THE BIG IDEA:
God has given each of us a story with him that can encourage others and point them to Jesus.
We don’t take time to tell our stories of how God is the true source of life. We keep our stories to ourselves so others don’t know where to find Jesus.
We share our story with others so that they, too, can find their life in Jesus. When we discover something amazing, we share it with others, and Jesus is no exception.
We point to show something important to a friend. Often we point to show where we’ve been or to give directions to where someone might want to go. Telling someone our story about how God has changed our lives is like pointing to show them something important, show them where we’ve been, or show them how God can change their lives too.
- What I want the group to know and understand: Our story is unique and valuable. God can use our story to draw people to himself. Others will identify with our story.
- What I want the group to experience: Confidence to share their story with others and joy that they have found the true source of life in Jesus.
- How I want the group to respond:By learning to see Christ as the source of life, and consequently by overflowing with a desire to tell others about him and how he knows us and loves us unconditionally. By thinking through, preparing and sharing our story with others.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE TOPIC:
At the center of every believer’s story is our encounter with Jesus. Jesus changes us as we meet him and place our faith in him, and then we can’t help but want to tell our stories to others: “Come meet Jesus, who changed my life!”
Liven your lesson up with these creative ideas. A well placed video, illustration, game or activity can really make your lesson memorable. If you have idas you would like to share with the community, click here.
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If you have the capability to in your group, show one of the “I’m not famous” videos and then ask these questions: What drew that person to know Jesus? What about their story stuck with you/impacted you?
To find the videos, go to youtube.com/cruimnotfamous/videos. You might want to watch Phoebe’s story which is much like the woman at the well’s story. You can find her video quickly by googling “cruimnotfamous phoebe”.
Have someone in the group prepared to share briefly how they met Jesus and the before and after change he made in his/her life. Then ask the group, “what about his/her story stuck with you/impacted you?”
Today we are going to look at a woman in the Bible who encounters Jesus, and see how her experience with him changes the whole town.
1. Read John 4:7-9. Why do you think the Samaritan woman was surprised by Jesus’ request for a drink? What kind of barriers did Jesus have to cross to pursue you?
Jesus initiated with this woman across gender and cultural lines. Most Jewish travelers went out of their way to go around Samaria, even though traveling through Samaria was the shorter route. There was a deep distrust and dislike between Jews and Samaritans. The Jews looked down on the Samaritans and didn’t see them as pure-bred Jews. They were lower class Jews who were left behind during the exile, and they intermarried with people of other faiths in the region. This woman went at the 6th hour, about noon, during the heat of the day to avoid others, most likely because she was a social outcast even among her own people. It was also unusual for a Jewish teacher to speak to women in public or to accept a drink from a Samaritan’s cup.
Allow the group to share personal answers to the second question.
2. Read verses 10-26. Who is Jesus and what is the gift of God he is offering to the woman? What do you think Jesus means by “living water”?
Jesus is God and he has come to offer her “living water,” or eternal life. Jesus is the living water. If she knew who Jesus was, she would ask him for eternal life and he would give it to her. It’s ironic that Jesus is asking her for physical water to sustain his physical life while he offers her spiritual water to bring her eternal life.
3. What is the woman’s response to his offer of water? Where is she currently trying to find life?
She misses what he is trying to say and wonders where and how he will get living water when he has nothing with which to get the water and the well is really deep. She wonders if by his statement he is greater than the person who gave them the well in the first place. She is still focused on the physical and wants unending physical water, so she never has to come get it ever again. She is finding life currently in relationships with men.
4. In what people, things, or activities are you trying to find life (meaning, fulfillment, purpose)?
Allow the group to discuss.
5. Instead of trying to understand every word that Jesus says, what do you notice about who he is and how he interacts with this woman?
Allow the group to discuss. He crosses barriers of culture, religion, and gender to talk to her. He speaks with gentleness, grace, and truth. He keeps pursuing her heart deeper and deeper, revealing her need for a Savior.
6. How do you see the woman responding to his interactions with her?
At first she is surprised that he would talk to her or ask her for water. This must cause her to wonder about him, but she doesn’t resist him. She wants more of the water he is offering, though she thinks it is physical water. She begins to see him as a prophet who has supernatural knowledge when he confronts her about the men in her life. Eventually she comes to believe that Jesus is the Messiah.
7. Read verses 28-30, 39-42. What is the testimony the woman shares with her town about her encounter with Christ? What happens as a result?
She says, “Come see the man who told me everything I did.” The townspeople follow her to meet him and then come to believe because of what she said and also because of their own interactions with Christ.
Many people’s lives were changed because the woman at the well simply shared how Jesus impacted her life. God can use our stories, or testimonies, in the same way. Today, we are going to work on putting together our own testimonies so we can share with others how Jesus has changed our lives.
8. Cardboard Testimony:
Write your story of what your life was like before and after you met Jesus. I Am Second (www.iamsecond.org) gives the following instruction on how to write a cardboard testimony:
If all you had was a small piece of cardboard, what one word would you use for your before and after experiences with Jesus? This is your story in a few words. Try several of them, and pick the ones you like best. Boldly print the best before and after words/phrases in permanent marker on each side of a piece of cardboard and share this at the next group meeting. Or take an Instagram photo of both sides of the cardboard and post it online.
Leader: Next week, instead of moving on to the next study, consider going through the Testimony Worksheet on the next page. Have your students put them together, then share them with the group.
Use this worksheet to write out your three-minute personal testimony
Write out your testimony: Now that you have the few words or phrases of before and after from your cardboard, you want to expand on it. Use the back of this sheet to work through these steps and then share your story with a friend.
Describe how your life was before you invited Christ to be your Savior and Lord. Describe how you thought about life and some areas where you had a need or struggle.
Describe how you became a Christian. Be very specific, even how you prayed to receive Christ, if you remember. It helps people understand how they can receive Christ.
Describe how your life is different now that you have received Christ. List three or four areas, referring back to your points in A.
Share your story with your friends. If you want, you can have someone video your story and post it to youtube and share it on social media!
- If you received Christ when you were really young and it is difficult to remember your life before Christ, identify one area where you have had a struggle and Jesus has made a difference, like family problems, a tragedy, personal issues, etc.
- When you write your answers to these questions, write as though you were talking to a friend.
- Avoid using religious words that most people would not understand, like “saved” and names of specific church denominations.
- Use “for example” type of illustrations when you share. It will help others relate.
- Make your story short, like a couple of minutes.
- If you think your story is boring, it’s not. Identify how Christ has helped you, and tell it with excitement.
- “If your story feels boring and formulaic and uncomfortable, maybe you’re starting at the wrong part. Forget the formula. Go to the place where it felt the most real. Where you understood that God was bigger than you ever knew. Go to the pain, go to the brokenness, go to wherever it all felt like too much, like more than you could handle and start there. Pick up the thread and find that moment when you realized that the reality of the Incarnation – Jesus here, with us – meant something true and relevant for you.” https://www.cru.org/communities/campus/blog/2013/re-imagining-the-three-minute-testimony.html
What ideas do you have that could improve this study? Are there creative things you do to bring this topic home to your students? Please share with the community clicking the FEEDBACK button or leaving a comment below.