Connect Group resource for Week of Monday 20th April
This is a suggestion for how to lead an online Connect Group, based on the talk that Jo Wells gave on Sunday 19th 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 link 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)
We’ve started a new series on the fruit of the Holy Spirit, the gifts that God grows in our lives as we walk with Him, gifts that lead us to freedom… this week we started with joy. The joy of God is not of this earth, it’s a joy that strengthens and sustains, it’s a joy that helped Jesus endure the cross. God doesn’t give us ‘a’ joy, but His very own joy.
Q. Do you know this joy in your life? How has God’s own joy been present in your life? What has it meant for you? How has it led you in certain situations/experiences? What would you say you have learnt about joy, and what are you grateful for?
Jo drew our attention to see joy in the context of lamenting and eternity. Lamenting is grieving with God, and bringing our pain to Him. To understand life in the light of eternity is to recognise that we are living ‘in between’ – Jesus has been, and He is coming back. As we wait, the presence of God is our gift – the Holy Spirit who will never leave us. Jo told the story of the prodigal son to help us see how we might be living and how we can live.
Q. Do you identify with either of the sons in particular? Are there areas of your life that you have been trying to handle on your own and you know you need to bring back to the Father/ – perhaps you know you need to bring the pain to Him, and recognise your need for Him? Have you been doing ‘all the right things’ but not really sharing in all that God has for you, or not really opening your heart to receive everything that is already yours? What stood out to you about this story? What might God be speaking to you about with regard to receiving His joy?
Q. What can it look like in this season to live in the freedom that His joy brings? What can it look like to both grieve and dance? How can we serve others humbly in love? Is God speaking to you about anything in particular?
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.
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).
Jesus said to His disciples, ‘As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete’.
Take a few moments to reflect upon this, that Jesus longs to fill us with the joy of His Holy Spirit. In this moment, breathe in the eternal, unchanging love of God. And breathe out fear, anxiety and worry, and trying to fix things on your own. Breathe in the peace and presence of the Holy Spirit… Breathe out questions, uncertainties, or loneliness. 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 the Archbishop’s prayer for all those affected by coronavirus and or/the Lord’s Prayer.
If praying together, remind people to unmute their mics.
Keep us, good Lord,
under the shadow of your mercy.
Sustain and support the anxious,
be with those who care for the sick,
and lift up all who are brought low;
that we may find comfort
knowing that nothing can separate us from your love
in Christ Jesus our Lord.
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.