September 9–10, 2017 Setting the Stage

September 9–10, 2017 Setting the Stage

Welcome to the first week of our fall series Philippians: Choosing Joy Under Pressure. In this series, we look at Paul’s letter to the young growing Christians in Philippi. This week we explore Paul’s visit to Philippi as the gospel gains a foothold in the Roman colony.


Building healthy and life-giving relationships.


What has been new or challenging in your life since last time the group met? Spend 20–30 minutes checking in with each other.


As we kick off our fall series, spend some time catching up on how God has worked in your life over the summer.

Share part of your story.

This series is about choosing joy under pressure. Who in your life demonstrates an ability to choose joy under pressure and how have you seen it?


Taking next steps toward Christ together.

Look back at Acts 16:6-34. Have someone read through these verses. Identify the main characters, the setting, the circumstances and people’s actions.


The Business Woman.

Paul shares the good news of Jesus with a group of women gathered to pray. Have someone read aloud Acts 16:14. What does it say God does in this moment?

The task of sharing the gospel can sometimes feel daunting if we think it all falls to us. With Lydia, we see God at work. He was active in her belief. What is our role and what is God’s role in these situations? How does knowing our role and knowing God’s role help us as we interact with people in our lives who haven’t yet believed in Jesus?

Both Lydia and the jailer respond by believing, being baptized and serving. How are these three pivotal actions connected? Why do you think these three things are tied together?

What is the significance of being baptized after believing? Have someone share about when they were baptized.

The Slave Girl.

A slave girl with a spirit follows Paul around harassing him. Paul turns to her and commands the spirit to come out of her in the name of Jesus. In the gospels, Jesus demonstrated his power over the spirit world. How does Jesus’ power over the spirit world help us not live in fear, but instead have peace and victory?

The Roman Jailer.

Paul’s confrontation with the slave girl leads to a public beating and being thrown into jail. If you were given a clear message from God to go somewhere specific and then were beaten and thrown into a first-century Roman prison after you arrived, how would you feel and respond?

In their imprisonment, Paul and Silas were robbed of a fair trial, health, dignity and rest. Think back to a very difficult circumstance you had in your life. What did this difficult situation take from you?

Paul and Silas chose to focus on what Jesus had done for them as they prayed and sang hymns. They offered praise from the pit. What are some of the things Jesus has done for us that no one or no circumstance can take away from us? What changes when we choose to focus on these things in difficult times?

How can choosing joy in the midst of difficult circumstances make a difference for those around us?

Discuss the following statement: Joy is the focus on the generosity of God that expresses itself through gratitude and praise even in seasons of extreme pain and deep disappointment.

Discuss the question Pastor Jeff Manion asked this weekend: Have you ever experienced deep joy in a season of pain or disappointment?

As we start our fall series, discuss how your group can lean into the series together to encourage one another to engage in the Row, the Circle and the Chair.  How will you engage this series in all three areas?


Valuing people outside the group and outside the faith.

Discuss how you and your group can better engage the people in your life outside your small group.


Paul shared the gospel with Lydia and God opened her heart. Share with your group someone you want to share the gospel with and hope God will open their heart. Commit to pray for these people.


Service is one of the important ways small groups can look outside themselves and invest in others. As a group, discuss ways to serve together this fall. Have one group member “own” organizing and coordinating serving as a group this fall.

Download a printable PDF here.