Connection Group Discussion Guide | Week 4 The mission statement of our Connection Group is ____________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________.
Connect (5 to 10 minutes) Come together to build relationships through fellowship and sharing about this week’s worship. • Take a few minutes to share your thoughts about worship this week. What aspects of worship did or did not connect with you? What story or illustration made an impact on you? • Icebreaker: Share about your experiences with running. Are you an avid runner? Do you hate running? Why? What do you love or hate about it?
Context (30 to 40 minutes) Dig deeper into the videos and scripture for this week through questions and discussion. Watch the video for this session on your Connection Group DVD or online. As you answer tonight’s questions, begin to think of how they are directing you towards developing a mission statement for your small group. • Why is it essential to have community within the church? Could we achieve that same thing with our communities outside of the church as well? • Why do you think that church communities (such as our connection group) sometimes wander and become unfocused? How would a mission statement help us to stay on track? • Have there ever been groups outside of this connection group, or even groups outside of the church altogether, that deepened your faith? How did that change your understanding of faith? • Do you think that there are any goals that every small group of St. Andrew should be working towards? Are there any goals you feel your group is uniquely working towards?
Read Jeremiah 29:1-9 • Jeremiah challenged these exiles not only to feel comfortable in a new land, but to feel comfortable forming new relationships with people very unlike them. Describe a time when you felt like you had to “start over” in life. How did you connect with new people? • Jeremiah is challenging his people to believe that God can work in any location, despite its distance from the temple. Where are some places you find it challenging to find God’s presence? Why? How do you focus on God in those times/places? • What does this passage mean for you and your group as your think about writing a mission statement?
While this might sound like great news for the Israelites to find a new home and start a new life, this was not good news to the exiles. They did not want to settle in Babylon, but wanted to be rescued and taken back to Israel. Instead, they receive a message to settle down and make new neighbors. This is a challenge not only for them to meet new people, but to believe that God can be present and active in a place that is far away from the Temple in Jerusalem.
Read John 17:14-23 Rather than standing and instructing the disciples about the future of the church, on the eve of his crucifixion, Jesus instead turns to prayer. Jesus prays for the future of his followers and in doing so, shows that the future of the church belongs to God and no one else. We are the church for whom Jesus prays.
• What does it mean to you to know that Jesus prayed for you, for St. Andrew, for the church as a whole in this prayer? • What are some of the things you hear Jesus praying for in this scripture? Do you see these things in the world? Why or why not? • What does the word “unity” mean to you as a Christian? • How can your group’s mission statement help make this prayer a reality?
Call (10 minutes) We believe that God not only shows us who God is but invites us to participate in God’s ministry by answering unique calls in our own lives. Join together in discovering how we can respond to scripture and God’s presence as a church and as individuals. • Take time as a group to write a mission statement for your specific Connection Group. Take care to ensure that this mission statement falls in line with the St. Andrew mission statement, the United Methodist mission statement, and the Great Commission. • One suggestion: If your group is having trouble developing a mission statement, choose a Bible verse that is meaningful for your group and shape the mission statement around this scripture.
Closing (5 minutes) God calls us into community by sharing our joys and concerns together in prayer and supporting one another in our walks with Christ. As we share testimony and stories of our lives, let us listen to where God is working within our community and how we can build each other up in Christian love. • Share joys and concerns with one another. • Close in prayer, either by inviting a group member to pray or by using the prayer provided below. Closing Prayer Almighty God, we thank you for the mission that you have entrusted to us. Let us be empowered in the knowledge that Christ prayed for us and continues to be present with us through the Holy Spirit. As we move forward as a group, help us to live by the mission statement we have created for our group, and let us always move toward the Great Commission through our words and actions. Amen.