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Connect Group resource for Week of Monday 13th July

This is a suggestion for how to lead an online Connect Group, based on the talk that Liam Thatcher gave on Sunday 12th July. 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:

Liam’s talk

Information for Connect Group leaders

  • Our Alpha course started on Tuesday July 7th, but it’s not too late for people to join if they want to! Please be continuing to pray for those doing Alpha at the moment! 
  • Our next church Zoom Prayer Meeting is at 8pm on Tuesday 21st July. (Meeting ID: 991 6085 1068 Password: 733744)

 Note to Connect Group leaders 

Many of us in this time are starting to have more candid and open conversations around race issues, and how racial inequality is experienced in the UK, and sadly even in the church. We understand that leading a group at this moment may well be complex and messy, especially as we attempt to pastor people who are experiencing things in very different ways. For our people of colour there may well be feelings of grief, sadness, anger, fatigue, despair or re-triggered trauma. For our white people there may be feelings of grief and anger against injustice, but also guilt, shame, confusion, defensiveness, or fear of saying ‘the wrong thing.’ 

We want to create spaces where people who know and love one another, and who understand the gospel, are able to have uncomfortable conversations.  The gospel of Jesus enables us to humbly acknowledge our sin, confess it and repent of it, because we know that through the Cross there is forgiveness and grace and the power to change. 

The gospel also reveals to us a God who has stepped down into the evil of the world, experiencing the weight of injustice personally, in order to not only bring us hope for a different future where his Kingdom of love and justice will one day come in full, but his loving presence with us right now. 

We are all going to get things wrong in the months and years to come, but we can’t let the fear of that stop us from engaging in conversations that are long overdue. We need to remember that perfect love casts out fear, and pray that our love for one another, and the body of Christ, will win out over everything else. 

As a church we are committed to listening, learning and from this taking actions that will shape us for the long haul. 

We also recognise that as we move into an easing of lockdown, this is bringing new challenges for people. Some are excited to move into this next season, others fear being left behind because they are still needing to shield, some are anxious about jobs, the future, and many other situations that people are facing. As we shift into new ways of doing things we need grace for each other so that we continue to move forward together! People will be making different decisions about safety, travel, and gathering in person, and that’s ok. We’re in this together, whatever that may look like for a while. As Connect Group leaders, please remember you’re not in this on your own. If there are people in your group who are particularly struggling, there is a Pastoral Support team who would love to connect with and support people. We also have the Prayer Team ready to pray with people. If you have any questions, please contact your Service leader, who will be able to point you in the right direction! You’re doing amazing, and we’re praying for you as you serve people in this way… ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.’

Have a great week!

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)

Liam started our new series, ‘Living by Faith’. In this series, we’re looking at the stories of men and women in Scripture who trusted God, clung to His promises, and were commended for their faith. And as we consider their examples, we will learn how we can also trust God and live faith-filled lives.

Liam started by teaching us that we can live lives of faith because of who God is. His:

  • Ability: He is able to keep His promises
  • Integrity: He is of good character and cannot lie
  • History: He has a track record of always showing Himself to be faithful.

What did you think when you heard this? Have you thought about faith in these terms before? Do you believe this? How does this actually shape us living lives of faith? 

Liam then went on to talk about how living by faith is:

  • Relational: it flows from relationship with God
  • Regular: it’s part of our everyday
  • Responsive: it follows God’s voice

Where were you encouraged/challenged through this? What connected with you that you think God may be speaking to you about? What will this look like this week, or this month? 

Prayer (10 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). 

End your time by praying the Lord’s prayer together. We often treat this as just a template for individual prayer, but it was given to a community and was intended to be prayed as a community.

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 forever. Amen.