Church at home

We will not be meeting in person at any of our services during March. Instead, we'd love you to join us online to watch Church at home here

Kingdom Come: Power

This is a suggestion for how to lead an online Connect Group, based on the talk that Andy Tilsley gave on 8th November. It lasts around 80 minutes, but feel free to extend sections, remove sections, add your own or just do your own thing entirely! Whatever works best for you and your group. 

The discussion questions and reflections will work without having listened to the talk, but if you are going to use them you may want to watch the talk before you meet.

Welcome & Prayer (5 mins)

Welcome everyone to the group and remind people of the following: 

  • As a general rule it’s helpful to keep your mic muted unless you’re talking to reduce background noise. 
  • During the discussion if you want to speak, raise a hand and I’ll throw the conversation to you. 
  • We’ll be using the chat function to post links, quotes, Bible verses and prayer requests. 

Start your time together by praying, thanking God for the opportunity to be together and asking the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your time together (you may want to ask someone else to pray). 

Gratitude & Challenges (15-25 mins)

Ask everyone to introduce themselves and share one thing from the last week they are grateful for, and one thing they are finding particularly challenging. 

Don’t forget to make it clear who is to share next, and to let people know they can pass if they want to. 

Overview & Group discussion (30 mins)

This term we are thinking and praying about what Jesus’ kingdom come ‘in London as in heaven’ might look like. Each week we’ll be looking at a different aspect of the nature of the King and his kingdom. This week Andy reminded us that Jesus’ kingdom is a kingdom of power, but a power that is often at work slowly and out of sight. 

Luke 13:6-9

Then [Jesus] told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ 

“‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”

Andy likened the power of Jesus at work in our lives to fertilizer – to manure. We often look for the quick fix and pray for the immediate, dramatic change, and whilst history is littered with stories of God answering those kinds of prayers for his people, the usual way God works is through the gradual, sometimes painfully slow growth he brings about in our hearts and lives together. 

Andy called us to repent, recognising we can’t fix our own lives and turning instead to the power of God; to submit ourselves to the slow work of God’s power in us, trusting in his timing; and as we wait to receive the love of God, choosing to regularly remind ourselves and rest in the simple truth that ‘Jesus loves me, this I know. For the bible tells me so.’

  1. How easy do you find it to ‘above all, trust the slow work of God’ (Pierre Teilhard De Chardin)? Where are the points in your life where the kingdom of Jesus seems to be a tree that isn’t bearing fruit and you are tempted to cut it down and move onto other things?
  2. Sometimes seeing the fruit of God in our own lives can be much harder than seeing it in one another’s. Take a few moments to think of where you have seen the grace of God at work in the life of another person in the group, and then take it in turns to share those reflections (this is a great way to live out Hebrews 10:24 – “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another”).

Meditation (5 mins)

You may want to encourage people to close their eyes, sit up straight in their chairs, place their palms face up on their knees/table and concentrate on their breathing – breathe in for 3 seconds, then out for 3 seconds (people may feel more comfortable doing this if their video feed is turned off). 

Read together these verses from Romans 8 and then spend a few moments thinking about the love of God for us, as revealed in the life and death of Jesus.

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

37 … in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:28-32, 37-39

Prayer (20 mins)

Begin your time of prayer thanking God for his love and for the different ways you have experienced it in your life. Then move into asking God for his help and for the needs of your family, friends, neighbours and co-workers. 

You may want to begin this time of prayer by saying together the daily Morning Confession of Sin from the Book of Common Prayer. This is a prayer that is used by millions of people every day as a prayer of repentance and confession.

Almighty and most merciful Father,
we have erred and strayed from your ways like lost sheep.
We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts.
We have offended against your holy laws.
We have left undone those things which we ought to have done,
and we have done those things which we ought not to have done;
and apart from your grace, there is no health in us.
O Lord, have mercy upon us.
Spare all those who confess their faults.
Restore all those who are penitent, according to your promises
declared to all people in Christ Jesus our Lord.
And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake,
that we may now live a godly, righteous, and sober life,
to the glory of your holy Name. Amen.

Now move into asking God for his power to be at work in your hearts and lives. You may want to break down into smaller groups to pray for one another. Be open to God speaking as you pray for one another by reminding you of scriptures, bringing images or words to mind, or through your emotions or physical sensations. 

You may want to pray the Lord’s prayer together to end:

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
Amen.