Small Group Curriculum

The Great Commission

08.18.18 | Foundations

PREPARATION

STUDY | Spend the week studying Matthew 28:18–20. Consult the commentary provided and any additional study tools to enhance your preparation.

DETERMINE | Which discussion points and study questions will work best for your group.

PRAY | Pray for our pastors and this week’s message, the upcoming group time, your group members, and their openness to God’s Word.

LANDING POINT | My mission in life is to make disciples while always looking to Jesus.

Remember the 4 Rules for Small Group Discussion

  1. Confidentiality. What’s said in the group stays in the group.
  2. No cross-talk. Be considerate of others as they share. Refrain from side conversations and texting during group time.
  3. No fixing. We are not in the group to fix each other. Jesus does that part.
  4. Sharing. Be sensitive to the amount of time you share. Don’t talk too much or too little. Every person brings something valuable to the group. 

INTRODUCTION

As your group time begins, use this section to introduce the topic of discussion.

BIG PICTURE PERSPECTIVE

Our lives are busy. Project deadlines. To-do lists. Piano recitals. Exams. Cleaning the gutters. Organizing your best friend’s baby shower. When life speeds up, it’s easy to lose perspective on the important things. Little things become big things and big things become little things. We get caught up in the busyness. We get distracted. We lose sight of the “big picture.”

What if you could pull back and see your life from a different perspective? What if you could see the “big picture” of what truly matters?

Think of how things look outside the window of a plane as it lands. What do you see? Everything is so, well, small. You see those little people getting into their little cars to go to their little jobs and return to their little houses. A shift in perspective helps us see things differently.

Jesus came to give us the “big picture” perspective of God’s kingdom and what it means to live your life in and for the kingdom.

Q: Recall a time when a shift in perspective changed the way you saw a situation or person.

CALLED TO BE A DISCIPLE-MAKER

The Great Commission is the life mission of every Christian. It’s the big role you play in God’s kingdom story. Disciple-making isn’t just your pastor’s responsibility. Nor is it something only missionaries do in far off lands. It’s for every person who has chosen to follow Jesus. This week your group will discuss how to fulfill Christ’s Commission in your day-to-day life and experience life in God’s kingdom here-and-now. 

Q: What role does disciple-making play in your day-to-day life?


LEARN

Select 2-3 questions to discuss as a group.

A KING WITH NO RIVALS

Imagine being one of Jesus’s disciples. You have just seen Him crucified and put into a grave. After three days, rumors begin to spread that He has been resurrected. Now you see Him face-to-face and He’s more alive than ever before. Then He tells you:

"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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 to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." Matthew 28:18–20 

All authority. Not just some authority, but absolute, all-encompassing authority has been given to Jesus. He has defeated the enemies of sin, death and Satan. Now Jesus reigns as King over all creation, and nothing in the physical or spiritual world can successfully oppose Him or thwart His plans. This King has no true rivals.

Read: Matthew 28:18–20. How does understanding Jesus’s authority give you confidence in fulfilling the Great Commission?

Q: In what areas of life is it hard for you to see Jesus’s authority? Explain.

TWO COMMANDS

Then King Jesus speaks to you about an important mission He has for you. This isn’t just any mission. It’s the mission, and He wants you to devote your entire life to fulfilling it. For you to complete it, He gives you two commands:

  • MAKE DISCIPLES
  • KEEP LOOKING TO HIM (TO “BEHOLD” HIM)

He sends you out by saying “go.” Go fulfill your mission. As you are going about your life, make disciples. A disciple is someone who Learns from Christ, Lives in Christ and Leads others to Christ. What does discipleship look like? You baptize and teach others about Jesus. You help others identify with the life-changing story of the gospel (baptism) and show them how to live their lives according to the power, presence, and promises of God the way Jesus did (teaching).

Q: Define “disciple-making” in your own words.

Q: What are some practical ways you can be a disciple-maker?


LIVE

How can you live out these four principles? Let’s look at four practical ways.

TRUSTING GOD

If the President of the United States called you into his office and gave you a mission, you would be honored and, at the same time, probably a little scared. I mean, this is the president. What if you’re not up for the task? What if you fail? It doesn’t work that way with God. He equips the called to do His work. If you’re a child of God, King Jesus is for you and has given you everything you need to be obedient and faithful to Him. When you answer God's call, you can trust Him with the outcome.

Q: Where do you feel lacking in your ability to answer God’s call?

Q: Where specifically do you need to trust God in obedience to go and make disciples?

CALLED INTO COMMUNITY

Jesus doesn’t just send you out and say, “Good luck!” He promises to be with you every step of the way. His Spirit goes with you to guide you, protect you, and empower you. Jesus has also sent out other disciples who are on the same mission. You simply can’t live the full and abundant life God intended for you outside of community. Community is a gift. It’s where you grow, worship, celebrate, hurt, grieve, and go through life’s highs and lows together. When you answer God’s call, you are called into community. 

Q: What are the benefits of living in community? What’s difficult?

AMBASSADORS OF HOPE

Paul calls believers “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20). God does His work through the Church. He has chosen you to make His appeal to the world, to repent and believe in His Son, as the only solution for the problem of sin. You have been sent on a mission to deliver a message of hope, the gospel of the kingdom (Matthew 9:35; Matthew 24:14). When you answer God’s call, you become an ambassador of hope.

Q: Describe in your own words the “message of hope” we have in the gospel of the kingdom.

Q: What’s one thing you can do this week to be an ambassador of hope for someone?


LEAD

SIX THEMES

Scot McKnight says “how we understand the church determines how we see the Christian life.”1 The church exists to be God’s hands and feet in the world as it waits for Jesus to return and put a final end to sin, suffering and death in this world. What does it mean to be the church in the world? McKnight offers six themes that should mark the lives of believers in the church:

  • GRACE
  • LOVE
  • TABLE (OR UNITY)
  • HOLINESS
  • NEWNESS
  • FLOURISHING

 Q: Which of the above themes would you like to see more of in your community? Why? 

GATHERING AND SCATTERING

As the church, we gather and we scatter. We gather to worship and praise God for who He is and what He has done through Jesus. We scatter into our communities to invite others to experience life in God’s kingdom; to show them that, without a relationship with God, they will always be thirsty; and to point them to Jesus, the only One who can truly satisfy their hunger to find true identity, belonging, and purpose.

Q: What’s one thing your group can start doing to be better at scattering?


RESOURCES

Have your group practice sharing the gospel using the Three-Circle Gospel Drawing. Encourage your group to attend re:Disciple where they will be equipped to use simple drawings to bring the gospel of the kingdom to their everyday lives.


PRAY

Get on God’s agenda. Pray for God to give you fresh perspective and focus on what’s important to Him. Ask God to reveal people and places in your life where you can be a disciple-maker. Pray for a heart that looks to Jesus in every circumstance.


FOLLOW UP

Midway through this week, send a follow-up email to your group with some or all of the following:

  • Read 2 Corinthians 5:11–21 and reflect on how Paul motivates his readers to be ambassadors for Christ.
  • Ask the group to share any stories or lessons learned where they see God at work in their lives.

COMMENTARY

Jesus’s Other Commissions

Besides Matthew 28:18–20, see also Mark 16:15–16, Luke 24:45–49, John 20:21, and Acts 1:8

More than Saving Souls

“While discipling requires bringing people to saving faith in Christ, it involves much more, including all the nurture they need throughout the rest of their lives.”2 Discipleship is a process of going from unbelief to spiritual maturity. Discipleship is more than evangelism. It’s walking with someone in their life and helping them take one step closer to Jesus.

Your Mission Field

Your mission field may be your children, your neighbors, your coworkers, or your classmates. God even calls some to foreign missions. Disciple-making is a lifestyle of obedience to God’s call to make disciples wherever you are.

How is Jesus with Us?

“Matthew closes his gospel with Jesus’s promise to be spiritually present with His followers until the end of this age, that is, until His return, when He will once again be present bodily [...] John describes how Jesus had explained this provision in much more detail as the ministry of the Holy Spirit (John 13–17). Acts 2 will describe the decisive moment of the fulfillment of this promise at Pentecost.”3


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ENDNOTES:
1. Scot McKnight, A Fellowship of Differents: Showing the World God's Design for Life Together (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2015), 25.
2. D. A. Carson, “The Gospels and Acts,” in NIV Zondervan Study Bible: Built on the Truth of Scripture and Centered on the Gospel Message, ed. D. A. Carson (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2015), 1998.
3. Craig Blomberg, Matthew, vol. 22, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 432.