A Sermon Series with Intentional Small Group Discussions
Conversations about important topics swirl around us. First Baptist Church is providing an opportunity to discuss some of these topics in a Christian format.
From Sunday, Oct. 15 through Sunday, Nov. 12, Pastor Noel will preach a 5-part sermon series called “Christian Conversations.” Each sermon will seek to inform and inspire further conversation about a certain topic. Subsequent to each sermon, small groups will hold a structured one-hour discussion on that week’s topic. The schedule for the series will be:
Oct. 15: “How Can Christians Have Disagreement Without Division?”
Oct. 22: “How Do Christians View the End Times?”
Oct. 29: “How Should Christians Relate to Muslims?”
Nov. 5: “How Does Christian Faith Apply to Ecological Concerns?”
Nov. 12: “How Does Holy Scripture Relate to LGBTQ Persons?”
Those who wish to participate in small groups can sign up for a Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. time slot with childcare provided or a Sunday at 4:00 p.m. time slot without childcare provided.* Ministerial staff will assign participants to small groups and provide a facilitator for each group. Wednesday groups will be the only adult “Deeper” study during the five-week period (Wednesdays Oct. 18 through Nov. 15).
The purpose of this program is fivefold: 1) to address topics that many church members have indicated interest in, 2) to model a distinctly Christian approach to discussing controversial topics, 3) to grow in our faith individually and collectively, 4) to practice the priesthood of all believers by sharing the ministry of the word with one another, and 5) to maintain unity in Christ amid our disagreements. The purpose of the program is not to take a congregational vote or to achieve agreement on everything.
Guiding Covenant for Christian Conversations: G-R-A-C-E **
Generating trust and confidentiality within the group.
Respecting each person as a child of God.
Allowing for individuals to speak openly and honestly.
Creating a safe, non-threatening space for Christian conversation.
Employing the Baptist practice of the priesthood of all believers by offering and receiving insights in a spirit of mutuality.
*Sunday groups will meet at 5:00 p.m. on Oct. 22 because our Fall Festival is from 3:00-5:00 that day.
** This covenant is adapted from materials produced by First Baptist Church, Athens, GA.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Do I have to be a church member to participate?
Answer: No, but you have to be a professing Christian who is involved in our church.
Question: What age groups is this program designed for?
Answer: It is for college-aged persons and up. Our youth group (sixth through twelfth graders) will be holding parallel discussions in their Wednesday evening “Endeavor” meetings during the same time period.
Question: If I sign up to participate, do I have to talk at the small group sessions?
Answer: No one will be forced to talk in the small groups but all will be invited to share their thoughts.
Question: Why these particular topics?
Answer: There are three main reasons. First, church members have expressed interest in these topics to ministerial staff on multiple occasions. Second, these topics drew high interest in a recent survey of four adult Bible Study classes. Third, no topic in this series has received sermon-length treatment since Noel Schoonmaker became Pastor in 2013 (while other topics have, including women in ministry, immigration, Calvinism, racism, “Is Jesus the only way,” the Bible and slavery, etc.).