By the Way Small Groups

Photo by Tara Beth Leach

When I wrote my discipleship book By the Way: Getting Serious About Following Jesus, I envisioned people reading and discussing it in small groups. I do hope people read the book, but more so, I hope people read this book together, hammering out the details in community. Jesus and the early church leaders designed disciple-making and disciple-practicing to be done in community.

We were created in the image of God who is a holy community of persons, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We bear God’s image when we intentionally follow Jesus in community with other Jesus-followers. Through our mutual sharing and learning, we can encourage one another and learn from one another.

While it would be best to read the book as a part of this small group discussion, it isn’t necessary. You can download a free study guide that has all the discussion questions for each chapter. These questions are also at the end of each chapter in the book. You don’t need to have read the book to participate in the discussion.

Download the free By the Way Study Guide with discussion questions for each chapter

Small Group Details

By the Way Small Groups work best in a 10 to 12-week format. There are 10 chapters in the book, so at a minimum it would be good for the group to meet at least 10 weeks. If your group meets for 12 weeks you could begin with an introductory session where there group gets to know one another and gets oriented with the book. Then take a week per chapter, concluding with a group meal on the last week.

Small group discussions can be powerfully transformative if the group can agree upon some basic ground rules.

To get the most out of this study guide and small group experience, adhere to the following five ground rules:

  1. Speak only from your own experiences and feelings.
  2. Create space for everyone to share by keeping your comments brief.
  3. Preserve confidentiality: what is said in the group stays in the group.
  4. Find ways to encourage one another and avoid trying to fix one another.
  5. Press into moments of silence with personal reflection.

At the beginning of each session, groups or leaders can:

  1. Select a leader to facilitate the discussion for the next session.
  2. If the people in the group do not know each other well, invite everyone to share their name and something interesting about themselves.
  3. Ask one person to offer an opening prayer.
  4. Ask one person to read the five ground rules.
  5. Ask one person to summarize the chapter.

The questions associated with each chapter appear both in the book itself and in this free study guide. They serve as a guide to get your group talking and reflecting on the material in each chapter.

Feel free to follow the conversation wherever it may lead. Some people may want to discuss parts of the book that are not represented in the questions. That’s okay.

Follow the relational flow of the conversation. The best small groups prioritize “people study” over Bible study.

Each chapter’s set of questions begin with icebreaker questions that get everyone talking. Then the bulk of the questions invite participants to reflect on key concepts in the book. The last question for each chapter invites people to consider how to put into practice what they are learning.

My Prayers

When I pray in the morning, I pray that God would take my book and multiple it that churches may be equipped to make disciples of the Jesus way.

I pray your By the Way Small Group experiences the grace of God and that together we all grow in the ways of Jesus. I pray that you meet some new people and that existing friendship grow, because we all need friends in our journey of following Jesus.

Download a free copy of the By the Way Study Guide with discussion questions for each chapter.