Compassion in the Church?
INTRO: Do you know why people leave the church? Is it because they are upset with God? Perhaps because they stop believing in Him? Take a sample in your group, go around and ask why do people leave church? Is it because of God? Or because of people? Perhaps, a good assignment would be to go and ask someone who used to be a part of the church and is no longer; why did he or she stop attending and participating?
After looking at several studies and research about these questions, there are some answers that are common and show up in each survey, study, and research on why people leave church: “I have been hurt,” “lack of love,” “mistreated,” “hypocrisy.” Feel free to do a search on “Why do people leave the church?” Why do youth and young adults leave the church?”
1. Which one of these characteristics are more important to you in a church. Rate them, from 1 (highest) to 5 (lowest), and discuss with your group why:
___ Good Preaching ___ Good Music ___ Great Programs
___ Love & Compassion ___ Good Pastor
2. How do you think Jesus would have rated the previous 5 characteristics? Would Jesus’ list look like yours?
3. How did Jesus treat the sinners that were rejected by the church, perhaps not even allowed in church, during His ministry on earth? Can you think of one Bible story about Jesus dealing with sinners? Share with your group.
“Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” (Matthew 9:10-12)
4. Was Jesus ever rough or harsh with anyone in the church? Yes or No? Read Matthew 23:13-15
There was one group of people who Jesus dealt very strongly and at times harshly. It was the religious leaders of the time, they made it very difficult for other sinners to come closer to God, they made church a place without compassion.
5. Did Jesus ever show compassion for the “sinners” who were accepted and revered by the church and the people? Check John 3: 1-16
Jesus did show Compassion and took time for Pharisees, people like Nicodemus. Jesus took time after work hours (at night) for this Pharisee and He actually shared the best known Bible verse with him. Read John 3:16
6. Who can you relate to more, the sinners who were rejected by the church or the sinners who were accepted by the church and revered by the people? Explain
7. How can you help your church be a place for those who are sick, those who are imperfect, for the sinners, for the outcasts? What will you do to make your church a House of Compassion?
Prayer: Jesus, help me to be a Compassionate Christian and give me the strength to make a difference in the church, so my church can be a House of Compassion. AMEN.
*This Small Group Lesson may take more than one session to complete, feel free to use it for two sessions, if your time runs out. It is better to close on time and continue on the next session than to go overtime and have some people not return to the following session because they feel you will not honor their time commitment.