Connection Group Discussion Guide | Week 1 Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” John 3:3
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: What do you look forward to most about a new year and why?
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. • When has there been a time in your life that you were excited for a do-over (starting a new school year, moving to a new place, or even during an exciting board game)? • What does baptism mean to you personally? Optional follow up questions – What do you think of when you see a baptism during a worship service? – How do baptisms impact your relationship with God? • If you have been baptized, share about your baptism with the group. – (How old were you? Where did it happen? Who was with you? If you can remember it, what was this experience like?) • How do you respond to the idea that “we crave the things that only God can offer us”? Optional follow up questions – When have you experienced this reality in your life? – How did God answer your prayers? • How do you respond to the idea that we experience brokenness because of sin in four areas of our lives (our relationship with God, within ourselves, with others, and with creation)?
Read John 3:1-10 • What do you think about Allison’s explanation of Nicodemus coming to Jesus at night? When have you approached Jesus in this same way in your own life? • When have you struggled with an idea in your faith, like Nicodemus struggled? Optional follow up questions – What might you be struggling with now? – How do you usually deal with these questions? • Share about a time when you have felt separated from God, whether you knew it in the moment or realized it after. – How is your relationship with God different now? • When have you been like Nicodemus, with clear expectations of what God was going to do in a certain situation, only to be surprised by God’s response? – How did your faith change in that experience? • When have you, like Nicodemus, been unaware of what you needed from God? – How did God show you this need and answer it for you? Read the following words from our United Methodist baptism liturgy with your group. Brothers and sisters in Christ: Through the Sacrament of Baptism we are initiated into Christ’s holy Church. We are incorporated into God’s mighty acts of salvation and given new birth through water and the Spirit. All this is God’s gift, offered to us without price. • Why do you think it is important that we declare what God has done for us before we are baptized? Optional follow up question – How does this change or add meaning to the baptism liturgy? • When have you taken time to intentionally think about the things God has done for you? – How does this transform your faith and your daily life? • When have you had an experience of true new life, or renewed life, in Christ? Optional follow up questions – How did this experience change you? – How long ago was this experience?
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 actively respond to scripture and God’s presence. • Where do you need renewal in your life right now? – How do you hope God will offer new life through the study and discussions in this series? • What questions of faith can you begin to explore more deeply, so that you might find a deeper or more widespread experience of new life?
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 Gracious God, even when we come to you in the darkness of night, afraid of ourselves and afraid of others, you invite us in anyway. Thank you, for accepting us in our doubts and in our arrogance. Help us, throughout this series, to be open and vulnerable about our own brokenness, so that through your grace we may find forgiveness and new life. Amen.