Discipleship, Christian basics

Growing deeper in Christ (1)

[spring 1999]

  1. Spiritual self-assessment (personal assessment, status of spritual life, barriers, goals for growth), Deut. 6:4-9
  2. Prayer and quiet times, Matthew 6:5-15, etc.
  3. Knowing and using the word, 2 Tim. 2:14-4:8
  4. Witness and evangelism, Matthew 28:16-20, 1 Peter 3:13-18
  5. Service and fellowship, Rom. 12 | Spiritual gifts inventory
  6. Service and godly character, Rom. 12
  7. Stewardship: Tithes, offerings, and practicing compassion, Acts 4:32-5:11, 2 Cor. 9:6-11
  8. The character of the body of Christ (and how well do we measure up), Rev. 2, 3
  9. talk: Legalism, libertinism, and freedom in Christ (Mike McQueen), Gal. 3, 5
  10. talk: Christ and/or Career (Mike McQueen, spring retreat)
  11. talk: Tolerance (Mike McQueen, spring retreat)

Growing deeper in Christ (2)

[summer 1999]

  1. The Holy Spirit, Acts 2, etc.
  2. God's holiness, Psalm 99, Micah 2
  3. Personal holiness, Col. 3–4:6
  4. Godly wisdom, 1 Kings 3, Proverbs
  5. Deepening our prayer lives, Rev. 8:1-5, etc.
  6. Making our lives count for God's kingdom, 1 Tim. 6, Deut. 6:4-9

Alpha series

[spring 2001]* (no linked materials)

  1. Who is Jesus?
  2. Why did Jesus die?
  3. How can I be sure of my Faith?
  4. Why and How Should I Read the Bible?
  5. Why and how do I pray?
  6. How does God guide us?
  7. How can I resist evil?
  8. Why and how should we tell others?
  9. What about the Church?
  10. How can I make the most of the rest of my life?

Rooted in Christ: Basic discipleship

[fall 2005]*

  1. Intro to Bible study series
  2. Lordship & discipleship
  3. Spiritual disciplines
  4. Bible reading & study
  5. Worship
  6. Church & kingdom
  7. Holy Spirit
  8. Sin
  9. Contentment

Spiritual gifts

[handouts from various study series]

  1. List of spiritual gifts
  2. Spiritual gifts survey

Old Testament

Pentateuch: The Gospel of Moses
(Gospel in the Old Testament)

[spring 2005]

Looks at covenant theology in the Old Testament, and how the OT covenant is the OT form of the gospel. While the theology of grace and justification that we're familiar with are not revealed, the OT actually teaches about what it means to have a personal relationship with God. This was communicated back then in the form of the covenant that was revealed throughout the first five books of the OT, or the Pentateuch. The first four studies focus on covenant theology and our relationship with God, and then we'll see how it works out practically in the life of Abraham. We'll see how God revealed himself and worked in his life, and we'll relate this to our understanding of the gospel, our own relationship with God, and how God has been working in our lives.

  1. Genesis 3: The fall
  2. Exodus 20: The Ten Commandments
  3. Exodus 34: The covenant
  4. Deuteronomy 6: The covenant relationship
  5. Genesis 12: Abraham's calling
  6. Genesis 15: Abraham's faith
  7. Genesis 16: Abraham's compromise
  8. Genesis 22: Abraham's testing
  9. Genesis 4: Cain & Abel
  10. Genesis 8-9: God's covenant with Noah
  11. Genesis 12, 20: Abraham's temptation
  12. Background on Old Testament & covenant
  13. Background on the Pentateuch


[summer 2004]

The Psalms are intimate expressions of worship, prayer, and crying out to God. They were composed during or as a result of real life situations in which people experienced God and wrote about their experiences. They were primarily written and collected as worship songs to be sung, for example, at the temple or synagogue. But they are very personal reflections on the writer's personal experiences with God, and thus the nature of the writer's relationship with God. So of course we'll look at elements of worship, praise, and prayer. But the main focus is looking to learn from these Psalms about our personal relationship with the Lord, and developing a deeper level of intimacy with God. Of course, there's no way we can do justice to such a profound and important topic in six short studies. So we'll hit the highlights here, and most of those I've chosen are ones that are very well known, or that have had special meaning for me in my spiritual growth.

  1. Intro to Biblical poetry
  2. Psalm 1: Rooted in God
  3. Psalm 119: Walking with God
  4. Psalm 42: Desiring God
  5. Psalm 10: God, where are you?
  6. Psalm 62/64: Trusting God
  7. Psalm 63: Relationship means worship

Old Testament Characters
(Spiritual growth)

[fall 2003]

We'll look at how God worked in people's lives in Old Testament stories, particularly at decisive moments that were turning events and learning experiences, which God used to further their spiritual growth. From these stories we can learn principles of spiritual growth and how God can work in our lives.

  1. Judges 6. Gideon: A wimp for God
  2. 1 Samuel 1-2. Hannah's prayer
  3. 2 Samuel 11-12. David: Oops!
  4. Psalm 51. David: Seeking forgiveness
  5. 1 Kings 19. Elijah: Bummed out – Spiritual lows and burnout
  6. Daniel 6. Cats!
  7. Hezekiah: Dangers of spiritual and personal pride + handout
  8. Ecclesiastes: Spiritual balance

Lives of the Old Testament prophets

[fall 1998]

How God works in people's lives

  1. Judges 6: Gideon, the "mighty" warrior
  2. Isaiah 6: Receiving God's call
  3. Jeremiah 1 (& Lam. 3): God calls the "Weeping Prophet"
  4. Haggai 1 (from coworkers retreat)
  5. Jonah 1-2: Running from God
  6. Jonah 3-4: Running against God
  7. Elijah & Elisha
  8. Daniel 6: In the den of lions
  9. Habakkuk: I stand in awe of you
  10. Malachi

  11. Introduction to the Old Testament
  12. Dealing with Biblical narrative
  13. Prophets and prophecy
  14. Biblical poetry
  15. Bibliography and further readings

Old Testament Kings

[fall 2006]*
  1. Josiah
  2. Hezekiah [+ map of Israel in Hezzie's time]


Mark's gospel

[spring 1998]

  1. Mark 1:1-39 Discipleship: How to begin serving God
  2. Mark 4:1-41. Parables of the Kingdom
  3. Mark 5. Miracles and Messiah
  4. Mark 6:30—7:23. Who is Jesus?
  5. Mark 8:14-9:13. Who then is this Messiah?
  6. Mark 10:1-45. What does God require?
  7. Mark 2, 3, 9. Spring retreat devotionals
  8. Mark 11:1-12:17. Spiritual authority
  9. Mark 14:1—16:8. The heart of the gospel

Matthew's gospel

[spring 2002]*

Studies by Elbert Chia; notes unavailable.

Sermon on the Mount

[fall 2001]*

Studies by Elbert Chia; notes unavailable.

  1. The humanity of Jesus - His baptism and temptation (Mt 3:13 - 4:11)
  2. A Christian's character and influence (Mt 5:1-16)
  3. A Christian's righteousness I (Mt 5:17-30)
  4. A Christian's righteousness II (Mt 5:31-48)
  5. A Christian's religion and prayer (Mt 6:1-18)
  6. A Christian's ambition (Mt 6:19-34)
  7. A Christian's relationships (Mt 7:1-20)
  8. A Christian's commitment (Mt 7:21-29)

The parables of Jesus

[fall 2004]

  1. Parable of the Good Samaritan[Lk. 10:25-37]
  2. Parable of the sower [Mt. 13:1-23, Mk. 4:1-20]
  3. Parable of the lost son (and his brother) [Lk. 15:1-32]
  4. Parable of the unmerciful servant [Mt. 18:15-35]
  5. Parable of the talents [Mt. 25:14-30]
  6. The marriage feast; the ten maidens [Mt. 22:1-14, Mt. 25:1-13]
  7. The rich man and Lazarus; the rich fool [Lk. 16:14-31; Lk. 12:13-21]
  8. The weeds (the wheat and the weeds); the mustard seed [Mt. 13:24-43]

  9. Introduction to parables of Jesus
  10. Heart motives:supplementary application material and questions on examining one's inner heart motives, for inclusion with various Bible studies
  11. Developing and asking good questions (from SGL orientation session)
  12. Small group ministry, care, and spiritual life (from SGL orientation session)

New Testament

[Acts, epistles, Rev.]

Acts (finding our vision)

[fall 1999]

  1. Acts 1:1-11. Intro / practice study (originally intended as a small group task & mini-study)
  2. Acts 2:1-41. Pentecost
  3. Acts 2:42-47, 4:32-37, 6:1-7. Fellowship, service, and social ministry
  4. Acts 4. Facing persecution and spiritual endurance
  5. Acts 5:1-1. Ananias and Saphira
  6. Acts 8. Providence and dispersion
  7. Acts 9. Saul's conversion
  8. Acts 10. Cornelius and Peter ("Go, Peter!")
  9. Acts 4, 12, 16:16-4. Jailbirds for Christ
  10. Acts 17. Paul in Athens

  11. Introduction to Acts – A brief overview
  12. Further historical background to Acts 8 & fol.

1 Corinthians: The body of Christ

[Spring 2003]

"We are family" – so goes a cheesy 70's pop song. That describes who we are – a spiritual family of brothers & sisters, a covenant community. St. Paul, though, had to write to the church at Corinth to fix problems in a dysfunctional church family. Factionalism crept in, in various forms, dividing the family. Some gave undue allegiance to spiritual leaders, exalting them in worldy ways, and thus dividing the church into theological cliques. People exercised their spiritual gifts for selfish purposes, not for the whole church. Other worldly practices crept in in the form of immorality that scandalized the church and hurt its witness. Gray areas became sources of strife: some immature believers judged others as worldly based on legalistic standards, and on the other extreme, some worldly-wise folks insisted on using or abusing their Christian freedom. And some were even spreading false teaching that confused the congregation and led to further division.

St. Paul responded with rebuke and proper theology. But not with a list of do's and don't's and maybe's. He proceeds by reminding them that they are supposed to be one in Christ, which is to be a guiding principle of their behavior and spirituality. Being a covenant community means Christians are to abide by an ethic and morality of community, of what's best for the church and its spiritual effectiveness as God's body. From lifestyle to usage of gifts, we should love and serve our fellow believers, and do what's good for them, not just for ourselves.

So this semester we'll look at how these issues and Paul's responses apply to problems in our fellowship, in areas like spiritual gifts, spiritual leadership, cliques, responsibilities of fellowship, handling conflicts, and dealing with spiritual gray areas.

  1. Love: The oxygen of the kingdom (1 Cor. 13, Gal. 5 - talk by Mike McQueen)
  2. 1 Cor. 1: Diversity and unity
  3. 1 Cor. 2: Maturity: Spiritual living
  4. 1 Cor. 3, 4: Service and fellowship in the Spirit
  5. 1 Cor. 5-6: Handling conflicts and discipline
  6. 1 Cor. 8: Maturity: Christian freedom & gray areas
  7. 1 Cor. 12: Spiritual gifts + gifts survey & list of gifts
  8. 2 Cor. 4 & 5: Relating to non-believers + survey

  9. Intro and background to Corinthians [for small group leaders, coworkers, etc.]
  10. Soteria: A short academic / philosophical explanation of the gospel for apologetic purposes (giving an intellectual defense of the faith; written for a 4-week theological English course I taught at Korea Univ. Soteria is Greek for salvation. For the final Bible study on relating to non-believers.
  11. Spring retreat devotional materials

Philippians (Growing together)

[spring 2000]

The part of your Christian life after salvation, the lifelong process in which you grow as a Christian, is called sanctification. Literally translated from the original Latin, this means "becoming holy" or "being made holy". An important part of sanctification is growing together with fellow believers in love, unity, maturity, and commitment. St. Paul's epistle to the Philippians ties all these together with Christian service and joy – although he wrote it while in prison! We'll take an in-depth look at Philippians to challenge ourselves to a deeper level of spiritual growth together.

  1. Acts 16:6-15, Phil. 1.1-11: Intro to Philippians
  2. Phil. 1.12-30: Mission report #1
  3. Phil. 2.1-18: Being like Christ
  4. Phil. 2.19-30: Mission report #2: Coworking
  5. Phil. 3.1-11: What do you trust in?
  6. Phil. 3.12–4.1: Endurance
  7. Phil. 4.1-9: What really matters
  8. Phil. 4.10-23: Mission report 3: Contentment

  9. Background notes #1 | Background notes #2 | Background notes #3 | Background notes #4 | Background notes #5 | Worksheet notes #1 | Worksheet notes #2 | Worksheet notes #3 | Worksheet notes #4 | Worksheet notes #5

1 & 2 Thessalonians

[summer 2001]*

  1. The Revolutionary Gospel
  2. The Power of Love
  3. Transformation
  4. The Day of the Lord
  5. Persecution/ Revelation of Christ
  6. Anxiety/Rebellion of Antichrist
  7. Responsibility & Purposefulness

  8. Background notes to Thessalonians
  9. Activities and general questions for Thessalonians

1 & 2 Timothy

[summer 2002]*

Data unavailable


[fall 1997]

  1. James 1:1-16. Introduction; Undergoing trials and finding wisdom
  2. James 1:16-27. Dont't be deceived — Be doers of the Word!
  3. James 2:1-13. Love your neighbor
  4. James 2:14-26. Faith and deeds
  5. James 3:1-12. Speaking in tongues??
  6. James 3:13-18. Godly wisdom
  7. James 4:1-10. Obedience and humility
  8. James 4:11-5:6. Avoiding worldliness
  9. James 5:7-20. Patience and prayer

"Postcard" epistles: 2 & 3 John, Philemon, Jude

[summer 2000] (plus Mt. 5)

  1. 2 John: Love, obedience, and discernment
  2. 3 John: Proper fellowship
  3. Philemon: Justice and reconciliation
  4. Jude: Keeping the faith
  5. Salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16): New student outreach

NT Characters (Spiritual growth)

[spring 2004]

Very simple: We'll look at how God worked in the lives of some New Testament characters, particularly at how God changed them and matured them over time, as well as decisive moments that were turning events and learning experiences, which God used to further their spiritual growth. From these stories we can learn principles of spiritual growth and how God can work in our lives.

Most or all of the passages will be from the gospels. Though there are a lot of good character stories in Acts, most of those passages are too long for our Bible study times.

  1. Mary, the Lord's servant [Luke 1]
  2. Elizabeth & Zechariah: Willing & unwilling servants [Luke 1]
  3. Ananias & Saphira: Dishonest servants [Acts 5]
  4. James & John: Misguided servants [Mt. 1035-45, Mt. 2020-28]
  5. Peter: Finding who Jesus is (and isn't) [Mt. 16]
  6. Mary & Martha: Finding what Jesus wants [Luke 10:38-42]
  7. Peter2: Peter chickens out [Luke 22, John 18]
  8. Peter 3: Restoration – from chicken to shepherd [John 21]

  9. Brief intro and background to NT character studies

Topical studies

(Note: Here, "topical" does not mean you rub it on your skin; nor should you confuse it with "tropical".)

Relationship with God

[fall 2002]

We often say that Christianity is a relationship, not just a religion. But what does this mean? It's easy to see that in the New Testament, but what about in the Old Testament? The truth is that the OT is full of the relational aspect of our faith, but it's hard for us to see. It's described in the language and theology of covenant, which is somewhat foreign to us today.

This semester we'll see what our relationship with God involves, from studying some well known OT passages that describe our personal relationship with God. We'll tackle some of the problems that hinder our spiritual relationship, and move into a deeper level of relationship with the Lord.

  1. Series background, rationale and introduction

  2. Psalm 103: Who is God?
  3. Deuteronomy 6: What does God want? (1) Formula for spiritual success
  4. 1 Chron. 17: What does God want? (2) Temple plans
  5. 1 Chron. 21: What does God not want?
  6. Job: Strange answers | skit: 'What, Job?'
  7. Psalm 139: Intimacy with God
  8. Proverbs: Fear of God vs. fear of man
  9. 1 Chron. 49-10: Prayer of Jabez

Service in the body of Christ

[summer 2003]

This summer's study is basically a continuation of the spring 2003 series on the body of Christ, but with a special focus on service within the body of Christ. We'll look at what Christian service means within the body of Christ – it's not just a personal individual thing, but it should stem naturally from your relationship with God, and it should involve the whole body of Christ working together. We'll look at these different aspects, from the essence of service stemming from the close sacrificial relationship with God that He requires of us (Rom. 12), practical how-to's and implications of spiritual service in the body (Rom. 12), specific examples of what corporate service should and should not look like (Rev. 2-3), and what our service means in the overall scheme of things in God's kingdom (Mt. 16).

Note: The studies on Revelation 2-3 did not go over so well with many groups; they are more advanced, and are only recommended for really mature or advanced Bible study groups.

  1. Rom. 12:1-8 Sacrificial service
  2. Rom. 12:9-21 Practical service
  3. Rev. 2:1-7 Ephesus: How's your love life
  4. Rev. 3:14-22 Laodicea: Hot and cold
  5. Rev. 3:7-13 Philadelphia: Serving faithfully
  6. Mt. 16:13-20 Upon this rock

  7. Small group leaders survey
  8. Handout: Background to Revelation & seven churches
  9. Map: Asia Minor & seven churches [JPG] | [GIF] | [PDF]
  10. Intro to apocalypse & Revelation (old handout)

Other resources

General Bible study resources and other materials:

  1. Small group leaders handbook [620KB]
  2. Daily prayer meetings: leader's guide [110KB]
  3. Daily prayer meetings: leader's guide [.rtf]
  4. Spiritual gifts inventory
  5. Bibliography & further readings for Bible study & ministry
  6. Classic devotional readings
  7. Worldviews studies (English cell group, spring 2004)
  8. Soteria: an apologetic and philosophical presentation of the evangelical Christian doctrine of the gospel
  9. List of spiritual gifts
  10. Spiritual gifts survey
  11. Biblical interpretation and application
  12. Introduction to the Old Testament and covenant theology [PDF file]
  13. Asking the right questions of a passage [PDF file] (guiding questions for developing a Bible study; adapted from a handout by Dr. Kenneth Cuffey; used for small group leader training.)


  1. All the world has to offer [16KB] (new student night, 1996)
    A parody of the empty things that people fill their lives with besides God.
  2. Bald idols, no waiting [39KB] (new student night, 1999)
    A parody of the meaninglessness and emptiness of life without God, in a "Theater of the Absurd" (Theatre d'Absurd) style.
  3. What, Job? [107KB] (fall 2003 Bible study series on OT characters)


  1. Ungame (an ice-breaker game with no object or winners – just sharing about each other based on interesting personal questions)
  2. Bible trivia (a game to be played in teams; used in 1999 as a large-group intersession activity)
  3. Memory game (an ice-breaker activity in which people use memory tricks to try to memorize the names of everyone in the group; includes explanation of mnemonic or memory techniques)
  4. Find out who... (a common ESL classroom activity; students go around asking each other questions from the list and try to find as many (new) people who can answer yes -- and find out more details besides just 'yes'. Afterwards, have people report and tell about whom they've found. This and similar activities from my teaching in Korea are included; feel free to adapt them for your group.)
  5. "Favorites" type self-intro questions When we have people introduce themselves in English group each Friday, we ask for their name, major & school status, and something interesting about themselves, most often silly questions in the form of "what is your favorite X")
  6. Misc. ice breaker (from English group long ago; feel free to adapt it)

Bible study materials

These materials are from my years at ICCF (Illini Chinese Christian Fellowship) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1997-2005. You are welcome to use them for any Christian Bible study group or personal study.

Use for any group is fine, so long as your group, fellowship, or church adheres to sound faith and practice, including belief and practical observance of the following:

[1] Faith and life as taught by Christ;
[2] Christian love and charity;
[3] denominational cooperation and Christian unity;
[4] and personal and spiritual integrity as believers.


* Times when I was on hiatus, (e.g., away from UIUC in 2001-02), retired (after fall 2005), or was only partially active or partially contributed to these materials (2001; fall 2005). Materials for some of those times may be sparse or unavailable.

summer 1997 Worship
fall 1997 James
spring 1998 Mark
summer 1998 Spiritual warfare
fall 1998 Lives of OT prophets
spring 1999 Deeper in Christ
summer 1999 Deeper in Christ 2
fall 1999 Acts
spring 2000 Philippians
summer 2000 Postcard epistles
fall 2000 OT characters
spring 2001 Alpha series
summer 2001* 1 & 2 Thessalonians
fall 2001* Sermon on the mount
spring 2002* Matthew
summer 2002* 1 & 2 Timothy
fall 2002 Relationship with God
spring 2003 1 Cor. - body of Christ
summer 2003 Service
fall 2003 OT Characters (Spiritual growth)
spring 2004 NT Characters (Spiritual growth)
summer 2004 Psalms
fall 2004 Parables of Jesus
spring 2005 Pentateuch: Gospel of Moses
summer 2005 Prayer
fall 2005* Rooted in Christ
spring 2006* James
summer 2006* Christian living
fall 2006* Old Testament Kings

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