Sociologists studying the early church often attribute its growth to the sense of belonging it offered people in a world where belonging was limited to those with things such as property, high status, and birthright. Scripture is clear that we belong to God’s people even when we appear to be outsiders. After over 2000 years of existence as an institution, we can easily take for granted that we know what the church is. It is instructive to look at how the first members of the church understood the purpose of assembling as a group, how this has shaped our understanding of church, and how our understanding might need to expand. The opening of God’s people to both Jews and Greeks, men and women, masters and slaves required people previously unaccustomed to eating together to sit down at a common table. The practice of open table fellowship in the church is a sign of God’s shared abundance, ministry of reconciliation, and celebration.
Adult Bible Studies Fall 2021
Unit 1: Outside In
Sociologists studying the story of the early church often attribute the growth of the church to the sense of belonging that it offered people in a world where belonging was limited to those with things such as property, high status, and/or birthright. This unit of lessons looks at the various ways that the Bible makes clear how we belong to God’s people even when we appear to be outsiders. Several of the lessons point out where we as human beings insert distinctions that restrict membership within the community of Christ.
Scriptures: Jeremiah 29:1-23; Luke 7:36-50; Galatians 2:11-21; Philippians 3:2-21; Ephesians 2:19-21
Spiritual Practice: Hospitality
Unit 2: Into the Future
After over 2000 years of existence as an institution, we can easily take for granted that we know what the church is. This unit invites readers to look at it from the view of the community living into the future. The Greek word for church, ekklesia, is not a word that the first members of the church associated with a religious activity. The word signifies the assembly of the people of God. It is instructive to look at what their understanding of the purpose of assembling as a group signified, how it has shaped our understanding of church, and how reading these texts might renew and expand our understanding.
Scriptures: Acts 2:37-47;1 Corinthians 12:12-31; Matthew 16:13-19; Revelation 3:1-6, 14-20; Deuteronomy 29:10-29
Spiritual Practice: Community
Unit 3: The Fellowship of the Table
Once one enters the Church through baptism, the central identity marker for membership in the church is participation in Communion. The opening of God’s people to both Jews and Greeks, men and women, masters and slaves required people previously unaccustomed to eating together to sit down at a common table. When we look at the Gospel narratives, we see Jesus modeling open table fellowship. In this unit, we will look at the significance of the practice of open table fellowship in the church as a sign of God’s shared abundance, ministry of reconciliation, and celebration.
Scriptures: John 6:1-15; 1 Samuel 25:2-39; 1 Corinthians 11:17-34; Isaiah 25:6-10a; 55:1-3
Spiritual Practice: Open Table Fellowship
Adult Bible Study components include:
Published quarterly, each week's Student Book lesson lists background Scripture, features key verses, provides reliable and relevant biblical explanation and application, and more, in a readable font size that is accessible to everyone.
Teacher Book/Commentary Kit
Each quarterly Teacher/Commentary Kit includes a Teacher Book with additional biblical background and exposition and suggestions for guiding group discussion and a copy of the new quarterly Adult Bible Studies Concise Commentary, designed for readers who seek additional background on the biblical text for each session of Adult Bible Studies
Does your group enjoy watching videos to generate conversation around Bible studies? Video sessions directly correspond to the Adult Bible Studies quarter’s theme and content and features a segment for each Bible lesson.
Hundreds of thousands of people each week have transformative encounters with God through Adult Bible Studies—Bible-based, Christ-focused Sunday school lessons and midweek Bible studies endorsed by the Curriculum Resources Committee of the The United Methodist Church. In 2020, we reintroduced printed focal Bible passages in both the Student and Teacher books. Lessons follow the church seasons, including Advent and Lent, and include suggestions for developing spiritual practices to help nurture your faith.
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