What's Your Story? Leader Guide: Seeing Your Life Through God's Eyes

What's Your Story? Leader Guide: Seeing Your Life Through God's Eyes

by Sarah Heath

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Overview

Envision your life as an adventure co-created by God. This study explores Joseph's story. He accomplished great things in Egypt, but he didn't really understand his story's significance until he recognized what God was doing through him. Sarah Heath helps you explore your own life story in the same way. By doing so, you'll discover how to co-create with God the kind of life that will be a page-turner.

This Leader Guide is designed to be used alongside the book What's Your Story and the DVD to guide small group discussion. It contains detailed lesson plans for each session, as well as plans for a bonus session in which participants tell their stories to one another.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501837906
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Publication date: 04/18/2017
Series: What's Your Story? Series
Edition description: Leaders Gu
Pages: 64
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.20(d)

About the Author

Sarah Heath is the pastor of First United Methodist Church in Costa Mesa, California. With roots in Canada and Mississippi, she is a graduate of Duke Divinity School and an ordained elder in the California-Pacific Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church. An actor, artist, author, and speaker, Sarah uses her many gifts to share God’s love with others. She writes about her insights on the topics of finding our identity in Christ and using our unique gifts to serve God and others. Sarah has a passion for music, traveling, acting, creating art, watching and participating in sports, and enjoying all with which God has gifted us. Learn more about Sarah and her ministry at www.revsarahheath.com.

Read an Excerpt

What's Your Story? Leader Guide

Seeing Your Life Through God's Eyes


By Sarah Heath

Abingdon Press

Copyright © 2017 Abingdon Press
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-5018-3791-3



CHAPTER 1

Act One

A Great Story and the Call to Adventure

Scripture: Genesis 37:1-28


Learning Objectives and Main Ideas

• To recognize the importance and power of good stories

• To understand the "hero's journey" as a model for stories and recognize how it can apply to our lives and the story of Joseph

• To describe the character of Joseph in Genesis 37 and understand his Call to Adventure

• To begin seeing our lives as stories, potentially great stories


Prepare

Read act one of What's Your Story? by Sarah Heath, and make a note of the main points. In the spaces provided in the book, respond to the questions, quotations, and other prompts. Identify which ones you would like to use in the group discussion below.

Read over the lesson plan below to familiarize yourself with it, and decide in advance which questions you want to be sure to discuss. Remember, there are several opportunities for you to choose among multiple options. You may choose these in advance, or you may wait and decide when you come to these places based on how your discussion is going.

Decide also which of the three optional activities you wish to use, and gather the supplies you will need for them.

Be sure to have the following supplies on hand:

• Copies of the Bible (multiple translations are OK)

• Pens or pencils for each group member

• A DVD player and television or projector and screen

• The What's Your Story? DVD

• A markerboard or large sheet of paper and markers


Welcome and Opening Prayer (1 minute)

Welcome group members as they arrive, and then begin your session with a prayer. Use the one below if you wish, or pray on your own.

Dear God, we know that you are the author of the greatest story ever told, and we know that you are still writing it even today. We want to understand our own stories better and to cowrite them with you. Help us to see your hand at work in the story of Joseph and in our own lives. Amen.


Begin the Session (10 minutes)

Since this is your first meeting as a group, allow the group members to introduce themselves. Choose one of the questions below as an icebreaker. Begin with a volunteer and proceed clockwise until all members have spoken. Invite each member to share his or her name and to answer the question you have chosen:

• Describe one memory from your late teenage years.

• If you had to categorize your seventeen-year-old self as a character, what category would you choose? What role do you think you were playing? (Answers might include the hero or protagonist, the antihero that no one saw coming, the villain or antagonist, the sidekick, or the love interest.)


After everyone has introduced himself or herself and answered the icebreaker question, choose and ask one of the following questions:

• What are the most memorable stories that have formed you in some way? (These may be stories from your childhood that you still remember or ones you encountered later in life.) What is it about these stories that has had such a significant impact on you?

• What was the last book you couldn't put down? What made the book so compelling?

• What is your favorite true story, and how did you encounter it (podcast, radio, documentary, personal conversation, interview, or some other medium)? What drew you in and caused you to connect with this story?


Ask: How did the reflection in act one of What's Your Story? help you better understand the makeup of a good story?


View the Video (10 minutes)

Introduce the video for the group, and prepare to play the What's Your Story? DVD. Briefly explain to the group that in each video, author Sarah Heath will introduce the story of one person who illustrates the themes and key ideas of each act in What's Your Story? During act one, you'll hear from Mike McHargue, otherwise known as "Science Mike." He's the author of Finding God in the Waves, the host of the podcast Ask Science Mike, and co-host of The Liturgists Podcast. Mike is a Christian who lost his faith and then found it again through science. He's now a leading voice on matters of science and religion.

Play act one of the What's Your Story? DVD.

After viewing the video, invite the group to discuss the question Sarah posed at the end. Ask: What is a time in your life when you stepped outside of everything you knew and began an adventure?

Continue discussing the video by asking one of the following questions:

• How did Mike's story illustrate the need to leave the life we know in order to begin a hero's journey? What aspects of his story stood out to you as components of a good story?

• Do you think seventeen-year-old Mike would recognize the Mike of today? What does this say about the nature of our stories?

• How did Mike understand his life as a part of a bigger story? What role(s) in God's story do you think he is playing?


Engage the Lesson (30 minutes)

Invite the group to recall what God's story is about according to act one of What's Your Story?

Ask: How does this idea of God writing a story shape your understanding of Scripture? How does it shape your understanding of your own relationship with God?

Choose and ask one of the following questions for the group to discuss:

• Why do you think Jesus told parables? Why did he use stories as a key method of teaching and communicating?

• When you read a story in Scripture, how do you find yourself connecting with it?

• Recall the examples from What's Your Story? about non-Christians who are fascinated by the story of Christ. Think also of anybody you know who might be described in this same way. What is it about the Christian story that is so powerful for them? Do you experience the power of the Christian story in the same way?

• Have you ever thought about the Christian liturgical calendar as a way of storytelling? How does this ongoing encounter with the Christian story in worship shape our faith?


Choose one of the following activities to help the group engage and apply the main ideas of this act regarding great stories and good characters.


OPTIONAL ACTIVITY 1: SHARE YOUR JOURNAL RESPONSES (10 MINUTES)

Invite each person in your group to share his or her responses in the journaling sections of act one of What's Your Story? Choose one or two questions or prompts that you found most relevant to the lesson, and ask group members to share their responses to those. Or you may invite group members to share whatever they found most compelling, allowing them to show their work and explain their responses.

Encourage group members to ask questions and comment on one another's responses.

Ask: What new insights into today's lesson do you gain by seeing and hearing the responses of your fellow group members?

Ask: How do they help you in your understanding of your life as a great story?


OPTIONAL ACTIVITY 2: WORK IN PAIRS (10 MINUTES)

Divide the group into pairs (with one group of three if you have an odd number). Choose one of the questions below, then invite each pair to discuss it among themselves. One partner should respond first; then the second partner should respond. Allow about two minutes per partner, and let the group know when it's time to switch and have the other partner answer.

Invite each partner to answer one of the following questions:

• What is the relationship between your personal, individual story and God's story? Give one specific example to illustrate your point.

• To what extent would you say your individual story is a part of God's story? How do you see God acting within your story, whether outwardly or behind the scenes?

• Think about your life story as a part of God's story. What kind of character are you? What sort of journey or adventure might God be calling you to undertake?


After both partners have responded, bring the group back together. Invite all the pairs to report back about anything interesting they discovered in this process. Say: Based on these discussions, be mindful of how God might be seeking to make your story a part of something bigger!


OPTIONAL ACTIVITY 3: DISCOVER THE HERO'S JOURNEY (10 MINUTES)

Recall the features of the hero's journey, or monomyth, as discussed in act one of What's Your Story? (For further information and background on the hero's journey, visithttp://www.thewritersjourney.com/hero's_journey. htm.) Choose one of the stories listed below and outline it using this monomyth structure. If you wish, you may choose instead to outline a story that's not on this list. Ask for a volunteer to map the hero's journey structure visually on a markerboard or large sheet of paper to help guide your discussion.

• The Lord of the Rings

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Frozen

Star Wars

Cinderella

To Kill a Mockingbird

• The Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32)

• The Christian liturgical calendar


Ask: How difficult was it for us to identify the monomyth structure in these stories? What does that say about the nature of our favorite stories and the ways we connect with them?

Ask: How can understanding this structure of so many stories help us understand the story of our own lives?


THE JOSEPH STORY

Transition now to reading the Joseph story using the ideas of story, character, and calls to adventure that you have discussed so far. Choose and ask one of the following questions:

• Do you tend to avoid reading from the Old Testament? Why or why not?

• What do you remember about the story of Joseph? Where did you learn it, and what do you think you'll learn as we read it closely together over the next few weeks?


As a group, read Genesis 37:1-28. You may ask for one or two volunteers to read the whole passage, or you may choose to have several people read three or four verses at a time.

Choose and ask one of the following questions:

• What role does fear play among Joseph's brothers? Can you relate to this fear at all, and if so how?

• What is the difference between Jacob's response to Joseph's dreams and the response of Joseph's brothers? Why do you think we are afraid to look at our own lives with the mind-set Jacob had, a mind-set of "What if ...?"


Invite the group to consider the character of Joseph. Ask: How would you describe Joseph's character in this first chapter of the Joseph story? If you had to categorize him as a character type, what category would he fall into?

Ask: What do you see in the biblical text (such as descriptions of Joseph, his speech, his actions) that help you see what his character is like?

Ask: How would you categorize the character of Joseph's brothers? Of Jacob?

Ask: If we consider the Joseph story within the monomyth structure, what part(s) of the structure do you find occurring in this chapter (Genesis 37)? What does that say about where the story will go from here?


What's Your Story? (10 minutes)

Encourage group members to think about their own lives in terms of what we have seen in the Joseph story. Choose and ask one of the following questions:

• When have you had a sense that you were destined for something great? How did other people respond to this sense, or how did you respond to it?

• In your life, when have you felt stuck or forgotten, as Joseph may have felt in the well?

• Imagine yourself in a well right now. What shape does the well take in your life? What circumstances limit you? What seems impossible?

• Name one time in your life when you have felt and responded to a call to adventure. What in your life right now might be another call to adventure?


Ask: What would it mean for you to respond to this situation with a mind-set of "What if ...?"


Close the Session (1 minute)

Invite group members to share any final thoughts, then close with a prayer. Use the one below, or pray on your own:

Dear God, we know that you were with Joseph even at the bottom of the well. And we know that you are with us. Open our hearts and minds to the possibility that difficult circumstances might be a call to adventure. In the stories of our lives, shape us as characters who will be faithful to you. Amen.


Remind everyone to read act two of What's Your Story? and engage the journaling questions and prompts before your next meeting.

CHAPTER 2

Act Two

The Plot Thickens


Scripture: Genesis 39:1–40:23

Learning Objectives and Main Ideas

• To see plot twists as an integral part of stories and a natural part of life

• To recognize the importance of narrating plot twists, good and bad, within a larger story of one's life

• To discover how painful events or moments in life can become "sacred wounds" that lead to healing for ourselves and others

• To identify the plot twists in Joseph's life in Egypt and how they became an important part of his story


Prepare

Read act two of What's Your Story? by Sarah Heath and make a note of the main points. In the spaces provided in the book, respond to the questions, quotations, and other prompts. Identify which ones you would like to use in the group discussion below.

Read over the lesson plan below to familiarize yourself with it, and decide in advance which questions you want to be sure to discuss. Remember, there are several opportunities for you to choose among multiple options. You may choose these in advance, or you may wait and decide when you come to these places based on how your discussion is going.

Decide also which of the three optional activities you wish to use, and gather the supplies you will need for them.

Be sure to have the following supplies on hand:

• Copies of the Bible (multiple translations are OK)

• Pens or pencils for each group member

• A DVD player and television or projector and screen

• The What's Your Story? DVD

• A markerboard or large sheet of paper and markers


Note: You may find the questions in this session a little more intimate in nature compared with those from act one, but as the group spends more time together the questions will get more and more into their stories. Invite them to write down their thoughts in their journals.


Welcome and Opening Prayer (1 minute)

Welcome group members as they arrive, and then begin your session with a prayer. Use the one below if you wish, or pray on your own.

Dear God, thank you for bringing us together. Thank you for always being with us through our plot twists, and grant us the ability to see them and narrate them with courage today. Give us grace to confront our wounds, trusting that they are in your hands and that together with you we can shape them into a healing part of our story. Amen.


Begin the Session (10 minutes)

Begin the session with an icebreaker question, encouraging group members to introduce themselves by name as they respond if new persons are present or if you think it's necessary. Choose and ask one of the questions below. Begin with a volunteer, then proceed counterclockwise (opposite from last time) until everyone has responded.

• Where did you grow up? What do you like most about that place?

• Have you ever had a significant geographical move? What was the biggest thing that changed in your life as a result of the move?


After everyone has responded to the icebreaker question, recall for the group the author's description of the prayer of Jabez on page 40 of What's Your Story? Choose and ask one of the following questions:

• What message or messages do people typically hear about negative events or circumstances from the church? How does this compare with the author's understanding of plot twists in What's Your Story?

• Do you think our prayers have the power to change God's actions? If so, how should we pray when we are faced with negative circumstances?


View the Video (10 minutes)

Introduce the video for the group, and prepare to play the What's Your Story? DVD. In this video you'll hear from Jerry Colunga, who experienced a major plot twist when he developed a heart disease as a teenager.

Play act two of the What's Your Story? DVD.

After viewing the video, invite the group to discuss the question Sarah posed at the end. Ask: What plot twists have you had in the story of your life?

Continue discussing the video by asking one of the following questions:

• How did Jerry's story illustrate the role of plot twists in a good story or a good life? What did you learn from it about how to respond to plot twists, good or bad?

• What difficult plot twists did Jerry lift up in the video? What role have these played in his life, and how have they shaped his story now?

• What meaning did Jerry find within his plot twists? How does the story he tells help him understand and live with those experiences? What role does God play in the story?


Engage the Lesson (30 minutes)

Encourage everyone in the group to recall the idea of a "sacred wound" from act two of What's Your Story? Invite a volunteer to summarize the idea as presented in the book, and then see if any other members would like to add anything to the description.

Ask: How can this idea help us respond to suffering or other challenging experiences? What power or hope do you see in the opportunity to envision wounds and scars as keys to fulfilling the call on our lives?


(Continues...)

Excerpted from What's Your Story? Leader Guide by Sarah Heath. Copyright © 2017 Abingdon Press. Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

How to Lead This Study,
Act One: A Great Story and the Call to Adventure,
Act Two: The Plot Thickens,
Act Three: Embracing Desire and Identity,
Act Four: There Is Always Another Act,
Bonus Session: What's Your Story?,
Notes,

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