“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” (Eph. 5:14 ESV)
Whether you meet in person, over the phone, or via a video conference, it is very helpful to have the Discipleship Band meeting guide with you. You can order printed cards from discipleshipbands.com or access a mobile version under the “Meet” tab in our Discipleship Bands app. We have tried to make the process simple and repetitive. This does not mean that meetings become redundant, because just as our lives and experiences are different week to week, so are the conversations happening in our meetings. The structure stays the same, but the curriculum (which is our lives, remember?) is always in process.
I. The Opening
Start with a little conversation as people are arriving or getting on the phone. As the band settles in, one band member should draw a starting line in the sand by saying, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead,” as the rest respond, “and Christ will shine on you.” This is a simple and profound verse from Ephesians 5:14. In this one line, Paul is acknowledging something we all experience but seldom become aware of—that we can be functionally awake, but spiritually asleep. In fact, in our overstimulated and distracted culture, it is easier than ever to hit the snooze button on our awareness of three of the most important elements of life: the inner state of our souls, what is really going on with others, and our attention to what the Spirit of God is speaking to us. The goal of our meeting is to wake up to these realities.
After the “Awake, O sleeper” call and response, one bandmate should read the prayer adapted from Ephesians 3:16–19:
Heavenly Father, we pray that out of your glorious riches you would strengthen us with power through your Spirit in our inner being, so that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith. And we pray that we, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that we may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. We ask this in Jesus’ name, amen.
II. The Questions
After the prayer, the band moves into part two of the meeting—the questions. Each group member will spend 15–20 minutes answering each of the five questions with as much or as little detail as he or she feels comfortable. During this sharing, give that person the group’s undivided attention. This sounds like a long time, but it goes much faster than you think.
We will begin to unpack how to answer the specific questions next week, but I’ll say this as you head into your first official band meeting: We have found that in the early weeks of getting to know one another in this new context, it may feel more appropriate to stick with the first three questions as you share.
1. How is it with your soul?
2. What are your struggles and successes?
3. How might the Scriptures and Spirit be speaking in your life?
You’ll grow and build to the remaining two. After a person has shared, someone in the group should pray for that person for a few minutes. Keep the prayer simple and invite the Spirit to lead. Ask for God’s help, thank God for successes, and then ask for God to transform your bandmate in his or her places of struggle. If the person shared any specific prayer requests or ways the Spirit is guiding him or her, pray into that. Sometimes more than one person will feel led to offer prayers.
Then it’s the next person’s turn to answer the questions. They share, someone prays, and the pattern continues until everyone has shared and been prayed for.
III. The Closing
At the end, close your meeting with somebody praying the closing prayer:
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20–21)
After this you might do a quick check in to confirm that everyone is able to meet the following week, but that’s the core of the band meeting. It is a very simple and repetitive structure by design, and the simplicity is what makes it easy to get started and sustain.
Father, would you make me more alert today. Make me more aware of my interior life—my thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Make me more aware today of others around me—my friends, my family, my neighbors, the people I meet. Make me more aware today of your Holy Spirit speaking and working within me. In Jesus’ name, amen.
For Band Interaction
What comes more naturally to you, being aware of people around you, or being aware of what is going on in you?