For our workshops, we come prepared with a number of different exercises (at least five) per category. Here is one of each as a sample so that you can get an idea what the exercises will be like. Click on the + to see the exercise.
Apostolic Equipping Exercises
Equipping Exercise 2: Determining Mission
Jesus empowers us in John 20:21: “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” With that he gives us not only permission, but an exhortation and a purpose to go into all the world and make disciples. And of course — of utmost importance — he has equipped us with his Spirit! He is a Spirit of “power, love, and a sound mind,” as 2 Timothy 1:7 tells us. Now God has created you uniquely, with a unique personality, unique skill set, and has placed you in a job or school or in a group of people — a relational network the New Testament calls an oikos — in order to reach those people with his love. Thus, being sent on mission doesn’t necessarily mean going to the foreign mission field, it’s a challenge to reach out right where you are. Due to the Greco-Roman influence in the Western culture, we often tend to separate the spiritual and the secular: the spiritual activities of ministry and our “normal” 9-5 work life. Let’s shift our paradigm to Jesus’ Hebrew culture and merge those two circles into one so we begin doing ministry in the natural rhythms of everyday life, and view the places we commonly frequent as places of ministry. Remember the term apostle comes from the Greek word apostolos meaning “sent ones,” so if we desire to model our life after Jesus, that includes his apostolic lifestyle of living “sent,” living on mission. Where and to whom are you sent?
SUGGESTED TIME: 45 minutes
SUPPLIES: some paper and something to write with
GROUP SETUP: nothing specific
GROUP LEADER PREPARATION: none needed
- to begin to think apostolically and create an awareness of your mission
- to determine the initial areas of where you are sent, to whom you are sent, and why you are sent
- to act on that mission
- Read the above introduction to the exercise
- Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you and empower you in this exercise.
- Spend a few minutes in personal reflection on the following questions, which will help determine and stimulate your “sentness”:
- What am I passionate about?
- What makes my heart come alive when I think about it or do it?
- Where am I sent to?
- Where do I work or go to school?
- Where are the places I frequent that I could be more intentional about building relationships? (the place you get groceries, your coffee shop, your library, your daycare, your park, your fitness center)
- To whom am I sent? (could be a department at work, a segment of society, or people group beyond your city, for example)
- What would my first small step to live on mission look like?
- What’s a dream that’s deep in my heart that would be impossible without God?
- If time, money and resources were unlimited, what would I do to show people Christ’s love?
- Spend some time sharing your answers with another person or the whole group.
- Create a reminder that you are sent: this could be a simple post-it note for the bathroom mirror, an artistic 8 x 11 sheet of paper for the inside of your front door so you see it as you leave each morning, or an alarm in your phone, etc. A sample text to write and speak out daily would be: “I am a sent one, an ambassador of the Gospel. Jesus has commissioned me with his power and his authority to love (fill in people here) at (fill in place here) in word and in deed, so that they see Jesus in me and experience His love, which is the most powerful force in the world!” (Think of the potential if every Christian did this every day!)
- Make a commitment to Christ and to another person or the whole group, to live sent this week.
- Close the session together by commissioning one another through prayer. Lay a hand on the person next to you, for example, and pray a commissioning over them.
Follow up next time you meet and share stories. Rejoice in efforts of obedience, and encourage and exhort in forgetfulness or disobedience. Repeat this exercise often.
Prophetic Equipping Exercises
EQUIPPING EXERCISE 2: Forming a Prophetic Word for Another Person
Now that a basic understanding of the prophetic has been laid and the basis of the prophetic — receiving from God his heart and thoughts — has been exercised, the next step is to use this for someone else. Remember, all spiritual gifts are given by God for the benefit of others, to be exercised in love for the glory of Christ. In this prophetic equipping exercise, individuals will choose numbers at random and compose a written word of encouragement, strengthening, and/or comfort to be exchanged with someone else. The random draw helps remove biases and emphasizes trust in the Lord.
SUGGESTED TIME: 45 minutes
SUPPLIES: paper, pens, Bibles, scissors and two small baskets.
GROUP SETUP: a set up that allows face-to-face interaction
GROUP LEADER PREPARATION: On a sheet of paper, write numbers down 1, 2, 3, 4, etc., for the number of people present, leaving space in between each so that you can cut or tear around the numbers and place them in a basket (or your cupped hands). Mix them up.
- to learn how to form a prophetic word for someone else
- to strengthen, encourage, and comfort someone else
- to grow in confidence in hearing God’s voice
Group Warm-up Stage (about 5 minutes):
- Have people pull out a number from the basket at random. Do not show this number to anyone. This is a number that represents a person in the room who you will write for. Copy the number to the top of your personal sheet of paper. When all numbers have been drawn, place them back into the basket.
- Prepare your heart and mind to receive from the Lord. Relax by taking a few deep breaths. Invite the Holy Spirit to come and speak to you in a personal way. Wait in his presence.
- Part of preparing our heart and mind is repentance: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”3 Like cleaning out clogged pipes, this removes blockages and helps the flow of communication. Spend a minute or two confessing anything to the Lord.
Group Working Stage (about 20 minutes):
- Begin to ask the Lord some questions to guide you… Father, what do you want to say to this person (number 4, for ex)? What do you think about them? How do you want to strengthen them & build them up? How do you want to encourage them? How do you want to comfort them? Other questions can be asked as well, obviously, but these are solid general ones to start with.
- As you hear or see or sense answers, jot them down on your piece of paper. It may be so subtle that you doubt it’s even God’s voice, but just step out in faith and jot them down. It can be key words, phrases, or whole sentences in the form of a letter to them. It could also be a sketch or drawing with a description. When you are finished, fold the piece of paper so its confidential, write the number you drew on the outside so it can be easily identified, and place it in the second basket.
- When everyone is finished and all papers are in the basket, draw a number again from the first basket. This is your personal number.
- Have someone call out the written papers in the second basket and pass them out accordingly to the person who has the matching personal number.
- Take time to read it, think about it, and enjoy it!
Group Wrap-Up Stage (about 20 minutes):
- Evaluate it: “Test all things and hold fast to that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Is the content on your paper in line with Scripture? Does it strengthen, encourage, or comfort? Is the content in line with the Father’s character? What’s the spirit behind the prophecy — is it the Spirit of God, the spirit of man, or an evil spirit? (1 John 4:13). Does it glorify Jesus? Is it manipulative or controlling in any way? Does it fit to your life situation? (Keep in mind it could be more relevant next week, or month, etc)
- Ask about it: Ask any questions to the group if unsure about something, or if you’re doing this alone as part of your quiet time, email it to a trusted Christian friend. This helps with discernment.
Keep it: It is always encouraging to refer back to the Lord’s encouraging words when you are discouraged. Furthermore, it’s worthwhile to revisit a prophetic word to see how much progress has been made into this word. Lastly, should it become fulfilled, it’s time to give thanks and praise. Thank the Lord, thank the person who gave the word, which will encourage them that they were hearing the Lord well, and share the testimony with other believers which gives God glory and increases faith of others.
Evangelistic Equipping Exercises
EQUIPPING EXERCISE 2:
Active Listening and Spirit-led Questioning
In this equipping exercise you will practice active listening. The adage from John Cassis applies here “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” That’s why this exercises is the first of evangelistic equipping exercises. To listen is to care. To care is to show love. Doug Pollock, in his book GodSpace, focuses on this key aspect in evangelism. With a balance of Spirit-led listening and Spirit-led questioning, the conversation is automatically steered towards spiritual things, since all deep conversations must end with God, he asserts. When you notice the time is right, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” (Colossians 4:6). Common moments to recognize when to share the Gospel are when the person has talked for a while then asks what you think, where you stand, or what you believe. It is in those moments where you will be able to share a similar experience or share something you have read that morning in the Word that fits perfectly. Using that as a bridge, you can tailor the Gospel to what they have shared. Not watering it down, but like Paul, relating to them in such a way that you “become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22).
SUGGESTED TIME: 30 minutes
GROUP SETUP: triads
GROUP LEADER PREPARATION: none
OBJECTIVE: to hone active listening skills so as to show love, be patient, and wait for the open door to share the Gospel
- Form groups of three: One Person is the active listener, one person is the speaker, and one person is the observer. If there are only two people available then disregard the observer.
- The active listener begins with a question, and proceeds to listen actively by affirming with non-verbal body language and from time-to-time reflecting back what the speaker has said with short summarizing phrases.
- List of sample questions:
- Where are you from?
- What do you do for a living? Why did you choose that profession?
- What is something that you are really passionate about?
- What are the three most important things to you in life? And why?
- What do you believe about God?
- Who is Jesus for you?
- What concerns you most when you think about your future?
- Do you ever find yourself doing the very things you don’t want to do, or not doing the things you really want to do? If so, what do you attribute this to? Have you ever found anything to set you free from this cycle?
- I’m convinced everyone’s on a journey in life. Where are you on your spiritual journey?
- If you could know for certain how to be at peace with God and spend eternity with him, would you want to know how?
- Once the conversation comes to an end, the observer gives constructive feedback to both persons. In addition, the speaker should give feedback on how well “listened to” they felt, e.g., “Was the person genuinely interested in me? Would I go away after this conversation feeling loved?”
Rotate so that all three people experience each role.
Shepherding Equipping Exercises
EQUIPPING EXERCISE 2: Creating a Life Timeline to Share
SUGGESTED TIME: 45 minutes
SUPPLIES: paper and pencils for each person (ideally colored pencils or markers)
GROUP SETUP: face-to-face conducive for sharing
GROUP LEADER PREPARATION: prayer, the supplies and group setup
- to zoom out and recognize distinct events in the grand overview of your life and how they have contributed to God’s Romans 8:28 plan for you
- to practice active listening
- to be intentional about going deeper towards community by sharing your highs and lows
Group Warm-Up (5 minutes):
- Who is one person in your life — could be recent or long ago — who has influenced you positively and how? (1-2 sentences).
Group Working Stage Part I (15 minutes):
Draw your life story as a timeline:
- Draw hash-marks on your timeline at five events which impacted you. These can be positive or negative experiences. Write key words or phrases or draw pictures above the positive experiences regarding why they impacted you, and maybe how God used it. Similarly, write key words or phrases or draw pictures below the negative experiences regarding why they impacted you, and maybe how God used it.
- Draw two hash marks on your timeline at two points in the future which you hope or expect to happen. Write key words around those hash marks.
Group Working Stage Part II (20 minutes):
- Share the key events to the group (depending on size of group, sharing length will vary; it’s important that each person gets relatively equal time to share).
- Listeners in the group can give feedback on what they have heard to promote active listening (for example, what touched them), yet should refrain from analyzing someone’s life or giving them unsolicited advice.
Group Cool Down (5 minutes):
- What are you taking away from this exercise in general?
More specifically, who was one person whose Life Timeline you could directly relate to? In what way could you relate? (Keep in mind statistically not everyone will have a personal connection with another person; therefore, don’t take it personal if no one chooses your timeline).
Teaching Equipping Exercises
EQUIPPING EXERCISE 4: Meditating on the Word of God
In today’s noisy world, life is rushed and hectic, and even our time in the Bible can become rushed, preventing us from truly ingesting and digesting Scripture. This exercise challenges us to slow down, meditate on God’s Word, and let it sink in. It follows the schematic of Lectio Divina (Latin for divine reading), yet another way to teach how to engage with Scripture. Lectio Divina has been likened to “feasting on the Word”: first, the taking of a bite (lectio); then chewing on it (meditatio); savoring its essence (oratio) and, finally, “digesting” it and making it a part of the body (contemplatio).3 It does not treat Scripture as texts to be studied, but as the Living Word.4 In contrast to eastern meditation practices of emptying your mind and soul (which are not condoned), this exercise focuses on filling your mind and soul with the very words of God. Simply stated, it follows a progression of reading the Word, thinking deeply about the significance of it, responding in prayer, and finally, resting in silence as it’s contemplated.
SUGGESTED TIME: 40 minutes
SUPPLIES: a Bible and something to write with
GROUP SETUP: nothing specific, just a quiet place without interruption
GROUP LEADER PREPARATION: copies of the exercise for each individual are helpful; finding a portion of Scripture that is not too long. Some suggested passages are Psalm 23, Psalm 131, John 10:10-18, or John 15:1-13.
- to promote communion with God
- to grow in the knowledge of His Word
- to recognize the benefits of slowing down and resting in God’s presence and peace
Group Warm-Up (5 minutes):
- After finding a quiet place to do this exercise, take time to pray to invite God’s presence, to calm your heart and mind, and to lead you in this time. If disruptive thoughts of things to do come to mind, jot them down on a notepad to the side. If needed, put on soft piano music on the background. Repeat Psalm 46:10 to yourself, “Be still, and know that I am God.”
Group Workout (30 minutes or more, do not rush):
- Read the Word: Taking the portion of Scripture chosen, have two different people read it aloud slowly and allow it to speak to your hearts. During this time, those not reading are allowing the words spoken to flow over them and asking God, “Which word or phrase do you want me to hear?” In his book The Practice of Godliness, Jerry Bridges explains, “The Holy Spirit leads us objectively through the general teaching of His word. There is where we learn His will for all Christians. But the Holy Spirit also leads us subjectively as He impresses certain Scriptures on our minds, applying them to specific situations in our lives. This is His way of showing us what He wants us to give attention to at a particular time, this is the way He leads us to establish a priority of applications.”5
- Reflect in meditation: Next we reflect on what has been read by thinking deeply with God: Which word or phrase was impressed upon my heart? Where does this touch my life? “…these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.”6 Take five minutes to do so. Each person is then invited to share with others their reflection.
- Respond in prayer: Read the portion of Scripture slowly aloud a third time. The question of focus here is: Holy Spirit how should I respond to this word or phrase? This is the life application part as we follow the Great Commission in teaching to obey everything he has commanded us. Take five minutes to speak to God and dialogue with him, pausing to listen after asking the question. He loves you and delights in hearing from you. For some, journaling these thoughts of prayer may help. Once that time has passed, feel free to share with others how you sense the Lord asking you to respond.
- Rest in contemplation: Whether it’s climbing into bed and falling asleep, or taking a break from studying, it always feels good to rest. Contemplate this experience as you rest in silence. When our soul needs rest, Jesus exhorts us, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”7 As you rest, fear may try to creep in as you worry about what it looks like to implement your response to the text, but keep your mind focused on Jesus and his perfect love, which drives out all fear.8
Group Cool Down (5 minutes):
- To close out the time together, ask how they feel about Lectio Divina as an approach to teaching Scripture.
- Ask if it’s ok as a group to hold each other accountable to the things they want to respond to.
- Consider if there were any common themes that people shared during this time. Sometimes the Spirit is trying to communicate something to the entire group or church.9