discussion time. Try to look to the scripture passage as much as possible as you discuss. 

  1. Most of us know people in the church whose hearts became “closed” to Jesus.  What are some of the reasons people you know have given for leaving the church or abandoning their faith in Christ?
  2. There are many reasons that might cause someone to abandon Christ and the church, but for the Corinthians, Paul points to their willingness to be “unequally yoked to unbelievers” (v14) as a problem. What does it mean to be yoked to someone? What does it mean to be unequally yoked to unbelievers?
  3. What purpose does the list of rhetorical questions in v14-16 serve?  
  4. Is Paul calling for the Corinthians to end all relationships with unbelievers? Why or why not? How would doing so be inconsistent with God’s mission and his call on the church?
  5. Think about the nature of your relationships with those who believe and follow Christ and those who don’t. Is it possible to have close relationships with unbelievers without being yoked to them? How would you characterize the difference between close relationships with believers and unbelievers?
  6. According to v. 16, how are we to think of ourselves as followers of Christ? In the Old Testament what was the significance of the “temple”?
  7. In v. 16, Paul says that temple of God and idols should have nothing to do with each other. Why and what exactly is idolatry? How does idolatry relate to being unequally yoked with unbelievers?
  8. Do you see yourself as a temple of the living God? If we really believed Almighty God dwelled within us, how might it change the way we see ourselves? relate to others?
  9. What are the promises God makes to his people Israel in v.16-18? How are these promises applicable to followers of Christ? Which of these promises do you find most encouraging?
  10. How has the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus free us from the power of idol worship?
  11. What idols are you tempted to bring into the “temple of the living God?” What is the impact of your idol worship on your faith in Jesus?
  12. The truth is we have all given into the temptation of idolatry. Paul says in 7:1 that we must “cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit.” How can we be cleansed? Why does Paul mention both body and spirit?
  13. Why do you think Paul refers to the Corinthian church as “beloved”? Why is this so important for us to recognize when wrestling with our own idolatry?
  14. What does it mean to be holy? Read Hebrews 10:10. How are we made holy? How does the fear of (or reverence of) God help us grow in holiness?
  15. How does unequally yoking ourselves to unbelievers compromise the witness of the church in the world? How does it threaten our devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ?

Group Prayer (for during CG gathering)

Paul sees idols as a very real threat to our devotion to Christ. Idols defile us as God’s temple and divert our worship away from the living God. Read Deuteronomy 12:3 together. Spend some time naming out loud the idols. For each idol, ask the Holy Spirit to “destroy them and wipe the names of these idols” from each others hearts. 

Individual Prayer (for during the week)

Set aside some time to take a long hard look at your relationships (friendships, partnerships, and affiliations) through the lens of the Gospel. Ask God to help you see the ways you have yoked yourself to people and allowed them to introduce idols that compete with God. Ask and receive God’s forgiveness and ask for wisdom in your relationships with unbelievers.


WEEK NINE: Ambassadors for Christ (2 COR. 5:18-6:13)

Sermon Audio

To Begin

  • Invite a group member to read the passage aloud. 
  • Invite group members to briefly share anything that stood out to them (like/dislike, surprising, confusing, etc.)

Discussion Questions

Remember, these questions are intended to prompt group conversation about the sermon and scripture passage. Do not attempt to answer every question in your group discussion time. Try to look to the scripture passage as much as possible as you discuss. 

  1. Ask someone to read 2 Corinthians 5:21 and discuss together as a group. What does Paul mean when he says that he 'made him to be sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God'?
  2. In describing his message, Paul uses the words reconciliation and reconciled five times (5:18-20).  Why did we need to be reconciled with God and how did Christ reconcile us? What is the message of reconciliation?
  3. In vs. 20, Paul mentions that we are to be "ambassadors for Christ" (5:20)? What does this mean, practically speaking? What qualities are necessary to be a good ambassador? Why is the language of "being an ambassador" so fitting for the Christian?
  4. Paul says that God has “entrusted us with the message of reconciliation” (v19) and that “God is making his appeal through us.”  What does this tell us about our role in the world?  Why is it so significant that Paul uses “us” here?
  5. How would living as an “ambassador for Christ" cause you to think and act differently at work, school, or at home? How might Paul's example help you be a more effective ambassador, especially to people who are "turned off" by Christianity?
  6. Why is integrity an integral part of your "ambassadorship" as a Christian? 
  7. In 6:1, Paul appeals to the Corinthians not to "receive the grace of God in vain." What does Paul mean when he says this? Can you think of example from your life of when you received grace? Resisted grace? Is it hard for you to receive grace from others or from God? Why or why not?
  8. Consider Paul’s list of things he has endured for Christ in v4-10. A. J. Gordon once said, "We do not stand in the world bearing witness to Christ, but stand in Christ and so bear witness to the world.” In other words, we do not witness to prove we are God's servants, we witness because we are God's servants. Why is this difference so important?
  9. In his sermon, John said that, "For someone who sees the cross as the supreme statement of God's love it should be no surprise that faithfully proclaiming that love will involve suffering and require endurance." How can we, as individuals and as a church, encourage one another in the midst of suffering?
  10. The title for this sermon series, "Hearts Wide Open”, comes from chapter 6 verse 11. What does it mean to live with a "heart wide open"? In what ways do we tend to “restrict our affections” in our Community Group? Why do we do this?  What can we do to widen our hearts to each other?

Group Prayer (for during CG gathering)

Pray and ask God to give you a vision for living together as ambassadors for Christ with hearts wide open!

Individual Prayer (for during the week)

Think of one person in your life who doesn’t yet know the love of Jesus Christ. Pray for the Lord to help you serve as an ambassador for Christ to that friend. Pray specifically for opportunities to share the message of reconciliation with them. 


WEEK EIGHT: The new creation (2 COR. 5:11-17)

Sermon Audio

To Begin

  • Invite a group member to read the passage aloud. 
  • Invite group members to briefly share anything that stood out to them (like/dislike, surprising, confusing, etc.)

Discussion Questions

Remember, these questions are intended to prompt group conversation about the sermon and scripture passage. Do not attempt to answer every question in your group discussion time. Try to look to the scripture passage as much as possible as you discuss. 

  1. Paul continues to defend his ministry and message in this passage. Based on v11-13,what accusations might Paul's opponents have made about his ministry?
  2. Paul contrasts himself with church leaders who are flashy and polished. Based on v12, what does this reveal about such leaders motives? 
  3. Our culture tends to embrace superficial, polished and flashy leadership. What would a church with this kind of leadership be likely to produce? What makes this so dangerous and harmful to the church?
  4. Based on the passage, John identified two things that motivate Paul and the apostles to puruse Christ and proclaim the Gospel (v11 and v14) What are they?
  5. What is the “Fear of the Lord” (v11) and what ought it produce in us?
  6. In the sermon, John suggested that because our culture is judgment-averse, we are tempted to emphasize the love of Christ and emphasize the judgment of Christ when we share the good news of Jesus. Why is this problematic? Why do we need to emphasize Christ’s judgment and Christ’s love?
  7. How does the cross help us understand and share with others the relationship between Christ’s judgment and love?
  8. According to v14-16, how does the love of Christ “control us”? 
  9. What would leaders who were motivated by Christ’s judgment and love look and act like? What would a church with this kind of leadership be likely to produce?
  10. What does it mean to "regard" someone "according to the flesh" (vs. 16). When, and how, are you tempted to see others this way? as a means or an end?
  11. Read v17. In his sermon on Sunday, John talked about the importance of perceiving rightly - of seeing ourselves and others as God sees us in Christ, with “new creation eyes.” How does this help me see myself honestly and hopefully?
  12. How does seeing others this way challenge some of the judgments we are tempted to make about people who are different from us or disagree with us?
  13. Near the end of his sermon, John gave an example of how seeing with “new creation eyes” challenges us to see our neighbors differently. Read this as a group and discuss how this challenges you personally. 

    Akiel Denkins, is the young, black man who was shot and killed by a Raleigh police officer on Monday, just 10 blocks away.  Is he merely a drug-dealer, another angry young man with a gun?  Or can we see the man involved at Neighbor to Neighbor and attending a Jobs for Life class, known to some of you, trying so hard to turn his life around?  A man who knew the love of Christ and the fear of judgment, whose final moments were a tragedy of circumstances and terrible decision-making that cost him his life?  How do we see D.C. Twiddy, the officer who shot him?  A man who had to make a split-second decision and now must live with it for the rest of his life?  Can we somehow learn to see these two men intertwined in the most awful of ways, in light of the new creation?  As men who will face judgment, but also as men for whom Christ died?

Group Prayer (for during CG gathering)

Pray for Holy Trinity as a community and ask the Holy Spirit to give us “new creation eyes” for each other and those around us. 

Individual Prayer (for during the week)

John described the man he sees in the mirror: “a sinner, whose actions and attitudes are worthy of judgment AND  a man loved by Jesus, for whom he was willing to die on the cross.”  As unworthy as I am, Jesus loved me enough to die for me. At some point this week take a long look in the mirror. Consider the untrue ways you are tempted to see yourself. Pray and ask God to help you see yourself as he does: as His beloved child, fully forgiven and fully loved.


WEEK SEVEN: The Hope of the resurrection (2 COR. 5:1-10)

Sermon Audio

To Begin

  • Invite a group member to read the passage aloud. 
  • Invite group members to briefly share anything that stood out to them (like/dislike, surprising, confusing, etc.)

Discussion Questions

Remember, these questions are intended to prompt group conversation about the sermon and scripture passage. Do not attempt to answer every question in your group discussion time. Try to look to the scripture passage as much as possible as you discuss. 

  1. Discuss as a group the primary way that you conceive of existence in the afterlife. What has shaped this view for you? (this could be previous churches you've attended, popular culture, etc.)
  2. In his sermon, John stressed that Paul teaches that we will be embodied in the afterlife.  Those resurrected to the new life will not just be floating spirits, rather their earthly bodies will be perfected.  Does this sit comfortably with you, or uncomfortably?  Why?
  3. In his sermon, John noted that the hope of resurrection to eternal life with Jesus leads us to long for the future.  Thinking personally, how does "keeping your eyes on the prize" shape your everyday life in the present?
  4. In the midst of the difficulties of life, do you find it challenging to live with an outlook of hope and "to be of good courage"?  How does this passage encourage you in both endeavors?
  5. John mentioned that we know two things for certain about our future from this passage: that there will be a resurrection and a judgment. What is the main characteristic of resurrection life that we see illustrated in verses 1-5? Does this surprise you? Do you often think of eternal life in embodied terms?
  6. How does the fact that you will have a resurrected boy - a glorified body - make you feel? How does it (or does it not) affect how you relate to your body right now? What does this fact - that we will be embodied forever - tell us about bodies, in general, and their importance to God? 
  7. Do you recall how John described the meaning behind the word translated as "groan" in vs. 2? Do you "groan" in this way for resurrection life? Why or why not?
  8. In the second half of the sermon, John talked about the hope of resurrection being that which sustains us in the midst of suffering. Is seeing suffering for what "it really is" - "temporary trials" (to use John's words) enough to sustain us in this life? How might the hope of the resurrection help you to navigate a current trial you are facing? How might you nurture this hope?
  9. John mentioned that "God's grace leads to our gratitude." How might you cultivate gratitude in your relationship with God this week?

WEEK SIX: Jars of Clay (2 COR. 4)

Sermon Audio

To Begin

  • Invite a group member to read the passage aloud. 
  • Invite group members to briefly share anything that stood out to them (like/dislike, surprising, confusing, etc.)

Discussion Questions

Remember, these questions are intended to prompt group conversation about the sermon and scripture passage. Do not attempt to answer every question in your group discussion time. Try to look to the scripture passage as much as possible as you discuss. 

  1. What gives Paul the courage to be authentic and transparent in his ministry?
  2. “Weakness" is usually seen as a negative characteristic to be hidden or overcome. Yet in this passage, Paul exhorts us to embrace our “weakness.” How would Paul define weakness and why does he see it as a good thing?
  3. Paul offers a paradoxical truth: weakness is powerful. John Yates shared how God used weakness and suffering in John Stott's life to strengthen his faith and ministry. How has God used someone else’s weakness in a powerful way to minister to you?
  4. Can you think of a time when God surprised you by using your weakness to minister to others? What makes this so powerful for you? How did it impact others? 
  5. We can often feel intimidated by the prospect of “sharing our faith” with someone. How does being transparent about our weakness give us a powerful opportunity to share Christ with others?
  6. In v7, Paul describes us as having “treasure in jars of clay.”  Recalling how John described ancient pottery, how is this description helpful? How is it challenging?  Why is an understanding of our human fragility so important?
  7. Read v8-12. How does Paul describe our experience of the Christian life? Why do you think Paul stresses this and how does this make you feel? How does this contrast with the way the Christian life is sometimes portrayed?
  8. Read Galatians 2:20 and Colossians 3:1-5. How might Paul’s words in these verses help us understand what it means for us to die to ourselves? How is this kind of dying to self ultimately life-giving for us? How is it life-giving for others in our life (see v10,15)?
  9. In his sermon, John talked about the difference between dying to self and our self-centered way of relating to the world. He mentioned that this happens in the mundane moments of our lives - in the kitchen, in traffic, with our kids. Can you think of a recent example of not dying to yourself? What would dying to yourself have looked like in that moment? How might reflecting on these moments with God help you respond differently in similar circumstances this week? How does this highlight the importance of regular reflection, confession and repentance?
  10. What is one way you can die to yourself this week? What sacrifice might God be inviting you to make in order to better love others?
  11. At the end of his sermon, John mentioned that Paul repeats the phrase "we do not lost heart” at the beginning (v1) and the conclusion (v16) of this passage. Why does Paul emphasize this?
  12. When are you tempted to "lose heart"? How are Paul’s words here an encouragement for you as a follower of Christ?
  13. Church can often become the last place people are willing to be transparent about their weakness or willing to die to self. Why do you think that is? How can we grow in this area at Holy Trinity? What personal steps can you take to help us become a community marked by weakness and self-sacrifice? What steps can your community group take?

Group Prayer (for during CG gathering)

Pray and ask the Lord to help Holy Trinity and your community group to be more transparent about weakness and willing to die to self. 

Individual Prayer (for during the week)

Our self-centeredness often expresses itself in the unguarded moments of the day — when we are hungry, tired, anxious, etc. That means dying to ourselves is not simply a matter of will. It is a work of the Holy Spirit who helps shapes our hearts and minds. Pslam 119:11 encourage us to “hide God’s word in our hearts” for this very reason - so it can shape us. Choose one of the phrases from 2 Cor. 4 or another passage of scripture of encouragement.  Personalize it as a prayer you repeat silently throughout the week. For example, “Lord remind me that in Christ I am afflicted but not crushed.” Make this a regular practice and allow the Holy Spirit and God’s word to shape your heart and mind. 


WEEK FIVE: THE POWER OF THE SPIRIT (2 COR. 3:4-3:18)

Sermon Audio

To Begin

  • Invite a group member to read the passage aloud. 
  • Invite group members to briefly share anything that stood out to them (like/dislike, surprising, confusing, etc.)

Discussion Questions

Remember, these questions are intended to prompt group conversation about the sermon and scripture passage. Do not attempt to answer every question in your group discussion time. Try to look to the scripture passage as much as possible as you discuss. 

This week's passage is particularly difficult at times and requires close reading and background information to fully understand what Paul is saying. Consider reading this short explanation of the passage online. 

  1. How do people typically prove they are qualified for a job or role? In v4-6, what does Paul say qualifies him as a competent minister for Christ? Why is this remarkable and so significant for Paul?
  2. Do you think of yourself as a minister for Christ? Why or why not? What makes you competent or sufficient for this role? Why is this important to remember?
  3. In his sermon, John explained that v7 refers back to Exodus 32 when Moses received the law from God at Mt. Sinai. Why did Moses use a veil when he came down from the mountain? How does this Old Testament story relate to our New Testament passage?
  4. Paul refers to the Old Covenant as the ministry of death (v7) and the ministry of condemnation(v9). Why does Paul refer to the Old Covenant in these terms?
  5. Why is the New Covenant described as a "ministry of righteousness"? (vs. 9). How does the New Covenant surpass the Old?
  6. In the Old Testament the Hebrew word for glory (kavod) points to the radiance and beauty of the Lord. In the New Testament the Greek word for glory (doxa) most often refers to the awe-inspiring presence of the Lord.  With this in mind, how does Paul contrast the glory of God that Moses experienced with the glory of God that we experience? What makes this difference possible?
  7. John's said in his sermon: "You are a creature of surpassing glory because you are the object of unending love." Do you believe this? How might believing that we are "the objects of unending love" change how we live? How we interact with others? 
  8. Read verses 17 & 18. What is Paul saying about the goal of our lives as Christ followers? 
  9. What is the connection between the presence of the Lord (the Spirit) and Christian freedom? 
  10. John begun and ended his sermon with the story about the motivational posters he saw at the Y which encouraged him to achieve "awesomeness" and to "work out until you're proud.” How might believing that God’s glory is within impact your motives at work or school or church? in your marriage or with your kids? in friendships with those that don’t know Jesus?
  11. In his sermon, John reminded us that, "how you feel about yourself does not ultimately matter.  It is what God says about you and does within you that matters."  Do you agree? What do you believe God thinks or feels about you? Why?
  12. How has the presence of Christ in your life offered you assurance in the face of struggles with self-doubt, failure, fear or anxiety

Group Prayer (for during CG gathering)

Paul says that there are those whose eyes are unable to see Christ because they were hardened against God. Many of us have friends and family members for whom the veil remains unlifted. But in Christ there is hope that they might “turn to the Lord.”  Pray together for the eyes of people in your life to be opened to Jesus and his glory. Pray for God to give you boldness to live unveiled lives so that God’s glory in you might be evident.

Individual Prayer (for during the week)

Pray and ask God to help you to believe the great promise that his glory is within you.  Ask the Holy Spirit to replace the lies you are tempted to believe about who you are and what you are worth with the fact that you have been given the indwelling glory of Christ. 


Week FOUR: The Scent of Life (2 Cor. 2:12-3:6)

Sermon Audio

To Begin

  • Invite a group member to read the passage aloud. 
  • Invite group members to briefly share anything that stood out to them (like/dislike, surprising, confusing, etc.)

Discussion Questions

Remember, these questions are intended to prompt group conversation about the sermon and scripture passage. Do not attempt to answer every question in your group discussion time. Try to look to the scripture passage as much as possible as you discuss. 

  1. In our passage, Paul uses numerous metaphors and analogies. As a group, see how many you can identify. Why do you think he does this and how does it help communicate his message to the Corinthians? 
  2. Earlier in 2:4 Paul explains that he is writing this letter out of “much affliction and anguish of heart, with many tears.” In v13, Paul says his spirit was not at rest and yet v14 begins “But thanks be to God.” How do you account for Paul’s gratitude in the face of his current circumstances?
  3. What does it mean that we are the "aroma" of Christ to God? to the world? Why do you think Paul uses this particular metaphor? (v14-16)
  4. As David noted in his sermon, Paul says in this passage that giving off the aroma of Jesus requires being honest about your weaknesses.  Why is it that we find vulnerability so difficult?  How does the Gospel transform our perspective on weakness and vulnerability?
  5. Read 2:14. In his sermon, David noted that in the Roman Empire, generals would return from war parading those whom they conquered through the streets in route to their execution. Paul sees himself as conquered by Jesus and being led unto the death of his sinful self.  Why would Paul point to this in support of the authenticity of his ministry and message? 
  6. How does our suffering for Christ point others to Christ's suffering for us on the cross?
  7. Can you describe a time when suffering (either yours, or someone you know) became a means of testifying to Christ and to the power of the Gospel?
  8. Read and discuss the meaning of 2:17. How are we tempted to “peddle” God’s word or even Christ for our own gain?
  9. Paul suggests that being the aroma of Christ requires sincerity.  With your group, discuss the popular conception of “sincerity” or “authenticity” in our contemporary culture.  Now thinking about this passage and the example of Christ, how is Christian sincerity distinct from the popular cultural notion of sincerity?
  10. What is the connection between Christian sincerity and daily time alone with Christ? What can happen if we neglect this time?
  11. David said that "to be sincere we have to be absolutely convinced of and compelled by Christ's love for us." How might we, practically speaking, remind ourselves of the truth of God's love for us?
  12. Read 3:1-3. Paul uses the metaphor of letters of recommendation. What do these letters “say”? What do they “prove”?
  13. Paul suggests here that the work of the Holy Spirit is not impossible to discern. Based on v1-3, what should we look for to determine if the Spirit is at work in our lives and the lives of those around us?
  14. Read 3:4-6What gives us confidence before God? What does it mean that "our sufficiency is from God"? Is that true for you, in your life?
  15. How does self-sufficiency short-circuit our ability to be faithful witnesses of Jesus Christ?
  16. Do you believe that you are the most effective witness for the Gospel of Jesus? What makes this true? Why are we inclined not to believe this?

Group Prayer (for during CG gathering)

Begin your prayer time by reading Philippians 3:7-12. In light of Paul's own prayer regarding suffering, pray for one another. 

Individual Prayer (for during the week)

Richard Baxter once said, "Be careful not unsay with your lives what you say with your tongues."  None of us are perfect. We all make have mixed motives and act in ways inconsistent with our faith. And yet we believe that Christ is at work in us, making us more and more like him as our trust in him grows. Job prayed ""How many are my iniquities and sins? Make known to me my rebellion and my sin." Spend some time in prayer this week asking the Holy Spirit to reveal and redeem those places in your thinking and behavior that are inconsistent with who you are in Christ. 


WEEK TWO: GODLY LEADERSHIP IN A TIME OF CRISIS (2 Cor. 1:12-2:11)

Sermon Audio

To Begin

  • Invite a group member to read the passage aloud. 
  • Invite group members to briefly share anything that stood out to them (like/dislike, surprising, confusing, etc.)

Discussion Questions

Remember, these questions are intended to prompt group conversation about the sermon and scripture passage. That means you don't need to answer every question. Try to look to the scripture passage as much as possible as you discuss. 

  1. What was happening in the context of the Apostle Paul's relationship with the Corinthian church that led to this letter? What was the source of conflict and how did Paul respond? 
  2. In v 12-14, Paul defends himself against accusations from some members of the Corinthian church.  Based on these verses, what do you think he was being accused of?
  3. Paul refuses to boast in his own strengths and abilities, but rather in "the testimony of my conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God" (v. 12). What is our conscience? What role does our conscience play in our seeking to live out our faith with simplicity and sincerity? 
  4. In his sermon, John observed that Paul’s defends himself not to uphold his own honor, but to uphold the honor of Jesus Christ. What does it look like to honor Jesus when we experience interpersonal conflict?
  5. With verse 12 in mind, can you think of someone close to you who exhibits spiritual maturity in demonstrating true simplicity and sincerity in their faith? This could be a family member, a friend or a fellow church member. Describe what it is like to be in the presence of this person and what you find compelling about their faith and witness.
  6. In the sermon, John stressed that "the gospel demands integrity and the gospel creates accountability."  What is the Gospel? Why does the Gospel demand these things? 
  7. In the sermon, John said “We hesitate to hold each other accountable because it can be awkward.  No normal person enjoys interpersonal conflict, so we avoid it.  But we hesitate to hold others accountable for a deeper reasons.   We are afraid of being rejected. We are afraid of being held accountable ourselves.” Do you agree? Why or why not? It may feel easier to avoid conflict and accountability, but what are the costs of not holding one another accountable? (consider personally/corporately, impacts on the witness of the church, etc.)
  8. Based on our passage, what characteristics in our relationships make true accountability possible?
  9. We tend to believe that we can grow spiritual on our own (through our devotion, study, and private prayer). While these things are important, based on our passage, why is this not enough? Why is it dangerous to see accountability as an optional component of our life in Christ? 
  10. What are some ways your CG can help foster Godly accountability in your shared life? 
  11. Invite someone to read 2:5-11 for the group. In the midst of conflict, why is it so important for our words and motives to be consistent with the grace of God? Most of us have experienced accountability without grace. Share an instance when someone held you accountable and demonstrated grace. What was the impact on your relationship?
  12. Read 2 Corinthians 1:19-20. In his sermon, John observed that “the call to integrity and accountability is not primarily about saying “no” to the things we shouldn’t do.  It is about saying, “yes” to Jesus together, because in him God has said, “yes” to us, and the greatest life we can possibly live is one that is dedicated to his glory.” What might it indicate about our hearts if we think integrity and accountability are primarily about saying “no”? Do you see evidence of this tendency in our community? in your life?
  13. How does Jesus “yes” to us free us to experience integrity and accountability with God and with one another? 

Group Prayer (for during CG gathering)
Dietrich Bonhoeffer once observed, "Sin demands to have a man by himself. It withdraws him from the community. The more isolated a person is, the more destructive will be the power of sin over him." Set aside time to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to help your community group move towards a more Godly level of transparency, accountability and grace. 

Individual Prayer (for during the week)

Secrets and grace don't go together. What cultivates a double-life and secrets is the fear of being rejected. And double lives give us permission to keep on sinning.  Without integrity and accountability we are robbed of the opportunity to experience repentance, forgiveness and freedom from the power of sin. We miss out on the grace that is ours in Christ.  If there is secret sin in your life, ask God to help you confess it and receive his forgiveness. Share your struggle with one trusted Christian friend and ask them to pray with you for forgiveness and freedom from the power of that sin in your life. 



Week One: Comfort in Affliction (2 Cor. 1:1-11)

Sermon Audio

To Begin

  • Invite a group member to read the passage aloud. 
  • Invite group members to briefly share anything that stood out to them (like/dislike, surprising, confusing, etc.)

Discussion Questions

Remember, these questions are intended to prompt group conversation about the sermon and scripture passage. Do not attempt to answer every question. It is recommended that CG leaders pre-select 4-6 questions to help facilitate discussion. 

  1. There were some teachers in the church at Corinth who were making hurtful and false accusations against Paul, claiming his suffering was a sign that he was unfit for ministry. What line of logic might lead them to such a conclusion? Why is this problematic based on what we know about Jesus?
  2. Based on the opening verses of 2 Corinthians 1, what does Paul emphasize in his response to this conflict?
  3. How might Paul’s response serve as a model for how we respond to conflict in our relationships and in the church?
  4. John said, “Conflict in God’s family is meant to be temporary; this makes confession, forgiveness and reconciliation are necessary.”  How is this encouraging? How is this challenging?
  5. John said often “the heat of conflict reveals the heart of a person…our true selves get exposed in our anger or frustration.” What are some of the unhealthy/unhelpful ways we tend to respond to conflict in relationships? What corresponding fears, insecurities, and false beliefs do these reveal?
  6. Underline in your Bible each time "suffering" is mentioned or alluded to in vv 3-11. What are some of the different "types" of suffering Paul alludes to?
  7. John said that suffering is to be expected for all of us - there is no special protection for Christians against suffering. Why is this so important to realize?
  8. If God is in control of everything and we experience suffering in this life, what might we be tempted to think about God? 
  9. The Bible claims that suffering is not caused by God and is rooted in sin. It is one of the consequences of living in a fallen, broken world (Gen. 3&4; Romans 5:12). Why is it important to understand the difference between God allowing suffering and God causing suffering?
  10. How has suffering impacted your understanding and relationship with God, positively and/or negatively?  
  11. According to vv 8-9, what possible good can come from suffering? 
  12. Can you think of a specific example where God used suffering for good in your life or the life of someone else?  
  13. Read v.5. According to Paul, we share in Christ’s sufferings. What does this reveal about what God is like and how he relates to us in our suffering?
  14. Underline the word comfort in v. 3-11.  Who receives this comfort and what is the source of this comfort? 
  15. Why is it important that we first receive comfort from God? How does this enable us to comfort others?
  16. How does the death and resurrection of Jesus encourage us and give us hope in your suffering - in the face of sickness, addiction, accident, abuse, depression, even death?
  17. Why do Christians so often attempt to hide or keep their suffering private? Based on these verses, why does keeping our suffering private inhibit our ability to comfort one another? To share Christ with others?
  18. Are we as a community group being vulnerable and honest about our sufferings? If not, why? 
  19. How do you think Paul's openness in sharing the realities of his Christian experience affected his relationship with the Corinthians?

Group Prayer
Groups may use these suggestions to pray together when they gather. 

Each Sunday when we take communion , we say together:

Christ has died.
Christ has risen.
Christ will come again.

These powerful words reminds us that our God suffers with us (Christ death on the cross); that our God saves us from suffering (Christ conquered the power of sin and death); and that our God will one day end all suffering for ever (the hope of Jesus' return). Have someone read these out loud as prompts during your prayer time, allowing people to reflect and pray silently or allowed in response to each. 

Individual Prayer (during the week)

Set aside some time to read 2 Corinthians 1:1-11. In what ways are you experiencing suffering? Ask God to bring you comfort and to trust that he loves you, is with you and is able to use your suffering for good.  Ask God to give you the chance to share the comfort you receive with someone else in your life who may be suffering.