WEEK 1

They [the church] devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer (Acts 2:42 NIV).

All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved (Acts 2:44-47 NIV).

TAKE AWAYS: 

  • No matter what the goal, working on it together gives you a greater chance of success.  
  • Every successful group is built on one essential component: unity.
  • "Everything in common" was more about how they looked out for each other.
  • Church is better when we're part of each other's everyday life, not just Sunday life. 
  • How do we get this kind of unity? 
    • Show up.
    • Sit with each other. 
    • Talk to each other at school, too. 
  • Bottom Line: Together we are better.

DEVOTIONALS

DAY 1

LIVE // The philosopher Aristotle once said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” For example, a football team consists of offensive players, defensive players, kickers, coaches and even a mascot. On their own, each of these is not as great as they are together. When each person brings their unique skills, talents, and passions to the table, we get a great football team. In the same way, something great happens when we come together as believers. What’s one thing you can do today to build the bond and “togetherness” between you and your small group?

DAY 2

LIVE // Jesus’ life and ministry were marked by unconditional love and acceptance. He did away with “us” and “them” mindsets and made us all “one in Christ.” In other words, no one was outside the love of God. As followers of Jesus, we should have the same mindset. Regardless of what others’ backgrounds or life experiences are, we should be people who are quick to offer the same love and acceptance Jesus did—even when it’s difficult. Is there someone in your life that you have a hard time loving? Someone you’ve put up a relational barrier with? What’s one thing you can do today to break the barrier and show that person the same love and acceptance that Jesus has shown you?

DAY 3

PRAY // When a group of people are united, does it mean they all think and feel the same things? Not at all! Just like a great sports team isn’t made up of identical people with the same skills, unity among believers doesn’t mean everyone’s identical. Unity just means that everyone is on the same page, working together and encouraging each other toward the same goal. Where one is weak, another is strong. When one is hurting, another heals. That’s unity. Unity doesn’t mean losing all that God made uniquely you. Unity is bringing all that’s unique about you to the table. Today, ask God to show you how you can use your unique abilities to bring encouragement and unity into your group of friends and your family today.

DAY 4

TALK // Can you imagine having such a close community around you that, when someone needed something, you were willing to share everything you owned to help them out? Maybe you’re thinking, “I don’t even like to share my chips at lunch. I can’t imagine sharing everything I own.” Totally fair. At the same time though, don’t YOU want to be part of community or group of friends who are willing to give up EVERYTHING to help YOU out? We all want friends like that. Today, take notice of the people around you—your friends, family, and teammates. If you see someone struggling with something, ask them: “Hey, do you need anything? What can I do to help you out?”

DAY 5

TALK // What made Peter and John recognizable to others as Jesus- followers was probably not how they talked, how they dressed, or what Bible verses they could quote from memory. No, what really set them apart was their courage and boldness. Where did that courage and boldness come from? Well, they had the power of Jesus’ Spirit for one. But that wasn’t all. They also had each other. Peter and John were able to rely on another’s courage and feed off one another’s bravery to say and do things they likely wouldn’t have been able to do alone. Is there something God wants you to say or do this week? Talk to a trusted friend, parent, or Small Group Leader about it. You might just walk away with the courage to follow through.

WEEK 2

“By what power, or in whose name, have you done this?” (Acts 4:7b NLT).

“Let me clearly state to all of you and to all the people of Israel that he was healed by the powerful name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, the man you crucified but whom God raised from the dead . . . There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:10, 12 NLT).

“Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19-20 NLT).

TAKE AWAYS: 

  • When it comes to following Jesus, we hesitate to let others in
  • We all have a natural tendency to keep our faith journey to ourselves
  • What changed for the disciples in Acts 4? They had each other. They were able to reply on one another's courage, bravery, and confidence to say and do things they likely wouldn't have been able to do alone. 
  • You'll always be braver together. This means we need to treat our faith like a team sport. 
  • We want you to find a group of people here in this room that will help you be braver and grow more in your faith. 
  • Bottom Line: Together we are braver. 

DEVOTIONALS

DAY 1

TALK // Everyone wants to be bold. No one wants to be considered a wimp. But being bold takes practice. Just think about how difficult it is to ask someone out on a date. The first time you ask someone out? Pee-your-pants terrifying. The second time you ask someone out? Still terrifying, but not as bad. The tenth time you ask? Not so bad anymore. The same is true when it comes to our faith. The more we talk about our faith, like Peter and John, the bolder and more confident we will become. But it takes practice! Who is one person you can talk to today about your faith? It may be terrifying at first, but give it a shot, and over time you’ll find yourself becoming more comfortable and confident.

DAY 2

LIVE // Mercy simply means that when we have every right to hurt someone, we choose to show compassion or forgiveness instead. And that’s exactly what God did for us. When we deserved judgment for our sins and mistakes, God decided to show us love and forgiveness instead. And as followers of Jesus, we not only get to receive God’s mercy every day, we also get to show mercy to others. And why would we do this? To give them a glimpse into who God is and what He’s like. After all, that’s what Jesus did! Is there someone in your life in need of your mercy today? How can you reach out to them in a merciful way?

DAY 3

PRAY // When Jesus was on Earth, many people thought He was going to try to overthrow the Roman Empire. But Jesus had no such plans. Why? Because Jesus knew that you don’t stand up to bullies by being a bully, and you don’t end a fight by fighting more. (Every tried to end a fight with your parents by yelling at them more? Yeah, it doesn’t work.) On the other hand, Jesus responded to every situation with calmness and peace. Jesus called these kinds of people peacemakers. We can’t force the people around us to be peaceful, but like Jesus, we can do everything we can to be peacemakers in tense situations. Today, pray this prayer: God, when I’m in hard or tense situations today, remind me to be a peacemaker—just like Jesus.

DAY 4

HEAR // God made each of us unique—with different skills, strengths, and even quirky personality traits. And when we learn to accept and love the things that make all of us unique, it leads to unity and togetherness. Do you feel like you don’t fit in with your current group of friends right now? Are you feeling the pressure to change who you are—the way you dress, act, or talk—to be accepted? If so, you may need to start hanging out with some new people. The truth is, good friends love and appreciate one another for who they are. You’re unique and that’s a good thing. Remember that!

DAY 5

LIVE // Do you know how the early Christians were identified as Jesus- followers? It wasn’t because they didn’t drink. It wasn’t because they didn’t cuss. And it wasn’t because they never missed church. No, the early Christians were identified as Jesus-followers because they loved one another. In other words, their faith was so much bigger than a list of do’s and don’ts. They rolled out the welcome mat and showed sincere love to everyone around them. That’s how people really knew they were Christians. Having a list of do’s and don’t can be a good thing. But it’s not the only thing. What’s one way you can show sincere love and kindness to one hard-to-love person today?

WEEK 3

But as the believers rapidly multiplied, there were rumblings of discontent. The Greek-speaking believers complained about the Hebrew-speaking believers, saying that their widows were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of food.

So the Twelve called a meeting of all the believers. They said, “We apostles should spend our time teaching the word of God, not running a food program. And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibility. Then we apostles can spend our time in prayer and teaching the word. 

Everyone liked this idea, and they chose the following: Stephen (a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit), Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas of Antioch (an earlier convert to the Jewish faith). These seven were presented to the apostles, who prayed for them as they laid their hands on them.

So God’s message continued to spread. The number of believers greatly increased in Jerusalem, and many of the Jewish priests were converted, too(Acts 6:1-7 NLT).

Not finding them there, they dragged out Jason and some of the other believers instead and took them before the city council. “Paul and Silas have caused trouble all over the world,” they shouted, “and now they are here disturbing our city, too” (Acts 17:6 NLT).

TAKE AWAYS: 

  • The more people you have, the more likely you are to make a bigger impact
  • We're here to make an impact on the people in our community, the people you go to school with, and the people you care about most
  • If you decided to show up here to make an impact (not just be impacted), what would you do
  • What is something as a small group you can do together that could make an impact? 
  • Bottom Line: Together we have a bigger impact. 

DEVOTIONALS

DAY 1

LIVE // There’s a famous quote that goes, “It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.” Did you know that you don’t need a church or a stage or a degree in theology to preach? Whether you’re on the field, in the classroom, on the bus, or around the kitchen table, you can preach the Gospel through the way you live and act. Now, this doesn’t mean you should never actually talk about God. It just means that a lot of times the best way to preach is with your actions—or as this verse says, SHOW others. Is there an area of your life where you’re usually not great at showing others the Gospel? Make it your goal this week to change that.

DAY 2

TALK // Sometimes when people hear the word “Christian,” they immediately think “boring.” But that definitely doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, sometimes being a Christian means raising a ruckus and causing trouble—in a good way. Things like standing up for people who need it, speaking up when it’s easier to keep quiet, being bold when it’d be easier to go with the crowd, and serving when it’s more comfortable to stay home. That is the way Paul and Silas lived, and this is the way we’re called to live, too. It’s not a boring way to live, it’s a bold way to live. How can you and your small group make a ruckus and have an impact in your community? Start a group text to talk about it.

DAY 3

HEAR // Humans are wired for relationships and connection. We can connect with people over lots of things: music, hobbies, sports, classes, and so on. And those are all great! But for Jesus-followers, there’s something even better that connects us: our relationship with God. When we connect with other Christians, it can spur us on to grow in our relationship with Jesus more than we might on our own. In other words, Jesus-followers are often better together. Do you have a community or small group of other believers in your life? Don’t be afraid to reach out to them when you need help or have questions about your faith. After all, you were wired for connection.

DAY 4

PRAY // Sometimes we make faith too complicated. Do this. Don’t do that. Memorize this. Attend that event. Sing this song. Listen to this message. Pray this prayer. Serve that community. And these are all GREAT things. But if we’re being honest, it can get a little overwhelming, can’t it? Thankfully, we can make things less complicated by focusing on one word: love. Today, ask God to help you simplify things by focusing on what it looks like to love Him and love others as you go about your day.

DAY 5

LIVE // The single most obvious fact about the early church was their love for one another and how they let love become the greatest guiding force in their day-to-day lives. They reeked of love and acceptance for anyone and everyone. While the rest of the world was obsessed with power and money, the early church was obsessed with sharing the love of Jesus. What is the single most obvious fact about your church and small group? What is the single most obvious fact about YOU? Today, do your best to make it the love of Jesus.