What does the word 'repent' make you think of?
Do you have a story about repenting from your own journey with God (either when you first believed, or at some other point along the way)? Spend some time sharing a few stories with one another (either as a whole group, or in smaller groups of 3 or 4).
In today's passage, Philip is preaching in Samaria, in accordance with the commission of Jesus that the Good News about Jesus should be shared "in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8)
Read Acts 8:9-13
What do you notice about Simon and Philip? What contrasts are there between these two spiritual and influential men?
What do you imagine inspired Simon to follow Philip?
Read Acts 8:14-19
What do you imagine happened when these people 'received the Holy Spirit'? What do you think that looked like?
Why do you think Simon wanted to receive the 'ability' of the apostles? What do you think he misunderstood?
Do you think there are any similar mistakes we can make in our context about prayer, ministry, or the Holy Spirit?
Read Acts 8:20-25
What do you think of Peter's response to Simon's request? How would you have responded?
Do you think Peter's rebuke was justified? Why/why not?
Peter tells Simon to 'repent' - a word simply meaning 'to reconsider', 'to change heart' or 'to change your mind'.
What was so wrong with Simon's heart or his thinking (look especially at Peter's words in verse 23)?
If we examine Simon's story as a case study in sharing Jesus with people, we can draw out some interesting parallels.
Describe the timeline of Simon's journey with discovering Jesus in this short story. At what stage in the process did Peter tell him he needed to repent? Do you think that is significant? Why/why not?
Does our sharing of the Good News of Jesus require people to repent? Why/why not?
How would Peter's words be received by people you know, if you said verses 22-23 to them?
How could we talk about repentance in ways that are culturally appropriate and sensitive? Or should we avoid the topic altogether?
Spend some time in silent reflection, considering your own walk with God, and if there is anything He is putting on your heart that you need to reconsider, changing your heart or mind.
Then, spend some time praying for people you know who are far from God, that you would be led by the Spirit and given wisdom in how and when to speak to them. Pray that God would give you the right words to say, subtly or boldly, as God directs.