Dan Augsburger
"Spiritual 'Opportunity' Costs"
Small Group Study

Share your name and something about a favorite recreation. [remember participant names-write them down; designate person(s) to keep conversation going]

Connect-Above-the-Circle [by praying]

Unpack the Data
Introduction (please share briefly for the sake of time) Life is all about making choices. Having limited time, financial and other resources, we must often choose between alternatives. Sometimes we knowingly pay substantial costs to have or experience something we highly value. Tell the rest of the group about something you have spent money on beyond the ordinary that was worth paying the extra cost for (hobby, recreational pursuit, book, trip). When everything was said and done, was it worth it? Would you do it again?

Think it through

1. What are some of the personal relational, material and other needs people hope to have met in becoming Christians? (i.e. God blesses tithe paying)

2. Why do some of the people who respond to our witness later abandon their walk with Jesus?

3. To what degree might we be setting them up for frustration and later backsliding by suggesting Jesus will meet their personal needs?

4. What are some of the “costs” (relational, material, vocational, etc) incurred in following Jesus and how soon should we tell them about them? (i.e. lose control over what we choose to do in life. What others?)

Read Luke 18: 18-29
1. How spiritual was this young ruler?

2. Why did he long for an even closer relationship to Jesus?

3. What material, control and spiritual “costs” was he unwilling to pay of the following? (some suggestions are listed) Why? How would the loss of each cost him something?

ο    The cost of losing his possessions
ο    The cost of losing his stature in the community
ο    The cost of losing control over who controlled his possessions.
ο    The cost of losing control over what he did in life.
ο    The cost of losing favor with God as he understood things. (Jews believed prosperity and wealth were a sign of God’s favor)
ο    Other costs?

4. What costs did Peter say he had paid in following Jesus? (vs 28)

5. What incentive does Jesus offer for sacrificing everything? (vs 29) Is it a fair trade?

Read John 6: 53-60, 68
1. What additional “costs” were the listeners in this story going to have to pay if they followed Jesus?

Read Luke 9: 57-62
1. What other “costs” are mentioned in these verses?

Apply the Data
1. In what ways were sincere but misguided understandings of God’s kingdom causing people to follow Jesus for the wrong reasons in His day? Today?

2. Why are you a Christian? When you first turned your life over to Jesus, what needs were you hoping He would meet? To what degree have your expectations been met?

3. List some of the “costs” you have paid in coming to Jesus, and since in continuing to walk with Him? (i.e. you don’t hang out with friends at bars anymore.) Why have you been willing to pay the costs? Has it been worth it?

4. What are some of the “costs” you are struggling with now? Why? What personal and spiritual gains will you attain by paying them?

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rights retained by Dan Augsburger 4/21/01