Church at home

We're really pleased that some of our Sunday services are starting to gather in person again. You can still join us online to watch Church at Home with friends and family on Sundays, here.

Connect Group resource for Week of Monday 3rd August

This is a suggestion for how to lead an online Connect Group, based on the talk that Andy Tilsley gave on Sunday 2nd August. 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 send out the following link to your group so they can listen/watch before you meet:

Andy’s talk

Tips for hosting Connect Group online

  • Make sure you are online a few minutes before the start of the group so that you are there to welcome people as they arrive. 
  • If you have a lot of people in the group, you may want to ask everyone to keep their mic muted unless they are talking in order to keep background noise to a minimum. 
  • In the Gratitude & Concerns round where you want everyone to speak in turn you will need to let people know who is next. We’ve found it helpful to be very active in directing this, and to ask people to end with something like ‘Thanks for letting me share’ (very STEPS!) so you know when they are finished:
    •  Group Leader: ‘X is next then Y.”
    •  X: “… thanks for letting me share.”
    • Group Leader: “Thanks for sharing X. Y is next then Z”.
    • Just make it clear that people are welcome to say ‘pass’ if they’d rather not share.
  • If your group is small enough, during the discussion you may want to suggest people unmute their mics so they can jump in when they want. This will help discussion flow more easily. With large groups you may need to keep people’s mics muted unless they are talking. This will take more active moderation – we’ve found it helpful to ask people to raise their hand when they want to speak, then wait for the moderator to bring them into the conversation. 
  • If your platform has a chat function, make use of that by pasting discussion questions, relevant quotes or Bible verses, and the links to the talk. You may also want to ask people to write their prayer requests, which could be emailed around after the meeting. 
  • Have the link for your next group available to share. 
  • You might also want to think about planning a short group chat either directly before or after one of the services as a way of offering another touch point for your group and to make it feel like you’re ‘going to church together.’ 

Note: Read out everything in italics. You may want to post these in the chat too. 

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)

On Sunday Andy continued our current teaching series ‘Living by Faith’ by looking at the story of Abraham, as told in Hebrews 11:21-23:

“By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future. By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff. By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones.”

Andy talked about how the burial of Joseph’s bones was significant to Israel, both to remind God’s people that they are part of a bigger story that is not determined by wealth and status here on earth and also that there is hope. There is hope when we walk through suffering, that that is not the end of our story but something greater is coming. 

The church today does not carry Joseph’s bones as a reminder of this, but we have the cross and an empty tomb that hold us steady in the story we’re part of when we’re tempted – either to idolise wealth and status or feel trapped in despair. The cross and the empty tomb remind us all what Jesus has done and also the hope of all that is to come. We’re part of a bigger story. 

Andy then went on to talk about how it is normally the elder sons who receive the greatest inheritance, but in these verses we’re told that the younger son, Ephraim does. In God’s kingdom the order is reversed. The meek inherit the earth, and the poor in spirit receive the kingdom of heaven. Living part of a bigger story doesn’t just change our lives, but the world around us. Hope is for everyone. The poor and needy are blessed. 

Our focus as the church is on Jesus and His kingdom. When we give our hearts to Him it not only helps us stay anchored in the storm, but it also brings blessing and salvation to the world around us as well. 

As always, the questions below are intended as conversation starters… we’re not here to simply study the Bible but to allow it to form and shape us and lead us, so if you only sit with one question, or you talk through all 3 and then 5 more, then great – wherever God is drawing you to this week,  follow Him! 

 

  • Andy used the word ‘repent’ to describe how we can daily choose to turn from where our attention has been to Jesus and His kingdom. What does repenting look like for us this week? Personally, and as a community? 
  • How does remembering the story that we have been invited into actually change our lives and the lives of those around us? 
  • While we don’t carry the bones of Joseph around with us, are there any things we can incorporate into our life, or orient our life around that can help us each day to live for the greater story? Daily rhythms of life? Habits? Choosing where we give attention at significant times of day? 

 

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). 

Reflect on these words in Matthew 4:

Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

Prayer (20 mins)

Move into a time of prayer for one another, for the church, for London and the UK, and the world.  (You may want to break into smaller groups of 2s and 3s for prayer if anyone wants to pray into particular areas that have come up in discussion).