Take time to welcome any newcomers and catch up on the past week (over drinks or snacks if possible). Then discuss the following question:
Over this term, we’re exploring eight of Jesus’ claims, each starting with the words ‘I am.’ Not only will this help us understand Jesus better, but we’ll come to understand ourselves better too.
Ask for a volunteer to read John 10:1-21. Then pray a short prayer asking that, however much group members have previously come to know God, they’d know him better as a result of your time together.
This is the second of two sessions we’re spending in John 10. Last time, we focused on Jesus’ claim to be the gate; this session centres on Jesus’ claim to be the good shepherd.
|How they view the sheep
|What would likely happen to sheep under their care
|Thieves (verses 1, 8)
|Strangers (verse 5)
|Hired hands (verses 12-13)
Read Ezekiel 34:1-11, 16, which Jesus references and which was written nearly 600 years beforehand. (You might need to use the contents page to find it!)
It is possible that there will be people in your Impact Group (including yourself) who have been victims of coercive leaders, including Christian leaders.
Given that people show emotion in different ways, this probably isn’t a good session in which to put individuals on the spot.
If someone discloses an experience of abuse, do your best to respond as Jesus would – listening carefully and compassionately. But please don’t feel overburdened. As an Impact Group leader you have no formal safeguarding responsibility, and a student-led CU Impact Group cannot by itself provide a potentially-abused person with the support they need. Avoid offering pastoral advice you are not qualified to give or making commitments you cannot honour. Instead, focus on helping those in need find the help and care they require.
If someone believes that they are in immediate danger of abuse, they should be encouraged to get out of the situation straight away. If they think a crime may have been committed, they should seriously consider contacting the police.
The critical thing is for them to find a place of safety and support. If possible, they should seek help from mature Christians within their local church. If this is impossible for any reason, encourage them to look for appropriate help elsewhere. They might start by talking with a parent, your CU Staff Worker, the university welfare team, chaplaincy or counselling services, or a GP.
As a CU leader, don’t feel that you need to carry this situation alone. Ensure that you also get the support you need, from someone at your church or from your Staff Worker.
The background to Jesus’ claim is Ezekiel 34. Ezekiel pictures God’s people as a flock, shepherded by kings, rulers and religious leaders. Yet rather than caring for the sheep, these leaders have almost killed them. Harsh treatment and failure to teach God’s word have cut the flock off from any knowledge of God’s love. In Jesus’ time, clearly not much had changed.
In Ezekiel 34, God himself promises to come and shepherd his people (see especially verses 11-14, 16) through means of his chosen king (verses 23-24). Here in John 10, Jesus claims to be this figure.
Christians sometimes say that they have a personal relationship with Jesus.
Share prayer requests together. Pray especially that you’ll be able this week to hear Jesus address you as good shepherd. His promise is not only that he is good, but that his sheep will hear his voice (verses 4-5). Why not ask each other how this is going later in the week?
Ask that, led by him, you’d be able to impact your university for good.
If you’re able to sing in your group time, there are plenty of songs that will help you revel in Jesus’ leadership and care, including: The Goodness of God; Jesus, Strong and Kind and The Lord’s My Shepherd.
Jesus is the good shepherd – but he counts his sheep in ones. Across time, this has led Jesus’ people to use their influence to benefit not only popular people, but also those who can be easily missed.
Ask someone to close your time together in prayer.
Thank You – Thank everyone for coming, and ask someone to thank God for your time together in prayer.
Ask – Ask those who are new to reading the Bible if they’d like to explore Uncover, a set of sessions in Mark’s Gospel, allowing them to investigate one of the earliest accounts of Jesus’ life alongside one of you.
Church and CU – What does the CU have planned ahead? And what help would group members value in finding a local church?
Others – Who else could you invite to join your CU Impact Group next week? These friends don’t need to be followers of Jesus and may really appreciate being invited.
See You Soon – Tell the group where and when you’ll meet next week, and arrange who will bring snacks. (You might like to alternate healthy and less healthy weeks!). See if anyone would be up for sharing a meal or just hanging out in the meantime!
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