Connect Group resource for Week of Monday 22nd June
This is a suggestion for how to lead an online Connect Group, based on the talk that Krish Kandiah gave on Sunday 21st 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:
Information for Connect Group leaders
Krish Kandiah is the founder of Home for Good, a charity working to find a home for every child who needs one. On Sunday he invited people to show their support for what HfG is going by signing up for their newsletter – https://www.homeforgood.org.uk/krish
We are also hosting an event on July 2nd for anyone interested in exploring fostering and adopting.
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)
Here are Krish’s 5 reasons why Christians should be involved in fighting racism:
1.Everyone has value, dignity and worth in the sight of God therefore racism is an insult to God himself.
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
2.Everyone is fiercely loved by God therefore racism is ungodly and wicked
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 1For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
3.Everyone needs a Saviour therefore racism is a denial of the gospel
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
The world is divided into those who have responded to the grace of God and those who haven’t. Racism is a denial of the gospel because it puts another barrier between people. It elevates race to something more important to the Cross of Christ.
4. Everyone is to be treated with grace and dignity in the church therefore racism denies the purpose of the church.
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
- Everyone is invited to the kingdom of God therefore racism fights the purpose of history
After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:
“Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
If we’re not fighting against racism we’re pushing people away from God and the future he is working to bring about.
- Have you ever thought about racism through a gospel lens before? Did any of Krish’s points resonate more than others? Did any surprise you? Did you find yourself pushing back against any?
- Krish’s challenge to us as a church community was to think through what our response should be. What can we do, as individuals and a community, to fight against racism?
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.
You may want to use the following Liturgy from our friends at Church of The City, NY in your prayer time:
O merciful Father, our Author of justice,
the innocent blood of those slain
cries out to you from the ground,
open-mouthed, warm, ever-red.
Come down, O God, and see what has been done!
Our politics of fear and anger have
enslaved, abused, neglected, erased, excluded, dismissed;
we confer second-class citizenship;
we legitimize the making of victims,
whom you have called your Beloved.
Don the sackcloth, sprinkle the ashes!
Bitter-weeping, we refuse to be comforted,
for there are those of us who are no more.
Will you forget us forever, O Lord?
How long until, with our own eyes, we see your justice done?
O Christ, we confess that we have looked away.
Walk with us to the margins of our world,
where you have always been,
and abide in proximity with those who are not forgotten.
Though the discomfort may break us,
O Healer, meet us where we lack and repair us with gold.
We crave an easy way, but strengthen us to rise above,
taking on each other’s burdens as our own,
learning that we are inextricably tied with our fellow image-bearers,
and we need each other on our march upward toward Zion.
Son of God, born in a manger,
you came among us, where the lowly tread.
You identify with the oppressed,
and as we do to them, we do to you.
For you, the Lord, love justice; you require mercy.
Move now, in and through us, Holy Spirit.
Search the corners of our hearts for prejudice.
Break the spirit of racism and racial superiority.
Give us a powerful hope, so that we may speak as those who do not shrink back.
Move on behalf of those who cry out to you.
We appeal to your throne of righteousness.
From the confines of our traditions, we the Church
repent of our long history of failure,
a system of sin, always before us.
Jesus Christ, alive in your people, the heart and truth of our faith,
clear the way now, in us, to be a source of hope.
May we be a witness of Kingdom community.
With each new tragedy, despair seeps into our bones.
Renew in us, O God, a hopeful kindling, fanned into flame, for the work ahead.
Create in us the imagination for a new humanity:
our multitude too numerous to count, standing at your throne;
a mosaic of every nation, tribe, people, and language, none left out;
reconciled and singing free before the Lamb.