Monday 17 June 
Home     Connect     The First Stone - Connect Groups     What Are Connect Groups?     Introduction     Week One     Week Two     Week Three     Week Four

The First Stone - Connect Groups

What Are Connect Groups?

 

What are Connect Groups? 

 

‘Connect Groups’ is the name we give to small informal gatherings who decide to meet together to explore the Bible alongside our monthly themes. These groups are independent and folk can simply set up their own Connect Group themselves, meeting together with friends and family on their own basis. In this time of Lockdowns when people can’t get together physically this material can still be used to meet together online.

Each month we produce a range of questions to adapt our themes for group discussion. The material is offered as a starting point and there is no need to go through all the questions.You can pick and choose, tailoring it to suit the needs and interests of your group. Each ‘Part’ could form the basis of a weekly roughly 90 minute meeting but you could break it up differently. Let us know if you would like to find out more about Connect Groups and different ways of linking into the Sanctuary First community.

We all come to the Bible with our own questions, insights and barriers. The guiding principle we have in writing these is to ask questions we don’t already know the answer to! Our hope is to facilitate open-ended discussions. Often the most valuable parts of group chats are the bits that go off on bizarre tangents. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Jesus knows a thing or two about bizarre tangents…

 

Need some advice on starting your own Connect Group? 

Get in touch.

Introduction

 

Introduction

 

This November, we will be reflecting on the relationship between stone and memory. We will cover geological deep time, ancient standing stones, paperweights, gravestones, precious stones and Jesus — the cornerstone of our faith.

The First Stone is an English translation of words that came out of Jesus’ mouth when religious people where lining up to stone a woman who had sinned big time in their book. Jesus turns the tables on them and says; 'Those of you without sin cast the first stone'. In recalling this story, we are reminded that stones are used in the Bible to speak of grace and forgiveness, hope and loss, redemption and remembrance. Jounrey with us this month as we explore some of these stories. 

In week one we start by thinking about the lasting nature of stone, and how it is used in scripture as a metaphor to talk about the enduring grace and love of God.

In week two we move from reflecting on the nature of God to considering how human beings have used stones as a markers in time. We raise memorials of stone to remember; people, events and follies, so that we can learn from history and pass on the common good.

In week three we think of stones as the burdens we bear and the anchors that hold us firm and the hurt we hurl at each other.

We bring our theme to a close thinking of our Christ as our cornerstone of faith. We recall how stones come in all shapes and sizes and speak to us of faith, hope and love, and our life foundation built on Jesus the cornerstone.

 

SEEDS TO SOW: We have a 'Seeds to Sow' phrase at the beginning of each section. These are open-ended and optional and are designed for people wanting to develop their own ideas/resources in response to the material. Perhaps if using this material as a group you could use these prompts to inspire a time of prayer, or drawing, or creative writing? They are intended to be short and sweet, simply a starting off place for you and your imagination, be encouraged to tailor/develop as suits your group.

 

Download the Discussion Questions as a PDF

 

These discussion questions adapt our monthly themes for small Connect Groups or personal Bible study. The questions are divided into 5 parts to correspond with the 5 weeks of the Daily Worship theme. They are offered as a guideline and there is no need to go through all the given questions in a single session, or in the following sequence. Feel free to pick and choose, or adapt to what interests you or your group.

 

Find how to get involved: Connect group Blog

Week One

 

The Eternal Rock

 

Our readings this week draw us into the heart and character of God. While we can never fully understand the purposes of God, the scriptures teach us that God has created us out of love and he has the capacity to risk creating a creation in which his love becomes the redeeming birth and completion of his creation. He is the God who shelters us, shields us, inspires us and shapes us.

SEEDS TO SOW: What does the word ‘shield’ mean to you?

Read Isaiah 51: 1-6

What is the difference between the rock and the quarry?

Is there something revealing in this passage about the culture we live in and the faith by which we are shaped?

Read Exodus 33: 12-23

Are there times when God would be too much for us? Times when we begin to understand that God shields us from his power?

Read Psalm 40: 1-3

What effect does sharing a personal testimony of God’s provision have on us and also on the person listening? Should we encourage more personal testimonials?

* SEEDS TO SOW: These are open-ended and optional prompts and are designed for people wanting to develop their own resources in response to the themes. Perhaps if you are using this material as a group you could use these prompts to inspire a time of prayer, or drawing, or creative writing? They are a short and sweet, simply a starting off place for you and your imagination. Tailor and develop as suits your group.

Week Two

 

Stones have meaning — memories carved in our hearts

 

In week two we move from reflecting on the nature of God to considering how human beings have used stone as a marker in time. We raise memorials of stone to remember, people, events and follies, so that we can learn from history and pass on memories for the common good.

SEEDS TO SOW: What are the things that really last?

Read Joshua 4: 1-7

If stones held the ancients’ memories — will digital last to hold ours?

Today’s stones are perhaps digital files, be they text, film or some other medium but what’s interesting is that stone may outlive the digital. Discuss!

What for you is the enduring hope to keep memories alive?

Read Isaiah 49: 14-16

Memory holds our identity — how can we support those whose memory is fading and with it their identity? What has this scripture to say to such a person?

Read 1 Samuel 17: 48-50 (the whole chapter tells the story, so you could read the whole thing in advance and then focus on these three verses)

What metaphorical giants might be laid low by a small act of faith? Discuss.

 

SEEDS TO SOW: These are open-ended and optional prompts and are designed for people wanting to develop their own resources in response to the themes. Perhaps if you are using this material as a group you could use these prompts to inspire a time of prayer, or drawing, or creative writing? They are a short and sweet, simply a starting off place for you and your imagination. Tailor and develop as suits your group.

Week Three

 

Rocks, anchors and burdens

 

In week three we think of stones as the burdens we bear and the anchors that hold us firm and the hurt we hurl at each other.

SEEDS TO SOW: There’s an interesting tension and interplay between the light yoke (Matthew 11:28-30) and the strong anchor (Hebrews 6:13-20). Reflect on the role of strength but also lightness in our faith.

Read John 8: 3-11

What are the feelings that are aroused within you when you read this account of Jesus’ response to facing an execution?

Read Ecclesiastes 3: 5 (verses 1-8 for context)

What do you think this gathering of stones and throwing stones away means?

Read Hebrews 6: 13-20

In a world of false hopes verse 17 reminds us of the unchangeable promise of God. Discuss why we can hold to it as sure and steadfast?

 

SEEDS TO SOW: These are open-ended and optional prompts and are designed for people wanting to develop their own resources in response to the themes. Perhaps if you are using this material as a group you could use these prompts to inspire a time of prayer, or drawing, or creative writing? They are a short and sweet, simply a starting off place for you and your imagination. Tailor and develop as suits your group.

Week Four

 

Stones that become precious

 

Finally in week four we recall how stones come in all shapes and sizes and speak to us of faith, hope and love, and our life foundation built on Jesus the cornerstone.

SEEDS TO SOW: What is truly precious in life?

Read Matthew 16: 13-19

Discuss how this passage reminds us that God can use ordinary people to do extraordinary things.

Read 1 Corinthians 3: 10-15

So what, to your mind, is this passage saying about the activities we carry out in the name of God? 

Read Matthew 21: 42-44

There is a backstory to the cornerstone analogy that Matthew connects with Jesus. Check out Psalm 118: 22-25 and the comments in the daily readings for Sunday 26 November:

Explore the story of the rejected Cornerstone when building the second temple. It was initially rejected but then used to hold up the south west corner of the outer wall to keep the whole building from sliding down the valley into the rubbish dump known as Gehenna. It was used as a metaphor of God’s choice over human choice when building the temple.

Does this give a new perspective on being rejected?

 

SEEDS TO SOW: These are open-ended and optional prompts and are designed for people wanting to develop their own resources in response to the themes. Perhaps if you are using this material as a group you could use these prompts to inspire a time of prayer, or drawing, or creative writing? They are a short and sweet, simply a starting off place for you and your imagination. Tailor and develop as suits your group.

Chapters

Resources

Archive