Recent studies have revealed a growing epidemic in the realm of friendships: people are reporting having fewer friends or even no friends and feeling less satisfied with the friendships they do have. Is there anything we can do to reverse this trend? A great place to start would be to realize that Jesus called his followers his “friends” and lived a life defined by great friendships. As a Jewish man in first-century Palestine, we know he would have read the Bible book of Proverbs, a collection of time-tested wisdom that includes powerful insights on friendship. During this five-week series, we’ll see how the Proverbs Jesus loved can help us improve our ability to give and receive friendship and how we can be counted among Jesus’ friends.
Group Discussion Guide
To see the leader guide for this week CLICK HERE
Spend a few minutes making sure everyone is has a chance to get to know each other, especially if there are new people. Discuss with your group how winter break was for them. What were the highs and lows?
After your time of connecting, begin your meeting with prayer.
Key Verse for the Week
1 John 4:7 “Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.”
Read this verse to your group first, then encourage the practice of memorization throughout the week.
Friendships are easier when people are young because we don’t have much say in what happens in our lives. Our parents or guardians determine where we live and go to school so our options of who we are friends with are mostly limited to those around us. As we grow older, however, we begin the process of being able to choose our friendships a little more intentionally. For adults, this is both a blessing and a curse. We can choose who our friends are now, but now we have so many options and so little time because of work, family, hobbies, etc. For many, this can cause a sense of loneliness in their lives because they have either fewer friends or no friends at all. Jesus has something to say about this. As we start this series on Friendship Essentials, we will be looking at how to pursue, establish, and build healthy friendships together. Let’s start by looking at one way Jesus and his followers thought about and acted within friendships by looking at our big idea for the week.
Big Idea for this week
We can be intentional about our friendships.
- What have your friendships looked like throughout your life?
- Why do you have the friends you have now?
- What hesitancies or barriers do you have when thinking about being intentional in friendships?
Go around your group and have someone read each of the following verses, then discuss the connected questions.
- Mark 12:30-31
- Philippians 2:1-4
- What do you think loving your neighbor as yourself means?
- How could people living like this change the role loneliness has in people’s lives? How could this change the way that people see friendships?
- If you are comfortable, share what role loneliness has played in your life.
- John 15:9-14
- In these verses, Jesus describes some of the qualities he sees as being essential for great friendships. What role does intentionality play in the challenges he’s describing?
- What does it mean to love another person in friendship?
- Do you think about your spiritual life as a friendship to God? Why or why not?
- What do you think friendship with God looks like?
Based on the verses we just read, there are some things that we can do in response. Take a moment to discuss these questions as a group in order to determine what your personal action steps for the week can be:
- How could the verses we have read tonight help you improve the way you think about and/or act in your friendships?
- How can you use what we have learned to improve your current friendships this week? What about to start a new friendship?
- What parts of your friendships or your mindset towards friendships could use more intentionality? How can you be more intentional in these areas this week?
To close this week’s discussion, we want each person to experience what being intentional in your friendships can look like practically. Giving someone encouragement can be the first or next step in your journey towards intentional friendships – both inside and outside of your group. Being able to vocalize what we value about others is a great way to show intentionality.
If comfortable, have each person share a sentence or two about something encouraging that you notice about someone in your group. You can share something specific or general, about one person or multiple, depending on your level of comfort. This can be an extended thought or just a few words of encouragement for the group.
If you are a brand new group, go around and give examples of ways you would want someone to be intentional with you in your friendships. What are some steps you could take to do these things in your life toward others?
Prayer and Verses
Afterward, ask for prayer requests and conclude your time with prayer, then share the Key Verse for the Week and Daily Devotional Verses with the group.
Daily Bible Reading
Use the S.O.A.P. method to reflect on the verses below.
Scripture: Read the verses several times out loud.
Observation: As you read the scripture, what do you observe?
Application: What is God wanting you to believe, do or feel based on what you have read?
Pray: This is a chance to pray about what you have read and learned.
- Day 1: Proverbs 17:17
- Day 2: Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
- Day 3: Luke 6:31
- Day 4: Hebrews 10:24-25
- Day 5: Galatians 6:2
- Day 6: 1 Peter 4:8-9