The five books of the series, Going Deeper: A Journey with Jesus, are self-contained units of study. However, when used sequentially, they form a year-long study about discipleship to Jesus Christ, that also parallels the flow of the Christian Church Year.
Book One: Yearning for God (September – November)
If new small groups are formed in the fall, following Labor Day, they would begin their study with book one, Yearning for God. This is a nine week study that begins with the human yearning of the creature to know the Creator, and it progresses through several life-changing encounters of people with Jesus Christ: Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman at the well, the man born blind, the woman caught in adultery, and Peter. This first volume concludes with the challenging call of Jesus to follow him.
Book Two: God Comes to Us (December – February)
Having encountered Jesus Christ in the first book, Yearning for God, we desire to learn more about this man and this God. The eight week study, God Comes to Us, makes use of the Christian statements of faith (the creeds) to introduce the fullness of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a God who wants to be in relationship with his people. Using this study guide during the months of December through February (Advent-Epiphany) can lead to a deeper understanding and experience of the Christmas event, the incarnation of God in human flesh, Jesus the Christ.
Book Three: Called to Follow (March – April)
Throughout Christian history, the season of Lent has offered a special time of preparation for those anticipating Baptism at the Easter Vigil or on Easter Sunday. Book Three, Called to Follow, uses the outline of the baptismal covenant from the Affirmation of Baptism* service to describe five significant life commitments for what it means to live as a disciple of Jesus:
living among God’s faithful people,
hearing the word of God and sharing in the Lord’s supper,
proclaiming the good news of God in Christ through word and deed,
serving all people, following the example of Jesus,
striving for justice and peace in all the earth.
Christians at all points on their faith journeys will find this nine week study to be an in-depth and challenging companion. We learn to live daily, “walking wet,” living out our baptism, born anew to become the hands and feet of Jesus Christ for the world.
Book Four: The Fruit of the Spirit (May – June)
The Seasons of Easter and Pentecost provide an excellent time to focus on baptismal living. The nine week study, Fruit of the Spirit, leads to a deeper understanding of the fruit of the Spirit, the qualities—the character of Jesus Christ—that the Spirit desires to produce in the church and in individual disciples: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
Book Five: The Body of Christ (July – August)
The study guide, The Body of Christ, acknowledges that there are three actors in the process of making disciples: the Holy Spirit, the individual, and the community of faith. The Holy Spirit, the primary actor, chooses to work through the Body of Christ in forming the followers of Jesus.
This seven week study focuses on the biblical images of church to present a picture of what it means to be the church today, living among God’s people, and sent out into the world. This book also provides guidance in developing a discipleship orientation in congregations.
*Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, Evangelical Lutheran Worship. (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2006), 234.