The backbone of our life together.
There are about 25 Connect Groups of up to a dozen people meeting in different locations, and at different times, in the parish and beyond for bible study, prayer and mutual care and support. We encourage every church member to be “connected” to a group (even if they are not always able to attend). Janet McLean and Janet Goodenough together co-ordinate our groups, and they are the people to contact if you want to find a suitable group.
During this first half-term of 'lockdown' we will be having a single morning service, live-streamed at 9.15am following a new series, 'Investigating Jesus' through Luke's gospel. Our Connect Group sessions will be based on this series.
Session 3 - Reset
Sermon: From Surviving to Thriving (3): Reset
Passage: Colossians 3:1-17
Date: 25 April 2021 at 10.30am
Are there any habits (good or bad) that you have picked up in the last year or so? Share as appropriate.
Read verses 5-9a. How are you dealing with some of these "earthly" things? What (more) do you need to do to really put them to death? How might we help each other in this?
Read verses 12-14. Is there something in Paul's list you know you particularly need to put on? Pray for an opportunity to show this in the coming week.
Think of someone you know who is 'heavenly minded' (in a good way!) What sort of things do they do or say that shows they have set their mind on things above (v.2)?
Extra: Read this short and helpful article and think what 'heavenly habits' you might develop - https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/set-your-mind-on-things-above
Session 2 - Renew
Sermon: From Surviving to Thriving (2): Renew
Passage: Romans 12:1-2
Date: 2 May 2021 at 10.30am
Consider some of the obvious ways we've been conformed in recent months, and then think more deeply about what things conformed us most before Covid? (Think about the things or people that demanded most of our time or had the most influence on us)
Renewal is a work of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5) that was promised long ago. Read some of the Old Testament promises about transformation (Jeremiah 31: 31-34, Ezekiel 36: 22-28). What do these prophecies teach us about how God will renew us by his Spirit?
In the first few verses of Romans 12, Paul highlights at least 3 renewing works of the Holy Spirit; faithfulness (v.2), humility (v.3) and generosity in serving (v.4-5). Focus on one of these works (do all of them if you have time) and consider how God's word may be challenging you to be renewed in these areas.
As we emerge from lockdown we may have all sorts of hopes; share and pray together about what your own hopes are for the renewal of your faith and the life of your connect group.
Session 1 - Rest
Sermon: From Surviving to Thriving (1): Rest
Passage: Matthew 11:25-30
Date: 25 April 2021 at 9:15am
How easy do we find it to 'switch off' (in the broadest sense of the word) and rest?
It has been said that if we break any of the Ten Commandments, we always break the first: "You shall have no other gods before me." (Exodus 20:3). What sort of things do we put before God when we don't rest?
Look briefly at each of the phrases in verses 28-29. Which one particularly stands out to you? "[Jesus said] Come to me..
...all who labour and are heavy laden
...and I will give you rest
...Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me
...for I am gentle and lowly in heart
...and you will find rest for your souls."
Pray that each member of the Group would come to Jesus afresh and "live near his heart, rest in his love each day" (as said William Gadsby in the hymn 'Immortal Honours rest on Jesus head' - verse 4 below)
O that my soul could love and praise Him more,
His beauties trace, His majesty adore;
Live near His heart, rest in his love each day;
Hear His dear voice, and all His will obey.
Sermon: Luke (14): Resurrection Bodies
Passage: Luke 24:-36-53
Date: 18 April 2021 6pm service
Why was it important for the first disciples and for us to know that Jesus was resurrected in a real body?
A bodily resurrection shows that bodies are a good thing - in what ways does our culture undervalue or overvalue our bodies?
“The world doesn’t want to hear what we have to say, they want to see it. So you can no longer be a disciple who isn’t behaving.” (Terry Walling) - Do you agree? How does it change the way you think about living out your faith?
"Followers of Jesus will follow Jesus" - If the future has real bodies and real creation, how does that change your view of heaven?
Extra: Read 1 Corinthians 6:12-20. Discuss what Paul says about 'the body' and the implications for Christian living.
Sermon: Luke (13): Jesus on the road to Emmaus
Passage: Luke 24:-13-35
Date: 11 April 2021
Read the whole passage (or watch it being read at one of the services). Luke is keen to emphasise that Jesus is alive. How should this fact impact the way we live? (Try and be specific - think about things like time, money, priorities, relationships etc.)
What can we do (differently) as individuals and as a Connect Group to speak more about Jesus to other Christians? How might this help us tell our not-yet Christian friends about Jesus?
Has there been a 'penny drop' moment in your understanding of the Bible and how it fit together? Similarly, was there a time when you recognised (afresh) who Jesus is? Share as appropriate.
Pray for each other that "our hearts [would] burn within us" as we read the Bible, and for boldness to 'go and tell' others about Jesus.
Sermon: The Arrival of the King
Passage: Luke 19: 28-44
Date: 28 March 201 at 9.15am
How does Jesus entry into Jerusalem shape our thinking about who he is and what kind of king he is? How would Old Testament prophecies and cultural expectations have affected people's thinking about Jesus?
Although Jesus speaks starkly about judgement we were reminded that; he is in control, he weeps as he speaks, he himself is heading to meet judgment, and it's not too late for us to make a decision to follow Jesus. How do these reminders give us hope amidst the hard words?
Jesus speaks of judgement with tears in his eyes - how can we find this balance of being bold to speak the truth about judgement and eternity, while demonstrating the depth of compassion with which Jesus speaks?
Jesus weeps over Jerusalem - in light of this, how should we view Lindfield? Spend some time praying for the people of our local community that we love.
Sermon: Jesus takes our place
Passage: Luke 23:13-23, 32-49
Date: 21 March 2021 at 9:15am
This study is a little different, and takes a ‘broad sweep’ look at Luke chapter 23. Feel free to spend time where the discussion naturally leads.
Read through the whole of Luke 23 together. You might like to taking it in turns to read a paragraph at a time, or even listen David Suchet reading from the NIV - click here.
As you read/listen, consider details that you hadn’t noticed before, or had forgotten. Share with the group about the significance of some of these details.
Consider some of the characters involved in the account. What is notable about who are ‘for’ Jesus and who are ‘against’ him? How do they display attitudes towards Jesus that we see today in ourselves or others?
Pray in response to what Jesus has done for us - that he took our place. (You may wish to use a meditation from the ‘Ocean of Grace’ book - Chris read from p.69, but there is lots to choose from in 'The Third Week of Lent' chapter.)
Sermon: Mothering Sunday
Passage: John 19: 25-27
Date: 14 Mar 2021 at 9.15am
Spend some time reflecting on the way Mary honoured Jesus as she "[stood] by the cross of Jesus" (v.25) - courage in the face of danger, dignity in the face of humiliation and strength in the face of heartache.
Despite the weight of sin on his shoulders and the pain in his body, Jesus still remembers his mother. How does Jesus' honouring his mother extend to honouring us?
How can we honour Jesus, and each other, more this week? Try and be specific. You might like to use some words from 'When I survey' as a prompt...
"My richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride."
"All the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to his blood."
Sermon: Luke (10): Jesus - invites us to suffer with him
Passage: Luke 22:39-65
Date: 7 Mar 2021 at 9.15am
Why do you think the disciples failed so badly in this passage?
Have there been times that we feel that we have failed Jesus? How has Jesus restored us as his disciples and as those who serve his purposes?
In what ways, in 2021 UK, may we find ourselves under pressure to deny Christ? How can we be better prepared to stand firm when the moment of testing comes?
How do we make sure that we are relying on the strength of the Spirit and not just our own strength and abilities?
Extra: Read and reflect on Jesus’ restoration of Peter: John 21:15-19; Acts 2:14-15, 38-39
Sermon: Luke (9): Jesus - invites us to serve with him
Passage: Luke 22:24-38
Date: 28 Feb 2021 at 9.15am
Share some of your ambitions (big or small). How do they motivate you? Has an ambition ever become too important to you and become all-consuming?
Consider a sphere of your life (eg. home or work) - what would it look like practically for you to be a 'servant leader' in that place? How does Jesus' example help us?
Jesus' ambition is to serve and to save, how does his ambition help to reshape some of ours?
Jesus serves his friends in lots of ways (not just in salvation) we see he prays for Simon, he warns Peter, he prepares them for trials and he empathises with them ("numbered among the transgressors"). How will you ask Jesus to serve you in the weeks ahead?
Extra: Read aloud the words of Philippians 2 and / or Isaiah 53 to reflect on and give prayers of thanksgiving for Jesus' serving and saving work.
Sermon: Luke (8): Jesus - invites us to eat with him
Passage: Luke 22:7-23
Date: 21 Feb 2021 at 9.15am
Share a fond memory of a special meal you have enjoyed. Why is memory so important in the life of a Christian?
Luke mentions the Passover five times in the first eight verses of the passage. Why was it such an important festival to “eat” (v.8) for Jews of Jesus’ time? (Exodus 12:1-14 might help.)
Jesus is our Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7) – his body was broken (v.19) and his blood was poured out (v.20). Why, then, might we be tempted to betray him? (Think about ‘small’ or ‘everyday’ things that might lead us away from God.)
How can ‘eating with Jesus’ empower us to serve other people?
Extra: Read this short article - www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/how-jesus-fulfills-passover/ and consider the final question, ‘Is His Blood Applied to You?’
Sermon: Luke (7): Jesus - The one with authority to forgive
Passage: Luke 5:17-26
Date: 14 Feb 2021 at 9.15am
Has the pandemic shifted your sense of ‘needs’ in any way? Are there things you thought you needed more than you really did? Conversely, are there any aspects of life you realise were more important to you than you first thought?
In this episode, Jesus attends to the paralytic’s spiritual condition before dealing with his physical limitations. When we become followers of Jesus how ought this to affect our sense of ‘need’?
Why would Jesus’ statement in verse 20 have sounded so shocking to the scribes and Pharisees? What does Jesus’ response in verse 24 tell us about his identity and domain?
Give thanks that Jesus is not only the ‘Great Physician’ (Luke 5:31-32), but the great Substitute – the One who gave his life so we might know God’s forgiveness (1 Peter 2:24).
Extra: Very few of us will feel the same sense of desperation about our life situation as the paralytic likely would have. How might living comfortably become a barrier to our sense of priorities before God?
Sermon: Luke (6): Jesus - The one with authority over creation
Passage: Luke 4:31-44
Date: 7 Feb 2021 at 9.15am
In what ways does the world around encourage us to express our own individuality? When can this be a good thing, and when does it clash with Jesus' authority
Consider each of the responses to Jesus in the passage: astonishment (v.32), recognition (v.34), service (v.39) and pursuit (v.42). How can we do all of these, and yet still not submit to Jesus' authority?
How can a greater understanding of Jesus' authority lead to greater joy in our lives?
Use Matthew 27:37-43 as springboard to prayers of thanks for all that Jesus went through - including submitting himself to the cross - to save us.
Sermon: Luke (5): Jesus - sets us free
Passage: Luke 4:14-30
Date: 31 Jan 2021 at 9.15am
Recognising that we are 'spiritually poor' is hard and humbling. Why do we find it hard to be honest about our situation and to ask for help? (perhaps you can think of other ways in which this is true too...)
Consider some of the ways in which we are captive to sin or blinded to God's mercy (there may be some things you'd prefer to talk about with a trusted friend). How is Jesus, 'good news' for us?
At various points in their history God's people 'missed out' on his blessing (can you think of other examples?). Jesus gives two examples where not only did they 'miss out' but God's blessing went to somebody else. In what ways might we be in danger of 'missing out' and how can we help friends/family to see what that Jesus is too good to miss?
Extra: Read the opening verses of Isaiah 61. How would these verses have been an encouragement to the original audience? Why does Jesus end the quote where he does?
Sermon: Luke (4): Jesus - Fully Human
Passage: Luke 4:1-13
Date: 24 Jan 2021 at 9.15am
What encouragements do we draw from the idea that God himself, in Jesus, has lived a fully human life? (See also Hebrews 4:15)
What is notable about the way Jesus responds to each temptation (verses 4, 8, and 12)? How does this help us understand how to live out the Christian life faithfully today?
Have you ever been through your own ‘wilderness season’? What did God teach you through that? How did that experience grow your knowledge and understanding of him?
Extra: In this passage the devil tempts Jesus in three ways. How might we summarise the ‘essence’ of each of these three temptations in a sentence? What might equivalent temptations look like for us today, either as a church, a nation, a village, a culture, or individuals?
Sermon: Luke (3): Jesus - the promised King
Passage: Luke 3:1-22
Date: 17 Jan 2021 at 9.15am
Universal Message: How did the opening of the passage remind us that this message is for everyone?
Uncomfortable Message: John the Baptist was the forerunner to Jesus and he prepared people by preaching repentance, warning of hypocrisy and discouraging false assurance. How does his message still resonate with us today?
Unequivocal Message: Christians are 'united with Christ' and so in Jesus we too are treated as 'Sons'. Imagine the Father speaking those words of affirmation over you - 'you are my beloved child, with you I am well pleased'. How does the verdict of a Father make us feel and help us to live for him?
If you were talking with a friend who thinks that Jesus is just another good teacher, or prophet, how might Luke’s account give you confidence to answer them? In what other ways did the passage help us to consider answers to common objections about Christianity?
Extra: Why was Jesus (who didn’t need to repent or be cleansed from sin) baptised? Read this short article
to think further.
Sermon: Luke (2): Jesus - Light of the whole world
Passage: Luke 2:22-38
Date: 10 Jan 2021 at 9.15am
How might we respond to a friend who says Christianity is just a 'tribal religion'?
Why is Jesus being a light for the whole world both a comfort and a challenge? Which of these do you most need at the moment?
How can we encourage each other to respond to God's light, and to reflect God's light? Try and be specific.
What can we learn from Simeon and Anna's example about:
a) Waiting (especially in hard, lonely, and unfulfilled times)?
b) Contentment? One commentator writes, "Here are two people near the end of their life, still serving God full steam ahead. Contentment is not a matter of age or energy level, neither is it a function of accumulation. It is defined by an openness to serve God and to share him with others."
Sermon: Luke (1): Jesus - Written into human history
Passage: Luke 1:1-4
Date: 3rd Jan 2021 at 6pm
Have you ever had moments where you've thought to yourself, "Am I crazy to believe in the Christian story?" How does Luke 1:1-4 help give you assurance that it is true?
Why is it so significant that Luke consults "those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses" (v.2)? (See also 1 John 1:1-4)
What difference might the "certainty concerning the things you have been taught" (v.4) make in our daily lives, especially during lockdown?
Extra: Luke was a scientist, a medical doctor (see Colossians 4:14). Why do you think science and religion may be perceived to be at odds today? Is this fair? This 90 second video might be a helpful conversation starter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=enB9DREJuVM
Beginning in September 2020 our Connect Groups will be studying the letter of 1 Peter together, to coincide with our preaching series at our 9.15am and 10.30am services. Please read an introductory letter from Stuart Silk.
This November, we're asking each Connect Group to take one session to look together at a short study on the theme of Stewardship:
Connect Group Extra sessions: