1. Hold Fast what is Good. The title of this week’s lesson could be, “Families in the whirl of cultural change.” It’s certainly true, as the lesson author points out, that any church member who ventures forth on a mission assignment confronts cultural differences and needs to learn how to minister to those with such differences. Cultural differences abound. How do we keep from judging them as harmful or just plain wrong? How can we accept and minister to people from cultures that are different in a striking way from those arising from our background? How sure are we that “our” culture is the “right” one in every dimension?
2, The Power of Culture on Family. You probably won’t find the word, “culture,” in the version of the Bible that you are using, but would you agree that culture as we understand it is tied closely to the Biblical values and beliefs of the families in the church we attend? Explain, if you can, the impact of culture on the families related to Sarai and Abram and their lack of children born to them. What about the earrings hidden under a tree by Jacob? Or the ravenous love of Solomon for women from completely different cultures compared to his own? Are you aware of stark cultural differences in families or individuals you know that belong to your local church? What is their impact on the church as a whole?
3. Sustaining Families through Seasons of Change. What is the lesson referring to by the expression “seasons of change”? Spend some time discussing examples of uncertainty brought about by upheavals in the way we think about life. Be sure to link current examples with those we find in Scripture, such as culture-related issues faced by Abraham, Sarah, Lot, Hadassah, Daniel and his companions. How can you and I deal with uncertainty and change in our relationships with family members without losing our trust in God? Does it sometimes seem impossible to deal with circumstances that disrupt everything we know about family life and the way it should be?
4. Toward a First-Generation Faith. What is so special, so “right,” and so compelling as the beliefs we embrace when we first find the setting that enables us to believe our religious faith will prosper? Do members raised in the church have a better or stronger commitment toward the church’s beliefs and practices than those who join at a later time? Is it the church’s responsibility to be sure that every family and every member has a first-generation set of conviction for the beliefs of the church? Or should we try to require uniformity of belief and practice by all of our members? Why or why not?
5. Runners of the First Century. What urgent message did the first “runners” of the Christ-led church proclaim? Do you and I sense the same compelling sense of moving forward as did our forefathers (and mothers) in the faith? Wait a minute. It seems to many that the Lord has delayed His coming. We may feel disappointed, even discouraged as a result. Does God want us still to have a longing for the Second Coming even after what seems like such a long wait? How can we as individuals help to restore in our church and in our families a “first runner” mindset and action mode?