Connect Group resource for Week of Monday 27th April

This is a suggestion for how to lead an online Connect Group, based on the talk that David Stroud gave on Sunday 26th 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:

Podcast
Video

Information for Connect Groups

  • Please remind your groups to sign up for our new weekly email: christchurchlondon.org/subscribe
  • Our two STEPS courses kick off this week on Wednesday evening and Thursday lunchtime, and it’s not too late to sign up. If you’re interested in joining email Polly@christchurchlondon.org
  • This Sunday coming (3rd May) we have a guest speaker! Pete Greig, leader of Emmaus Rd church and founder of the 24/7 Prayer movement, has recorded a talk especially for us and we can’t wait to hear what he has to say.
  • Our next church-wide prayer evening is happening on Tuesday  5th May, 8pm-8.45pm via Zoom. It would be great to have you there!
  • 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)

In the second talk in our new series on the Fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), David spoke about peace from this gospel story: 

Mark 4:35-41

“That day when evening came, [Jesus] said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!””

We see in Jesus an example of someone who was able to have peace in the midst of life’s storms. Not only in this scene from His life, when He was able to sleep in the middle of an actual storm, but also in the way He was able to be so calm as crowds jostled to get near him, or when his family came to stop him preaching, or when his enemies verbally attacked him. Even when arrested and brought before Pilate, the man who held his life in his hands, Jesus displayed an unshakeable peace.

Work through these discussion questions: 

  • Who are the people in your life who, like Jesus, always appear to be at peace when confronted by life’s storms? What do you think it is that helps them stay calm in such situations?
  • David reminded us that Jesus not only came as our rescuer and saviour, but as a model and example of how to live.  He said that if Jesus was able to live with peace, we are too. What do you think about this? Do you think it is possible for you to live with the same peace Jesus had?

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.

Prayer (30 mins)  

This week you may want to break down into smaller groups to pray for one another. If you have a Pro Zoom account you can send people into breakout rooms. If you don’t, or are using another platform, you may need to ask a few people to start additional group chats, and set a time for everyone to come back together.

In John 14:27 Jesus says to his disciples “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  Jesus’ offer to each of us is a peace that cannot be found anywhere else. 

Jesus also taught us to pray, ‘Give us this day our daily bread’ (Matthew 6:9) and it has been the experience of countless Christians throughout history that God has provided physical needs that help weather our storms.

We don’t want to be a people that do not have, because we have not asked (James 4:2) so let’s spend some time praying for one another – for God to provide the things we need, and for us to experience His peace; a peace that transcends understanding and is able to guard our hearts and minds (Phil 4:6-7).