Introduction to Friends

Zion Friends Training is designed to train new leaders about the basics of leading others into healthy friendships. At the end of our two sessions you can expect to:

• Understand your value as a Friends Leader in the lives of others and recognize your importance in Zion’s mission to reach people for Jesus.

• Understand the basics of leading a Friend group and what resources will be available to assist you.

• Be in a position to lead people in their next steps of faith during the semester.

VISION OF ZION FRIENDS

To promote friendship, missional community, and leadership development with the goal of bringing new friends to Jesus.

MISSION OF ZION FRIENDS

To Engage individuals and families, inside and outside of the church by creating and environment where people can take steps in their relationship with Jesus through community.

FORMAT OF ZION FRIENDS

Friends is made up of a group of 8 to 12 people. It will follow a PEP strategy: Play for 20 minutes, Encourage for 25 minutes, Pray for 15 minutes. The group will formally dismiss after an hour together. They will meet in either home or public environments. Friends will start with a video opener and questions will be prepared for the group from the weekend messages.

LEVELS OF LEADERSHIP FROM JOHN MAXWELL

In his book Successful People Lead John Maxwell lays out the foundation of leadership development. This is the basis of where we want to take our people during the journey of our Friends group.

Level 1 - Position

People follow you because they have to. Position is the lowest level of leadership — the entry level. The only influence a positional leader has is that which comes with the job title. Positional leadership is based on the rights granted by the position and title. Nothing is wrong with having a leadership position. Everything is wrong with using position to get people to follow you. Position is a poor substitute for influence. People who make it only to Level 1 may be bosses, but they are never leaders. They have subordinates, not team members. They rely on rules, regulations, policies, and organizational charts to control their people. Their people will only follow them within the stated boundaries of their authority. And their people will usually do only what is required of them. When positional leaders ask for extra effort or time, they rarely get it. Positional leaders usually have difficulty working with volunteers, younger people, and the highly educated. Why? Because positional leaders have no influence, and these types of people tend to be more independent. Position is the only level that does not require ability and effort to achieve. Anyone can be appointed to a position.

Level 2 - Permission

People follow you because they want to. Level 2 is based entirely on relationships. On the Permission level, people follow because they want to. When you like people and treat them as individuals who have value, you begin to develop influence with them. You develop trust. The environment becomes much more positive — whether at home, on the job, at play, or while volunteering. The agenda for leaders on Level 2 isn’t preserving their position. It’s getting to know their people and figuring out how to get along with them. Leaders find out who their people are. Followers find out who their leaders are. People build solid, lasting relationships. You can like people without leading them, but you cannot lead people well without liking them. That’s what Level 2 is about.

Level 3 - Production

People follow you because of what you have done for the organization. One of the dangers of getting to the Permission level is that a leader may be tempted to stop there. But good leaders don't just create a pleasant working environment. They get things done! That’s why they must move up to Level 3, which is based on results. On the Production level, leaders gain influence and credibility, and people begin to follow them because of what they have done for the organization. Many positive things begin happening when leaders get to Level 3. Work gets done, morale improves, profits go up, turnover goes down, and goals are achieved. It is also on Level 3 that momentum kicks in. Leading and influencing others becomes fun on this level. Success and productivity have been known to solve a lot of problems. On Level 3, leaders can become change agents. They can tackle tough problems and face thorny issues. They can make the difficult decisions that will make a difference. They can take their people to another level of effectiveness.

Level 4 - People Development

People follow you because of what you have done for them. Leaders become great not because of their power but because of their ability to empower others. That is what leaders do on Level 4. They use their position, relationships, and productivity to invest in their followers and develop them until those followers become leaders in their own right. The result is reproduction; Level 4 leaders reproduce themselves. Production may win games, but People Development wins championships. Two things always happen on Level 4. First, teamwork goes to a very high level because the high investment in people deepens relationships, helps people to know one another better, and strengthens loyalty. Second, performance increases because there are more leaders on the tam, and they help to improve everybody’s performance. Level 4 leaders change the lives of the people they lead, and the people follow them because of that. Their relationships are often lifelong.

Level 5 - Pinnacle

People follow you because of who you are and what you represent. The highest and most difficult level of leadership is the Pinnacle. While most people can learn to climb to Levels 1 through 4, Level 5 requires not only effort, skill, and intentionality but also a high level of talent. Only naturally gifted leaders ever make it to this highest level. Level 5 leaders develop people to become Level 4 leaders. Developing leaders to the point where they are able to willing to develop other leaders is the most difficult leadership task of all. But here are the payoffs: Level 5 leaders develop Level 5 organizations. They create opportunities that other leaders don’t. Their leadership gains a positive reputation. They create legacy in what they do. As a result, Level 5 leaders often transcend their position, their organization, and sometimes their industry. pgs. 5-10

Maxwell, John C. How Successful People Lead: Taking Your Influence to the next Level. First ed. New York, NY: Center Street, 2011.

SESSION 1

PLAY

Take the first 10 minutes to grab some food, get to know the other leaders around you, and unwind from the day. Note Cards: Write 1 thing you expect God to do in your Friends Group this semester. (please write your name on the card.)

WHAT IS A FRIENDS GROUP?

Zion Friends is a gathering of believers during the week, led by a leader with the purpose of:

  1. Building friendships based around Jesus Christ - We are all designed for relationships. By being in a godly community we are doing life together and growing in the ways of Jesus. We can care for each other, celebrate in the good times, and support each other in the difficult times.
  2. Bringing others to Jesus Christ - Being in a weekly meeting gives us the opportunity to invite others who may not feel comfortable coming to church on a Sunday but would visit a restaurant on a Tuesday. By inviting others to our group we become engaged in the Great Commission.
  3. Developing new leaders - In community, we can recognize the leadership potential of others. By recognizing and developing the leadership potential in others, we stir them into good works. This will greatly increase the effectiveness of our church and the introduction of our community to the kingdom of God.

THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE BELIEVERS

Take a moment to read Acts 2:42-47 (NIV) and see how the early church engaged in similar activities to what we now call small groups. “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

HOSTING AN INVITING ENVIRONMENT

We all enjoy a great environment. Whether we’re dining at our favorite restaurant or enjoying a play in an iconic theatre, environment adds so much to an experience. In our group, it's important to create a fun and enjoyable experience and part of this is the environment we establish. Be aware of these key factors: • Lighting - Is it too dim to see facial expressions? Maybe it’s too bright or the sun shines in and blasts half of your group. • Smell - You’re all going to laugh at this one, but honestly no one can enjoy an hour if they are distracted by an unidentified odor. Make sure the environment that you have chosen has comfortable AC/heat, smells clean, and has nice airflow. Use candles, Febreeze, or open the window (but be sensitive to those with allergies); make sure you’re preparing the environment. • Noise - Is the playlist so loud you can’t hear your group members? Is it so quiet you feel you have to whisper? Be aware of the background noise. It should add to the overall experience and not take away from it. • Restrooms - Are the restrooms clean? The group lasts for an hour. Someone is going to need to use the restroom. If we’re inviting new people and the restrooms are dirty, we have just seriously decreased the chance they will return. Let’s clean our restrooms and if we’re choosing a place to meet, make sure they take restroom cleanliness seriously. • Food - We should always have water and some other drinks available for people to enjoy. Whether we’re setting up some snacks in our house or meeting at a restaurant, we need to know our food options and be able to order accordingly for people to enjoy some snacking while they’re making friends and learning. There is something about friendship and food and its eternal connection. Take advantage of one of the greatest resources to growth – good food.

BUILDING FUN AND FRIENDSHIP INTO YOUR GROUP

After we’ve established and set up a great environment we want to focus on building a healthy friendship culture. We believe the Holy Spirit travels best on the highway of friendship. There is something powerful about building friendships based on the premise of introducing them to Christ. Everyone enjoys great friends and everyone needs great friends. This is the very purpose of Friends, to connect to other believers through friendships based on Jesus.

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17). As we are in godly friendship, we become more like Christ. We are “sharpened” and more equipped to fulfill the purpose of God in our lives. There truly is something supernatural about rejoicing with each other in the good times and being there for each other in the difficult times. (Romans 12:15: “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”)

• Begin with faith - You’re going to have to make an effort to say hi to someone new, and you have to take a step of faith and be vulnerable and genuinely begin to reach out. Be willing to be bold enough to invite that person to join your group. Be willing to say hi to that stranger across the table. Some of you social butterflies have no problem doing this while some of our introverts are already sweating at the thought. But, we believe God has called you to lead this group. He has an anointing on you and you are capable, even anointed, to make friends for the purpose of introducing them to your great friend – Jesus.

• Win the person - Making a genuine effort to relate to them goes a long way, just like the classic saying goes, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” This quote rings so true for our new friends. These groups don’t exist to give groundbreaking knowledge. They don’t exist to win arguments. They exist to win people and make friends. We can win an argument and lose the person, which would be a loss for us. We want to patiently love and teach people into the fullness of God.

• Live to give - If the beginning of a friendship is faith, the growth of that friendship is giving. All relationships are like bank accounts. Both parties have to make deposits into the account. Both will need to make withdrawals as time goes on, but it's imperative to live to give. Begin giving into your friendship early on. For example, everyone loves to talk about himself or herself. Take a break from talking about yourself and your family and allow the other person to have the floor for a while. Search for areas where the two of you have common ground and begin there. Be careful not to ‘one up’ your new friend. When the conversation is done, make sure you committed their name to memory and repeat their name as you say goodbye. Studies have shown that using a person’s name after meeting them makes them feel valued, remembered, and important. This is exactly how we want every guest to feel in our Friends Group! They are valuable and important to Jesus. Because they are important to Jesus they are important to us. Our groups exist for the purpose of people!

CONCEPTS TO CONSIDER FROM LIFECHURCH.TV

“Throughout the history of our church, thousands of people just like you have stepped up to the plate to lead. Over time, common characteristics that define successful LifeGroup leaders have become very clear.”

  1. Own the vision and direction for your LifeGroup. Begin by asking yourself these questions: a. What is your vision for your group, and what type of group will it be? b. How will you recruit people for the group? c. What discussion/learning content will you use? d. What activities will you do? e. How and when will you transition the group?
  2. Jump right into your role, and be willing to learn “in the game.”
  3. Know the triggers at your campus that will help your group grow. Be proactive in inviting people to your group by:

    • Spending time in the lobby between worship experiences.

    • Using your social media avenues to invite people weekly.

  1. Developing others through coaching
  2. Be there for your group.
  3. Maintain your own vibrant spiritual life.
  4. Replicate your leadership in others.
  5. Support your group when they experience a personal crisis. “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
  6. Take ownership of your own development as a leader. Utilize tools and resources designed to fuel growth.
  7. Be willing to receive feedback and become more self-aware

CLOSING QUESTIONS

  1. What kinds of relationships do you picture developing in your group?
  2. How would you like to see people grow because of your group?
  3. How will the community be affected because of your group?

CLOSE IN PRAYER

Celebrate, receive requests, and pray for each other in a group.  

SESSION 2

PLAY

Take the first 10 minutes to grab some food, get to know the other leaders around you, and unwind from the day. During the session, take time to meet everyone in the group of leaders and exchange phone numbers. Get to know each other so you can have cross group learning going on during the semester.

NOTE CARDS

Take a moment and write down what you learned from Session 1 that really empowered you to be a better small group leader. (Don’t forget to put your name on it.)

GOING OVER THE CURRICULUM

Friends curriculum will come in two forms: a short video and several questions from the weekend message. As a Friends leader, your role will be to facilitate these questions for a healthy conversation about the weekend message so everyone can learn more about Jesus and Zion. Remember, we operate in a PEP strategy. When we get together we Play for 20 minutes, then we go over the message and Encourage for 25 minutes and then Pray for 15 minutes.

• Play - Friendship development, making new friends, grabbing some food, and just unwinding from a stressful day is the goal. Order some food and play a game so people can come in and just enjoy some “unwind” time right from the beginning. It’s hard to make friends and hear from God when you're stressed out about budgets and bosses. Give everyone this time to relax, smile and reconnect to each other and God.

• Encourage - This is the core of the group’s time together. Pastor Jared wants to continue the teaching of the Word throughout the week so people stay built up, connected, and excited for the next weekend. Every week will have a new video and questions based on the weekend message.

• Pray – Closing in prayer will give an opportunity for testimonies and for ministry. Do not dismiss the group without a time of prayer.

GUIDING (NOT CONTROLLING) THE CONVERSATION

We want you to lead, but not dominate, conversation. We want you, the leader, to inspire community in your group. If you’re talking for a straight 25 minutes, it leaves no room for anyone else's thoughts. The goal of our group is friendship and leadership development, so we need others to come out of their shell, give their opinions, and explore their thoughts about God.

• Be very conscious of how much time you’re talking. Ask the question and remain silent for a moment, giving others the time to speak.

• When people share, make sure not to shoot down their idea. They might be a little wrong, but we don’t want them to leave feeling stupid. We want all new believers to feel they can give an opinion and ask questions without the fear of being humiliated.

• Allow yourself to talk for about two minutes at a time and then throw the discussion to the group. The best group is when everyone participates in the conversation.

NOT LETTING ANYONE ELSE RUN THE GROUP

We’ve instructed you to guard yourself against dominating the conversation and we REALLY don't want anyone else dominating the conversation either. Sometimes people view a group as their own personal platform where they can share their “doctoral thesis on God.” Few things are more damaging to a group than a disgruntled Christian who feels no one wants to hear what they have to say. As the leader, it is your responsibility to make sure no one ruins group conversation. You can typically guide the conversation to others by thanking that person for their viewpoint and then asking the group what they think. If a person dominates the entire night and missed gentle hints, you will need to talk to them afterward and we want to do this in a kind and loving way. If you have spoken to them and they still continue to try to dominate conversations, it is now time to bring the matter to your co-leader or the Friends Director. We definitely don’t want to leave you handling a difficult situation on your own, please reach out for help if you need it.

USING SOCIAL MEDIA

Social media has become the preferred way of communicating for an entire generation. We want to take full advantage of any and every means possible to promote Friends. We want to encourage you to post personally on your Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and/or Facebook at least once a week about your group.

In posting about your group, it's important that you rely heavy on images. Don’t exhaust your post with a theological dissertation. Simply post how your group is having fun and doing life together. Social media is not the platform to win arguments or try to convince people, but a place to be kind and social. Remember, the goal of our group is to promote Christian friendship; we can win an argument but lose the person. The goal here is to win people. Zion will post 3 times a week about Friends. If every leader takes advantage of this, we will have solid social media coverage. In addition, encourage your friends to do the same. The more people who post, the stronger presence we will have in the social community.

INVITING A LOST FRIEND

We are praying, hoping for, and even expecting your group to invite other people to Jesus. If we’re not bringing people to Jesus, we are off mission. Every ministry in this church is under the mandate of Matthew 28 and our highest desire is that your group falls directly in line with that mission. Because we know inviting a friend, family member, or acquaintance to a small group can be intimidating, we want to give you a basic strategy and let you know that we will work with you all semester long to help you grow your group.

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. -Matthew 28:18-20, NKJV

A simple strategy:

  1. Write down five friends or family members who do not know Jesus as their Savior this week.
  2. Begin to pray for them by name for an entire week.
  3. After a week of prayer, it’s now time to act. We don’t just want to talk to God about our friend; we want to talk to our friend about God. a. When you approach your friend, begin by simply inviting them to your small group. b. If you begin to struggle with fear or just feel the timing is wrong, compliment your friend, have a comfortable conversation with them, and try again next week. It’s important in this phase not to condemn yourself. The enemy always works through fear and condemnation. Ask God for the strength to bring up spiritual conversations with your friend and try again. You only fail if you quit. God did not give you a spirit of fear, but a spirit of love and power.
  4. Once you’ve invited your friend, begin to share with your friends so they can join you in prayer for your lost friend.
  5. When your friend does come, make sure at the end of your meeting to have a time when people can choose to follow Jesus.
  6. Once they’ve accepted Christ, begin to share with them their next steps. Give them a book to help them grow in Christ, tell them about Growth Track and invite them to come to a weekend service.
  7. Congratulations! Your group has just fulfilled its divine purpose! You have thrown all of heaven into a party!

Identify Leadership Potential

We want every ministry in our church to succeed and grow for the glory of God. The best way for our church to grow and fulfill the Great Commission is through leadership development. John Maxwell puts it simply, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” Our small groups will either succeed or shrink based on the leaders we identify and develop. Now this is not to scare you or put an unrealistic amount of pressure on you. We believe the Holy Spirit will help you identify and train leaders right in your group.

• Intentionally invite an individual you could see becoming a Friends group leader.

• After several weeks of observing the potential leader, it's time to ask them to do something for the group. This could be setting up tables, bringing someone to the group, leading the game, or praying.

• If they “pass the test,” ask them to lead a few questions in a couple of weeks.

• If they again show interest, do it with the right heart, and exhibit a love for serving people, we have a potential leader. Next, we want to ask them if they would be willing to lead a group.

• If they agree we want to plug them into our training so they can be ready. In the final few weeks, we want them to lead the group so they get some good experience.

Prayer

Now, we’re going to cover how to pray for the sick, pray for the lost, lead someone in the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and how to generally guide the end prayer time.

HOW TO PRAY FOR THE SICK

In praying for the sick, it's important to remember a few things. First, we begin with the Word of God. I like to start with Psalm 103:1-3, Isaiah 53:4,5, Matthew 8:16,17 and 1 Peter 2:24. We want to minister to them that Jesus has already paid for this sickness or disease. The faith that brings them to salvation is the same faith they use to receive their healing. Once we have given them the Word of God and have affirmed that their sickness and disease is not greater than the work of Christ, we want to be led by the Holy Spirit in how to pray for the individual.

Sometimes God will direct us to say something or do something that will help them receive their healing. It is important not to embarrass the person or put them in a situation where they feel their ‘dirty laundry’ is being exposed to everyone. We always want to treat our fellow believers with love and dignity. It is also important not to “over promise.” While Jesus has paid for their healing, just like He has paid for their salvation, people still need to receive it. Sometimes it takes a while for people to receive everything God has for them. We don’t want to pressure them or make them feel bad about not receiving. We definitely don’t have all the answers to healing, but we know that Jesus has called us to pray for the sick. Healing is all over the Gospels and we can fully expect it to happen today in our Z Friends.

• “Praise the Lord, my soul! Praise his holy name, all that is within me. Praise the Lord, my soul, and never forget all the good he has done: He is the one who forgives all your sins, the one who heals all your diseases” (Psalm 103:1-3 GW).

• “He certainly has taken upon himself our suffering and carried our sorrows, but we thought that God had wounded him, beat him, and punished him. He was wounded for our rebellious acts. He was crushed for our sins. He was punished so that we could have peace, and we received healing from his wounds” (Isaiah 53:4, 5 GW).

• “In the evening the people brought him many who were possessed by demons. He forced the evil spirits out of people with a command and cured everyone who was sick. So what the prophet Isaiah had said came true: ‘He took away our weaknesses and removed our diseases’” (Matthew 8:16-17 GW).

• “Christ carried our sins in his body on the cross so that freed from our sins, we could live a life that has God’s approval. His wounds have healed you” (1 Peter 2:24 GW).

HOW TO LEAD SOMEONE TO FAITH IN CHRIST

In praying for the lost, we want to first establish a good basis on the Word of God. Acts 4:12, Romans 3:23, John 3:16, Romans 10:8-11 and Romans 1:16 are great scriptures to lay the foundation for faith in Jesus Christ. It is important for the non-believer to understand that they are separated from God. Many people feel God is trying to separate Himself from them but nothing could be further from the truth. The entire reason God gave us Jesus is so God could bring us back into a close relationship with Him. Jesus became our perfect sacrifice and died in our place. His blood was sufficient to remove our sins and restore us to God.

As we begin to share the Bible with people and encourage them to believe on Jesus, we want to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. We don’t want to push new people, but we do want to lead them to a decision. In the end, it is the Holy Spirit who convicts a person of their sin and of their need for Christ. Once they have decided to receive Jesus, lead them in a simple prayer. Emphasize that the prayer does not save them, but it is Jesus who saves them and that this is not the end, but the beginning of their relationship with Christ. In the prayer, it is important to lead them to confess their need of Christ, their renouncing of sin and their commitment to believe on and follow Jesus.

• “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12 NIV).

• “However, what else does it say? ‘This message is near you. It’s in your mouth and in your heart.’ This is the message of faith that we spread. If you declare that Jesus is Lord, and believe that God brought him back to life, you will be saved. By believing you receive God’s approval, and by declaring your faith you are saved. Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes in him will not be ashamed’” (Romans 10:8-11 NIV).

• “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile” (Romans 1:16 NIV).

• “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 NIV).

• “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV).

PRAYING FOR THE INFILLING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

Finally, in our training we’re going to cover how to pray with believers for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a separate work of grace apart from salvation. When someone comes to faith in Jesus Christ and is born again, the Holy Spirit moves into their spirit. The Holy Spirit puts to death the old nature of a person and creates a new spirit that is connected to the heart and nature of God. God literally writes His laws on their heart. In salvation, the Holy Spirit lives in us and in the baptism of the Holy Spirit, we live in Him. We are submerged or dunked in the Holy Spirit. We can expect to operate in the gifts of the Holy Spirit as He wills. We can expect power to be a witness and spiritual strength we haven’t known before. Some scriptures to share with the believer are:

• “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth" (Acts 1:8 NASB).

• “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance” (Acts 2:1-4 NASB).

• "As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11 NASB).

• “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance” (Acts 2:4 NASB).

• “It happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus, and found some disciples. He said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ And they said to him, ‘No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.’ And he said, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’ And they said, ‘Into John's baptism.’ Paul said, ‘John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.’ When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying” (Acts 19:1-6 NASB).

When you have encouraged them with the Word of God you should lay your hands on them and pray that Jesus would honor His Word and baptize them in the Holy Spirit. Once the person has been baptized in the Holy Spirit, they can now begin to speak in tongues. Some may not be able to exercise this gift right away, as they may be nervous or still trying to understand or receive. We can rest confidently that we did our part and we now trust Jesus to do what He said He would do in His Word. We also don’t want to put unwanted pressure on the believer. Many Christians fight over whether we have to speak in tongues or not to be baptized in the Spirit. We believe everyone can speak in tongues but speaking in tongues was never intended for purposes of argument. It was designed to be a powerful prayer language that God wants all of His children to use. It’s a gift to be rejoiced over, not an argument to divide believers. Remember, God is love and everything He does in our lives is based on love. He doesn’t force, argue and push His way on our lives. We simply believe, receive, and begin to operate in the gifts the Holy Spirit has to flow through us.

HOW TO CLOSE AND LEAD PRAYER TIME

As the group transitions from the time of encouragement to praying for each other, you will want to guide the conversation towards praise reports and prayer requests. It’s important to share what God is doing in the lives of the group so people’s faith is built and they have a chance to rejoice with each other. After the group has shared some praise reports, ask them for their prayer requests. You’ll want to keep this part moving. It can be a temptation for some to make their prayer request a ten-minute story. Again this is about the group so we want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to share.

Also this is not really the time for people to share other people’s business and prayer requests. Be conscience of the fact some Christians gossip through “prayer requests.” Guide your group towards sharing needs in a healthy way and pray with them and for them. This prayer time is also an open time to pray for salvation, the baptism of the Holy Spirit and healing.

CLOSING QUESTIONS

Do you have any questions on how to pray for anyone of these needs?

What are you most nervous about, if anything?

What are some strategies you can think of to grow your group?