Home > The Not-Very-Persecuted Church > The NVP Church Study Guide: Chapter 1

The NVP Church Study Guide: Chapter 1

Posted by admin on January 3, 2012

An interactive study guide where we can join in conversation together...

Chapter 1: Who Are the Not-Very-Persecuted?Chapter_1.PNG

 

Questions 1.1:

1. What stories have you heard about Christians under persecution?

2. Is there anything about those groups that you envy?

3. Have you ever experienced persecution?

4. How could your community pray for Christians who are being persecuted today?

These opening questions let us get all the stories of persecution that we have heard about or experienced out on the table in front of us. Hopefully, as you discuss them with each other, you'll recognize the pieces of those stories that might appeal to you. We can also see, if the stories you know are those of the Persecuted Church, that our lives are not like that. We have our own struggles, but our lives are not at stake.

Feel free to link to some stories of persecution that have touched you. Let's pray for the Persecuted Church as we prepare to talk about those of us who are Not-Very-Persecuted.

Questions 1.2:

1. Have you ever felt or behaved like Sally?

2. How do you react when your dedication to your community is questioned by another church member?

3. Have you ever felt or behaved like Joe?

4. How do you react when someone from outside questions your church membership?

5. How could some of these reactions be helpful? How could they hurt?

These are not questions with good or bad answers. Joe and Sally themselves are not described here as representatives of good or bad people. It can be good to identify closely with a specific church body . . . and then there can be bad ways to react when that identity is attacked. It can be good to identify with people who aren't totally connected to a specific church body . . . and then there can be bad ways to react when churches are ridiculed. Hopefully, these questions can help us to look at the ways we are like Sally and the ways we are like Joe and, given those realities, live out our God-given callings.

 

Notice, this week, how you respond in any conversations about church, God, and/or religion with people inside and outside the church. Where do you join in enthusiastically? Where do you get uncomfortable and change the subject?

Questions 1.3:

1. Read Acts 18:1—19:1. What does this background tell you about the followers of Christ in Corinth?

2. Review some of the areas where the Corinthian followers of Christ were interacting with other Corinthians.

3. When you interact with non-Christians, how well do you fit in with them?

4. What are some assumptions and behaviors that you share with the rest of your culture?

We are so used to defining ourselves as Christians by the phrase "not of this world." And there ought to be clear differences in some areas, especially in things that have to do with ethics, things that are right or wrong. But here, we want to look at elements of culture that aren't right or wrong, good or bad. They just are part of the way we do things in this time and place in history.

So imagine that visitors from Victorian England, or from Papua New Guinea, or even from the first century came and stayed with you for a week. From their perspective, how are your church, your family, and your own behaviors a part of the culture you live in?

 

Notice this week the way your clothes, your language, your buying habits, your daily routines, your feelings about the right ways to do things are or are not the same as the non-Christians that you know. Remember, this is not necessarily good or bad. It's just part of living at a particular time and place.

Comments:

Posted by admin on
I heard the same stories about Brother Andrew and people who suffered for Christ behind the Iron Curtain. In fact, a youth group activity was to pretend we were in a communist country and then the youth group leader would ask us if we were willing to lay down our lives for Christ. I always answered, "no" and that frustrated him because he knew I wanted to live for Christ. But I am such a coward and a people pleaser! I knew I would not have had the courage.

For a summer in college I stayed in Austria with a missionary family. The dad broadcasted the Gospel into Russia. Occasionally some of these Russian believers would come to visit. I learned some German to interact them. They were serious about their faith and that had lost everything for it.

I fit in with unbelievers when we are doing a project in common. Other than that, I may not cross their paths.
Posted by admin on
Thanks for sharing a bit of your story, Barbara. I like that you answered, "no." For me, it's because I'm a firm believer that we can create imaginary situations all we like . . . we never really know how we will act until we are in it for real!
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