Church at home

For the foreseeable future, instead of meeting in our normal settings, we have moved our Sunday Services online for you to watch with friends and family at home here.

Connect Group resource for Week of Monday 27th July

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

David’s talk

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)

On Sunday David continued our current teaching series ‘Living by Faith’ by looking at the story of Abraham, as told in Hebrews 11:8-12:

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.

 Verse 8 talks about Abraham receiving his inheritance. In the scriptures, inheritance is mentioned a lot (over 700 times!) and it isn’t mainly used to talk about the material possession that become yours once your parents have died. Instead it most often refers to the things that God has promised to bring about.

David reminded us of three things:

 

  • We can’t remain passive with regards to the promises of God. We need to go and get them. As someone once put it, God’s promises are invitations into ongoing partnership with him.
  • Like Abraham, we may have a very incomplete picture of where we are headed, or how to get there, so we have to trust God in the going. Faith in the goodness of God must become our lifestyle.
  • Patience is vital as God’s timing is often very different to ours. Hebrews 6:12 says we are to ‘imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.’ God is often most at work in our hearts in the waiting.

 

Q1. What do you think about the idea of God promising individuals certain things? Is this something you find helpful or something you find challenging? 

Q2. Are you living with a sense of God having promised you something? If so, David’s challenge to us was to think about what the next step might be. If you are comfortable, share what you think that might be.

Q3. Have you ever been disappointed with God’s timings? Share an experience of having to wait for something you felt certain God had/has for you. What helped you keep trusting in the goodness of God as you waited for your inheritance?

Meditation (5 mins)

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). 

Read through Romans 4:18-21 and reflect upon the fact that our God has the power to do what he has promised:

Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 

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.