Smyth and Helwys Uniform Series Lesson Outline for May 3, 2015
Coworkers with the Truth 3 John 1-15
Focal Outline: 3 John 1-8 Support such people
3 John 9-10 You have trouble
3 John 11-15 Imitate what is good
Summary Statements: (To help you get a handle on the lesson truths.)
- John’s hope for sending this small letter was to restore healthy fellowship to a church. We need to hear him.
- Hospitality is a sacred calling. But, each fellowship has to determine proper boundaries for their ministry.
- Not everyone is good at building church community. Some are better at tearing good fellowship apart.
- John holds up another leader, Demetrius, as an example of health. He suggests we “…imitate what is good.”
Questions for Thought: (To help you think of some questions to challenge with a “So What?”)
- What are your church’s greatest vulnerabilities to ill health generally?
- How does your church practice hospitality? What boundaries or qualities should govern that responsibility?
- Why are churches slower to recognize/deal with ill-health than they are encouraging and healthy influences?
- What could come about if we allowed ourselves to be childlike—and imitate positive leaders in the Church?
Points to Ponder
[NOTE: These suggestions are to help your class be more interactive and discussion oriented. Using 3-5 different ideas will enhance your preferred teaching style and involve class participants. Build excitement and intimacy in your learners!]
We can be so shy about naming ill-health in the Church. Sometimes, I wonder why. I mean, no one likes to have trouble. Right? We want to say nice things about each other. Confrontation, discipline and punishment are awkward within a spiritual body. None of us should want to have to participate in these. We appreciate willingness. Except that sometimes, the willing might not be so helpful. When that happens, the Church has to decide what values are paramount. Our lesson writer observes, “Not everyone is good at building community. In fact, some people are experts at tearing down communities.” (p141)
Still, I have to wonder why our churches will sometimes let the danger linger for so long? You will no doubt have some thoughts on this. Me, too. For one thing, we have so committed to the “gospel” of positivity that when we need to name danger– or wrong– we almost can’t. We struggle with honesty if it means calling out dysfunction in our church. I also wonder if our members know enough about their own beliefs to recognize danger in time?
John will name what is unhealthy about Diotrephes’ leadership at his church. And, he will hold up a better role model within that same fellowship in the person of Demetrius. He will get specific about both. That honesty might have been exactly what the church needed at the moment! John also suggests a strategy that many adults have aged or matured themselves out of—imitation. “Imitate what is good,” he says!
Introductory Thoughts (5-15 minutes – These are for discussion to introduce this week’s Lesson Ideas.)
- Ministry opportunities abound. Truthfully, more than we can possibly affiliate with. How does your church decide which groups/causes to work with? And, which groups/causes are “real” and which ones to avoid?
- What are some ways in which your church can serve with hospitality as it helps mission causes to thrive? What are the responsible limits or boundaries that should be in place to regulate that hospitality?
- Today, our lesson writer will cite four characteristics from 3 John that make a particular leader an unhealthy person to follow. (p140-1) What do you believe are the hallmarks of a healthy leader in churches?
- Take a look at “Beginning the Lesson” on p122 of your Uniform Teaching Guide. How do we decide who should receive our hospitality? Our following?
Studying & Discussing the Passage (20-25 minutes – See Brian Harbour’s Commentary for added insights and explanations.)
- Share an overview of the Lesson from “Locating the Text” (Teaching Guide ) and then examine the Focal Passage using a variety of teaching methods…
3 John 1-8 Support such people
Why might John self-address as “the elder” here in v1? In v3-4, what are some positives he has heard about the church? V5-8 affirms a specific habit or ministry they have. What does John uphold as positive here?
3 John 9-10 You have trouble
V9 shifts to a problem. In v9-10, what are some points you learn about the trouble John identifies? List what is wrong with Diotrephes’ leadership according to John here.
3 John 11-15 Imitate what is good
V11 makes a suggestion. What is that strategy? (imitation of good) In v12, what 2 testimonies does Demetrius have to attest of his goodness? (word-of-mouth, truth itself) In v13-14, what do we learn about John’s love for this congregation? Finally, what relational habits does John encourage in v15?
- On p140 (lrge. print) our lesson author says, “Not everyone is good at building community. In fact, some people are experts at tearing down communities.” What are some warning signs that a person’s influence within a church might not be healthy? What is at stake for a church that is hesitant to deal with them?
- How does 1Jn 2: 6 relate to this passage? How about Mt 28:20?
- On p141 our lesson author says “Diotrephes wouldn’t be pleasant company. When you combine the four characteristics John describes, you have the perfect recipe for creating conflict in a church.” Read back over the summary of four characteristics that John cites about Diotrephes. Does your church do well discerning danger?
- In the Uniform Commentary, Brian Harbour leads with an application of the word “hospitality” from Henri Nouwen (p91) Later on p91-92, who might Gaius be? On p92, why the urgency to send the missionaries on their way? See p93 for a word on why John might have issues with Diotrephes. On p94, who is Demetrius and why might John favor him so?
Applying the Lesson (10-20 minutes – Choose one or two questions to encourage action plans for the coming week!)
Discuss any of the following questions…
- How might God use you as a part of discerning valid leadership and direction?
- Ask God to help you to be willing, and wise, as you participate actively in your church’s ministry.
- How do we remain hospitable, compassionate and unified while we figure out what strangers to embrace—and who to send on their way? Pray that you may be of help in the God-given wisdom processes!
- See “Applying the Lesson” on p127 of the Uniform Teaching Guide. How can we be more discerning so that our use of church resources—and energy—is most responsibly guided?