Connect Group resource for Week of Monday 31st August
This is a suggestion for how to lead an online Connect Group, based on the talk that Tim Frisby from our Stockwell service gave on Sunday 30th August. 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:
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 (30 mins)
On Sunday Tim finished off our summer teaching series ‘Living by Faith’ by looking at the final verses of Hebrews chapter 11. There we are given a list of people who, even though they had lived in faithful obedience to God, had some very bad things happen to them:
“There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground. These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised…” Hebrews 11:35-39
Whilst it is true to say that we are now ‘more than conquerors in Christ’ (Romans 8:37), the writer of the Hebrews makes it clear that living in faithful obedience to Jesus does not mean that we will escape pain and suffering in this life, nor does it mean that we will receive all of the things God has promised us this side of
Q. How does this make you feel? Is this idea a comfort or a challenge for you?
In verse 13 the writer refers to other men and women of faith who did not receive the things promised to them by God, though they ‘saw them and welcomed them from a distance.’ Tim spoke about the call on us as Jesus followers to develop a ‘prophetic imagination,’ so that we are able to see with eyes of faith what
Jesus’ kingdom come to earth might look like, and then stand in the doorway of history welcoming it to come in through the way we speak, live and work.
Q. Spend some time imagining together what your neighbourhood/work/relationships/London could look like if they were closer to the way God intended them to be and more in line with the values of Jesus’ kingdom.
Tim finished by highlighting the perseverance of the people mentioned in Hebrews 11, and how they worked to welcome in their ‘imagined’ future for the whole of their lives, trusting that those who came after them would receive the promises, even if they didn’t. He referenced the following quote: ‘A society grows great when old people plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit’, and encouraged all of us, whether we know we are in London for just a season or for the long-term, to choose to help plant some trees together.
Q. Persevering in faithful obedience can be hard at the best of times, let alone when we don’t appear to see any impact of our work. How do we help one another to keep on going when the promises still seem far off? What things have helped you in your battle to persevere?
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 aloud Romans 8:31-39 and invite people to meditate upon the words.
“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
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 pray the Lord’s prayer together to end:
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.