Conversatio Divina

Part 5 of 7

Understanding the Person

Including the Invisible Parts

Dallas Willard

01.  Before You Lead

For the best experience in leading your small group, it’s very important to preview session five of the video and, if possible, follow along in chapter five of the book, Living in the Presence of Christ. Familiarize yourself with the session outline and gather the necessary materials.

02.  Session Outline

  1. Introduction (4 minutes)
    1. Welcome and Opening Prayer (1 minute)
    2. Talk About It (3 minutes)
  2. Video Teaching (65 minutes or if you choose to divide this session into two parts, 37 minutes for the lecture and 28 minutes for the conversation between John and Dallas)
  3. Video Discussion (12 to 15 minutes)
  4. Closing (3 minutes)

03.  Introduction

Welcome participants to the study and briefly pray. Ask if anyone has a question from last week’s lesson and reflections. Also introduce the overall theme for this week: “Understanding the Person: Including the Invisible Parts.”

Ask the following question: “Of the five things you can do—think, feel, choose, behave and relate—which has been the most helpful to your own spiritual formation?”

04.  Video Teaching

Show the video segment for this session. Students may wish to have a notepad and pen or pencil for taking notes.

05.  Video Discussion

Following the video presentation, explore the topic further by allowing the group to consider the following questions.

  1. Dallas Willard states: “One of the things that defeats Christian growth is failure to attend to the parts of the person.” Then he references the admonition in Romans 12 to present your body as a living sacrifice. What are some ways that you have presented any of the aspects of your being (thoughts, feelings, behavior/body, will, social relationships) as a living sacrifice?
  2. What do you think Dallas meant by saying that experiences through practicing the spiritual disciplines are not the same for everyone?
  3. What does it mean to love God with you whole heart? [Hint: To love someone means to desire for that person what is good.] What are some things that would be good for God?
  4. In terms of habits, what are the spiritual disciplines designed to do?
  5. How does a person get to a place of easy, routine obedience?
    NOTE: If your group has decided to take two sessions to complete the first topic, ask the following questions after viewing the conversation between Dallas and John.
  1. What does Dallas suggest should be done to help a person who has become frustrated by how difficult it is to change? Can you give an example of what this looks like in your own life?
  2. What might happen if you become stuck on fixing or changing a behavior?
  3. What is the role of grace and the Trinity in the practice of a spiritual discipline?

06.  Closing

Before wrapping up, encourage the students to read the following passages before next week’s group meeting.

  • Mark 7:20–23 — Where human failure and misery come from.
  • Mark 12:29–31 — Understanding “The Great Commandment,” every dimension of the person under the governance of Jesus’ kind of love.
  • Psalm 19 — Resorting the Soul

Close with a time of prayer. Perhaps lead in a prayer of thanksgiving to celebrate the gifts brought by each component of our personhood.

07.  Additional Reading

Willard, Dallas, Renovation of the Heart. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2002.