Connect Group resource for Week of Monday 6th April
This is a suggestion for how to lead an online Connect Group, based on the talk that David Stroud gave on Sunday 5th April. 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 links to your group so they can listen before you meet:
Information for Connect Groups
- Please remind your groups to sign up for our new weekly email: christchurchlondon.org/subscribe
- STEPS online is starting soon. The introduction sessions are on Wednesday 22nd April at 7.30pm, and Thursday 23rd April at 1pm. You can watch the trailer here and find out more information here.
- For suggestions of how you and your group can practically help your neighbours and city, head over to our new Caring for our City page.
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 (20 mins)
On Sunday David spoke from 1 Peter 5:6 – ‘Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s might hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.’
David suggested that to be humble means to make our peace with there being many things that are outside our control, and entrusting ourselves to the love and care of God. And then secondly, to focus upon those things we can do something about, drawing upon His grace to use this time well.
David illustrated this with the remarkable story of Immaculée Ilibagiza, a Rwandan woman who hid with seven others in a small bathroom for three months to escape the genocide in 1994. Immaculée not only survived the genocide with her faith in God stronger than before, but even found the strength in Him to forgive those who murdered her family. After learning English during her confinement, she went on to become an internationally renowned author and speaker, receiving the Mahatma Gandhi Reconciliation and Peace Award in 2007.
Whilst this will not be our particular trajectory, if we let Him, God is able to use this time to shape us and prepare us to live well so that in due course, we may be ‘lifted up’ for His glory, and the good of those around us.
Work through these discussion questions:
- How easy is it for you to find peace in the face of events that are very much outside of your control? What helps you find peace? What adds to your anxiety and stress?
- What are the things in your life that you do have control over? (David suggested things like: time spent with God, creating daily and weekly rhythms, our responses to those closest to us, opportunities to serve neighbours/the city). Thinking back over this last week, can you recognise moments when you have taken control? And moments when could have, but didn’t?
Don’t forget you may need to be active in moderating the discussion if you have a large group, asking people to raise their hands if they’d like to share, and to keep their mics muted unless talking.
Personal Reflection on next steps (5 mins)
Give people a few minutes to think about the following question by themselves. You might want to suggest they make a note on their laptop/phone. Some might prefer to turn off their video feed as they do this.
- What would ‘taking more control’ look like with regards to what you think about, how you spend your time, how you react to those closest to you, or how you can serve the city? Choose one area and try to be as specific as possible.
Group Discussion on next steps (10 mins)
You won’t have time for everyone to do this, but ask people to share what they have decided with the group.
Meditation (5 mins)
Before praying take a moment to remember you are praying to the one who ‘cares for you’. 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).
Peter tells us to cast our anxieties upon God because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:6). Similarly, in the book of Philippians, the Apostle Paul says to us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”. (Philippians 4:6-7)
In this moment, remind yourself of the care of God and consciously choose to breathe in is peace and love, breathing out fear, anxiety and worry. Breathe in… Breathe out…
Prayer (10 mins)
Move into a time of petitionary and intercessory prayer:
- Our church community
- Our world
You may want to take specific prayer requests – if the platform you are using has a chat function, ask people to write them down – you can then copy them into an email to the group.
Before you begin praying, you may want to ask for volunteers to pray for each request.
You may want to end your time by praying together either the short or long version of the Serenity Prayer, which was adopted by the 12 steps movement and is used regularly in our own Steps groups.
If praying together, remind people to unmute their mics.
Serenity Prayer (short):
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Serenity Prayer (long):
God, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.