Connect Group resource for Week of Monday 15th June
This is a suggestion for how to lead an online Connect Group, based on the talk that Joel Wade gave on Sunday 14th June. 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:
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.
This week you may want to just lead an honest discussion around people’s reactions and reflections on the last few weeks and the issues of racial injustice it has brought into the spotlight, encouraging people to share their personal experiences of racism if they feel comfortable.
Or you may want to use the below and use Liam’s talk on fasting from Sunday to help frame the discussion.
NOTE: If you are a white leader of a majority white group you may want to call the people of colour in your group before the meeting to give them a heads up about the conversation and to talk through any fears or hesitations they may have about entering into a conversation like this in an ostensibly ‘white space.’
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)
Joel spoke on the kindness of Jesus. It’s the kindness of Jesus that led Him to live the life and death that He did. Jesus expressed His power through loving, sacrificial kindness.
Mark 10: 13-31
People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them. 17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’ 20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy. 21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” 28 Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!” 29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
Jesus came to bring the kingdom to us! We cannot earn our way into the kingdom of God, but we can receive it as little children. We can receive the gift of a Father who loves us.
We see the comparison in the disciple’s response to the children and rich young ruler when each wanted to come and talk to Jesus. The disciples tried to usher the children away, but gave no objection (as we know) to the rich young ruler. Yet, Jesus turned both on their heads. He wanted to make it clear that the Kingdom is for everyone – every race, every nation, every person. To receive it, we need an open heart.
How do we model how Jesus lived in our own lives?
How do we avoid falling into the same trap as the disciples and making decisions about the kingdom that aren’t ours to make?
Identity: Jesus lived His life from the overflow of knowing He is loved by the Father, and that everyone is made in and carries, the image of God. How does identity shape your life … your decisions/your responses/your prayers/your sense of purpose/your loving others? Do you identify with the children/the disciples/the rich young ruler – what may this be speaking to you about?
Action: Kindness is an action. Joel spoke about the information/action ratio…we can have a lot of information, but feel overwhelmed and powerless to act, which becomes a melting pot for anxiety. What can we do to actively combat this, personally and as a group/service so we are a church that acts with kindness that is felt and seen in the city?
Influence: How are we using/planning to use the power that we have? Who will we have around our dinner table? Who will we listen to? Who will we work with and for? Who will we include and invite to Jesus? Who will we love with action?
Prayer (10 mins)
Move into a time of petitionary and intercessory prayer:
Our church community
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. People can take it in turns to pray, unmuting their mic as they do.
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.