Tips for Planning a Small Group Discussion of The Chosen
Updated: 5 days ago
I've produced Bible study and discussion questions for each episode of The Chosen (Season 1 through Season 3). Recently, I also offered five arguments in favor of studying and discussing The Chosen with your church or faith community. But if you're planning on discussing the show with your small group, Bible study, or community group, you'll need to think through a few more issues:
Why are you discussing The Chosen?
Before you start watching and discussing The Chosen, it is important to clarify the purpose of your group. Why are you meeting? What do you hope to experience or accomplish during your time together? How does your group fit into the mission and vision of your church or ministry? Having a clear and shared purpose can help your group stay focused, motivated, and unified. It will also help you make decisions when you feel pulled in multiple directions.
Whatever the purpose you choose for your group, make sure it is aligned with the purpose of your church and God's own purposes. Some possible examples include:
To grow in your knowledge and love of Jesus by studying his life, as it is presented in both The Chosen and in Scripture
To develop authentic and supportive relationships as you bond over your experience of watching the show.
To reach out to unbelievers or unchurched people and help them discover what Jesus was really like
You may feel tempted to try to achieve all of these goals, but be careful. Although all of these purposes are biblical, they can clash with one another. It's hard to foster supportive relationships while at the same time creating a low-barrier environment where unchurched visitors feel welcome. If you focus on digging super deep in your study of Jesus, it may mean you won't have a lot of time to share life and be authentic with one another. At most, a group can sustain two purposes- and, if your group does have more than one purpose, you should be clear about which one is primary and which one is secondary. Trust me, when you begin making actual decisions, having clarity about your purpose will make things much simpler.
Who will you invite to your discussion of The Chosen?
Another important decision to make is who to invite to your group. This will largely be dictated by the purpose of the group. If your goal is to dig into the minutia of the show, you'll probably want to invite Christians who are already biblically literate. If your goal is outreach, you'll want to make sure that you don't fill the group with too many believers - and you'll want to make sure that the believers that you invite are ready to talk with the unchurched. Or maybe your goal is disciple. In that case, you may want a mix of young Christians and mature disciple-makers.
Demographics are also important to consider. If you focus on a particular life-stage, it will probably be easier to find a convenient time for everyone, since people from similar stages of life tend to have similar schedules. It may also make it easier for members of your group to connect with one another, since people from similar stages tend to share similar experiences and points of view. On the other hand, you may want to invite people from a variety of life-stages in order to foster intergenerational relationships and a more diverse range of perspectives.
There is no right or wrong answer to this question, but it is helpful to have some criteria in mind when inviting people. You want to invite people who will benefit from being part of your group and who will also contribute positively to the group dynamic. You also want to invite people who are open to watching The Chosen and who are on board with the purpose of your group.
How long will each discussion last?
Another practical decision to make is how long each gathering will last. This may depend on various factors: the amount of time you and the group members can dedicate, the attention span of participants, your energy level, etc. Most groups will run at least one hour, but few will run longer than two and half hours. However this is not a fixed rule and you may need to adjust according to your group’s needs and preferences.
A few ways to approach scheduling:
Ask for feedback from the group members. Find out what works best for them in terms of time commitment, frequency, and duration of meetings. Try to accommodate their preferences as much as possible, while also being realistic and respectful of other obligations they may have.
Set a clear start and end time for each meeting. Communicate this to the group members beforehand, and stick to it as much as possible. This will help everyone plan their schedules accordingly, and avoid unnecessary delays or interruptions. If you need more time than expected, ask for permission from the group members before extending the meeting, or schedule another meeting later.
Use an agenda or outline for each meeting. This will help you organize your discussion topics, questions, and activities, and keep track of time spent on each item. You can also use this as a tool to evaluate how effective each meeting was, and what areas need improvement. You can create your own agenda, or expand on one of the resources listed below (What resources/questions will you use?).
When will you watch the episode?
Depending on the purpose of your group and the length of your gatherings, you may decide to watch the episodes together as a group or individually before meeting. Watching together can create a shared experience and foster a sense of community. It also ensures that everyone has actually seen the episode before you begin your discussion (let's face it - it's hard to get people to do "homework" for church on a consistent basis). On the other hand, watching individually can allow for more flexibility and for shorter meetings. Some people may also prefer having more space to reflect before discussing the show with others. If you do watch individually, make sure that everyone has access to the show and knows which episode(s) to watch before each meeting.
What resources/questions will you use?
Whenever you watch an episode, you will want to have a discussion guide or a set of questions to spark conversation and dig deeper into the themes and messages of the show. You may want to prepare your own questions, but there are also many existing resources available online.
Like I noted earlier, I have produced discussion guides for each episode of The Chosen so far. You can find those discussion guides in blog format here. An updated PDF version of my discussions for Season 1 is available for free to anyone who signs up for my email newsletter, while the PDF for Seasons 2-3 can only be accessed by becoming a member of my Buy Me a Coffee page. I've also created a devotional journal, Come and See, which you could also use as the basis for your discussion.
In addition to the resources that I've produced, you may want to consider:
The Chosen Season 1 Resources
What Does It Mean to Be Chosen? - The official Season 1 Bible study created by the creator of The Chosen, Dallas Jenkins, along with his wife, Amanda Jenkins, and Douglas Huffman.
Water for the Thirsty - An unofficial Season 1 Bible study created by Bill Syrios and The Jesus Study team. It provides a lot more structure and is a more useful tool for cultivating discipleship and biblical knowledge.
The Chosen Season 2 Resources
Blessed are The Chosen - The official Season 2 Bible study created by the creator of The Chosen, Dallas Jenkins, along with his wife, Amanda Jenkins, and Douglas Huffman.
Hope for the Lost - An unofficial Season 1 Bible study created by Bill Syrios and The Jesus Study team. It provides a lot more structure and is a more useful tool for cultivating discipleship and biblical knowledge.
The Chosen Season 3 Resources
The Way of the Chosen - The official Season 3 Bible study created by the creator of The Chosen, Dallas Jenkins, along with his wife, Amanda Jenkins, and Douglas Huffman.
How will you foster relationships?
One of the benefits of watching The Chosen is that it can help us connect with Jesus and his followers on a personal and emotional level. The show depicts them as real people with real struggles, doubts, joys, and hopes. Therefore, when discussing an episode, encourage everyone to share not only their thoughts but also their feelings. Ask them how they felt when they watched certain scenes or characters. Invite them to express their questions, doubts, fears, joys, or gratitude. Listen attentively and respectfully to each other and avoid judging or criticizing anyone’s opinions or emotions.
Another benefit of watching The Chosen is that it can help us apply the lessons and teachings of Jesus to our own lives and situations. The show illustrates how Jesus transformed the lives of his followers and how he can transform ours as well. When discussing an episode, challenge everyone to think about how they can apply what they learned or experienced to their own lives and situations. Ask them how God is encouraging them or calling them to grow or repent. If the purpose of your group is discipleship, you may want to encourage members to set specific goals or action steps that they can follow up on later.
If you have the time, I'd also encourage you to eat with your group before or after watching an episode. As Jesus himself knew, there's something powerful about sitting around the table. Often, it's during moments that are "unprogrammed" that people really open up and share about what's going on in their lives. Even if you don't have time to have a meal every time you meet, I encourage you to find at least a couple times to do so - perhaps your first and final meeting. Make sure to figure out who will provide the food and check to see if any members of your group have dietary restrictions.
Will you invite God?
It's possible to encounter Jesus and even read Scripture without ever actually experiencing God's presence and power - just ask the Pharisees! That's why it's important to invite God into your meetings. If your group is primarily for believers, I suggest beginning each meeting with a short prayer. If your group is aimed at outreach, you may want to gather the Christians in your group to pray before the unchurched members show up. In either case, I suggest ending each discussion with prayer. Thank God for his love and grace that he has shown us through Jesus. Thank him for the opportunity to watch and discuss The Chosen as a group. Ask him to help you grow in your faith and obedience as you follow him. Pray for each other’s needs, challenges, hopes, and the requests that were shared during the discussion. Pray for the creators and actors of The Chosen that they may continue to produce faithful work that glorifies God and blesses people.
I hope this blog post helps you as you plan your discussion of The Chosen. Have you already led a discussion of The Chosen? Fell free to leave your questions, tips, ideas, warnings, and experiences in the comments below!
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An adaptation like The Chosen isn't meant to replace the Bible; it's meant to drive us deeper into the Bible and spiritual reflection. The creators of The Chosen have published interactive Bible Studies that are meant to explore some of the Scripture and biblical themes that inspired the show and help viewers apply them to everyday life.
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If you liked this post, you might want to check out some of my other posts on The Chosen and Bible adaptation. I have Bible studies/discussion guides for each episode of The Chosen Seasons 1-3, blogs exploring how The Chosen adapts key biblical figures, and articles exploring the controversial nature of adaptation. I hope you enjoy them!
The Chosen Season 4
The Chosen Season 4 Controversy? (The Transfiguration of Jesus & the Second Commandment)
Reflecting on The Chosen Season 3 & Anticipating Season 4: What Worked & What to Fix
The Chosen Season 3
The Chosen Season 3 Episode 1 & Episode 2: Reaction and Analysis
The Chosen Season 3 Episodes 7 & 8: Recap, Review, & Analysis