Connect Groups

Connect Groups
    What are Connect Groups?
  • The Connect Groups of Christ Lutheran Church is an education and fellowship venue for Christ Lutheran Church during the week.  It is designed to offer a small-group atmosphere to allow members to grow in their relationship with Christ and with their fellow Christians.

    While Connect Groups are allowed to determine the size that works best for them, groups are strongly encouraged to remain an intimate size.  We recommend groups of single people to be no more than 6-10 strong and groups of couples to have no more than 14 members.  This size allows group members to participate to their comfort level without overly awkward silence or conversations being dominated.

    Connect Groups exist to:
    • Study God’s Word.
    • Create lasting, Christian relationships.
    • Support group members and pray for each other.
    • Enjoy common interests.
    • Serve their Lord and community.
      • Some volunteer ideas include: be Sunday morning greeters, find a service opportunity that the group would like to do at Christ Lutheran (Lenten supper, school volunteer, etc.), volunteer at a community function together, go Christmas caroling, etc.
    Why are Connect Groups "Small"?
  • Christ Lutheran Church is made up of Christians who seek to Connect to Christ. To do that, we would like to Connect to Each Other, Connect to God’s Word, and Connect to our Lives. Small-groups provide the ideal setting for members to form lasting Christian relationships.

    The purpose of our Connect Groups is...
    • To provide people opportunities to grow in faith and knowledge of our Lord.
    • To provide Christian fellowship and support for God's people.
    • To provide a less intimidating way for new members to become connected.
    • To equip and provide Christians with opportunities for service.
    • To provide an entry for the unchurched for contact with God's Word.
    What Is Studied?
  • Connect Groups discuss study questions and complete learning activities based upon the previous weekend’s sermon prepared by the Christ Lutheran Church staff.
    Why Sermon-Based Studies?
  • Church-wide sermon-based studies offer several advantages:
    • The entire church is placed upon a common platform for spiritual growth.
    • It provides a unique, effective communication device.
    • Sermon-based studies ensure doctrinally sound studies rooted in God’s Word.
    • Sermon-based studies allow group members to approach a study with a similar knowledge base.
    • Studies will reinforce the message preached on Sunday, making it more memorable.
    Who Can Be a Part of a Connect Group?
  • Connect Groups are for all adults and high school students, both members and non-members of Christ Lutheran Church.  Non-members are welcome, but Connect Groups don’t exist to take members from other churches nor are they forums for debating different church doctrines.  Small groups provide an excellent, non-threatening opportunity for a non-member to become involved in Bible study.  Facilitators will also encourage non-members to attend a "Connect to Christ" Course, which is our basic Christian teachings Bible class.
     
    Where do Connect Groups meet?
  • Connect Groups are encouraged to meet in members’ homes or other comfortable surroundings.  Church facilities will also be available for meetings.  Meetings may include refreshments and should begin initially with time for getting acquainted.  After Bible study, groups are encouraged to take time to enjoy each other’s fellowship.
    How Long do Connect Groups meet?
  • In general, groups will function for roughly 5-7 weeks for each of the three quarters of the Bible study year (Fall, Winter, Spring). At the end of each quarter, groups will be given a chance for evaluation on whether or not to continue as a group.  This gives new “entry” points for new members and easy “exit” points for those who want a different group.  People will always have a three week trial period where they can leave a group, no questions asked.
    What is a Hospitality Host?
  • As a Connect Group host, you do much more than just provide a home, apartment, or location to meet! You are a vital part of the ministry team. The combination of a committed facilitator and a committed host (each focusing on their role within the group) is hard to beat. Here’s a list of some of your primary qualifications and responsibilities.

    Qualifications

    The Hospitality Hosts of our Connect Groups are people who…
    • are hospitable.
      • love to make people feel welcomed and help people feel at ease
      • are generous in sharing refreshments and snacks
      • thank each person for attending as they leave
    • are kind and caring.
      • offer a friendly smile and warm greeting
      • are able to learn people’s names (nametags may be helpful for the first few weeks)

    Responsibilities

    The Hospitality Hosts of our Connect Groups shall…
    • attend all training meetings.
      • For all facilitators and hosts our annual Facilitator/Host Kickoff is held in September. This year’s kickoff is scheduled for September 17, 2017.
      • Ongoing training is provided throughout the year for facilitators on a periodic basis. Sometimes the training is held in a large group setting at the church. Other times it will be a smaller cluster meeting in a home.
    • provide a clean, comfortable home environment.
      • Is my house clean and picked up by meeting time? (A clean living room, kitchen, and bathroom help people relax and feel comfortable.)
      • Do I have enough comfortable chairs for 10-14 people?
      • Do I have enough lighting? (A well-lit … not glaring … room energizes a group, while a dark or dimly room de-energizes it.)
      • Is my house free of dog or cat odors? (If you have indoor pets, your house may well have odors that you’ve grown used to. Ask a good friend for an honest evaluation! Also, remember that many people are allergic to dogs or cats. It’s a good idea to ask your group about this at your first meeting.)
      • Are my children interrupting the group? (It’s important that children do not interrupt the flow of the meeting, either by coming into the room or by requiring you to leave the meeting. Of course, there will be times when this is unavoidable due to an emergency or special circumstance. But such times should be the exception, not the rule. If children are interrupting or within earshot, the honesty and transparency of the group will suffer.  Each group should agree on what children will do during the study … e.g. play in another room or have a babysitter provided… at the beginning of the quarter.)
    • provide a warm and friendly environment.
      • This involves things like introducing folks to one another during your first potluck/meeting and making sure to talk with and involve the shy or quiet members before and after meetings.
      • Many hosts enjoy keeping in touch with group members between meetings. Some ways to do that include:
        • Smile and willingly open your home to Christian strangers who will soon become your friends
        • Learn each person’s name
        • Facilitate child care
        • Be available to welcome late-comers and give gracious good-byes
    • provide feedback for the facilitator.
      • One of the host’s most important jobs is to discuss and evaluate the group with the facilitator on a regular basis. This often can be done informally after everyone leaves.
      • Items to discuss include the following:
        • What’s going well in the group? What’s not?
        • Who’s hurting?
        • How can you, as a host, help?
        • Is the meeting moving along at a good pace? Is it dragging at some points?
    • provide support for the facilitator.
      • Another way to help your facilitator is to jump-start the discussion when it lags. Sometimes a question will elicit no response (either because everyone is nervous or because the question is unclear). Whenever this happens, you can assist your facilitator by breaking the ice and answering the question yourself.
      • Or, if the question is unclear, you can ask the facilitator to rephrase it. This provides an opportunity to regroup and come at the issue from a different angle. Knowing that a host will help him or her out of a jam gives a facilitator a lot of security.
    • organize refreshments, socials, and service projects.
      • Refreshments. Hosts organize the weekly refreshments and/or desserts if a group chooses to have them. The host is not expected to always provide them. Help the other members of your Connect Group join in the partnership.
      • Quarterly socials. With the help of the group, the host makes sure there is at least one social event during the quarter. It could be a cookout, dinner, movie, etc.
      • Service projects. Some groups may be inclined to conduct a service project during the year for the church or community.  If your group desires to conduct one, the host can work with the facilitator and Christ Lutheran staff to coordinate one. (Optional)
    • organize meals for members in the hospital or  meet other special needs (Optional).
      • One of the opportunities a host can have is to help care for the physical needs of his or her brothers and sisters in Christ.  Maybe you can give them a call and encourage them, organize some meals to someone in need, and the list could go on! 
      • This is NOT a requirement, but it may be a gift you have an enjoy using.
    What is a Facilitator?
  • Our Connect Group facilitators hold a very important role in this ministry. Here is a list of the qualifications and responsibilities.  

    Qualifications

    The Facilitators of our Connect Groups are people who…
    • are hospitable.
      • love to make people feel welcomed and help people feel at ease
      • thank each person for attending as they leave
    • are kind and caring.
      • offer a friendly smile and warm greeting
      • are able to learn people’s names (nametags may be helpful for the first few weeks)

    Responsibilities

    The Facilitators of our Connect Groups shall…
    • prepare and facilitate the meeting.
      • Along with listening to the sermon and completing the weekly questions, facilitators also may be given extra materials to help inform them about a study and train them in group dynamics and facilitation.
      • The main roll a Connect Group facilitator serves is to facilitate discussion. Facilitators read the discussion questions and keep the group on track when needed. Here are some thoughts on doing this:
        • Be a guide-on-the-side, not a sage-on-the-stage
        • Gently encourage the “silent people” to offer insights
        • Gently discourage the “know-it-alls” to monopolize the discussion (that includes you as a facilitator)
    • attend all training meetings.
      • For all facilitators and hosts our annual Facilitator/Host Kickoff is held in September. This year’s kickoff is scheduled for September 17, 2017.
      • Ongoing training is provided throughout the year for facilitators on a periodic basis. Sometimes the training is held in a large group setting at the church. Other times it will be a smaller cluster meeting in a home.
    • track the needs of your Connect Group members.
      • As a Connect Group facilitator, you will often be in touch with the spiritual pulse of the people in your group. You will have the opportunity to display a positive Christian attitude and show care for the spiritual needs of your group.
    • communicate special needs to your pastors.
      • It’s possible that some issues will surface in your group or in a member’s life that are beyond your experience, expertise, or comfort zone. In that case, communicate your concerns to the pastors for guidance or additional help. 
      • Part of your call as a group facilitator is to work together with the pastors to help them shepherd the congregation to the best of their ability.
    • complete weekly attendance sheets and communicate those with the Connect Groups coordinator.
      • Connect Group facilitators turn in a weekly attendance sheet to the Connect Group coordinator. This can be done electronically.
      • These attendance sheets are very important. They not only help us track who is in a group, they also help the pastoral staff keep an overall pulse on the groups as a whole.
    • pray.
      • As the facilitator of a Connect Group, God has given you a special privilege and responsibility.  Keep those in your group in your prayers; thanking God for them and asking for his blessings upon them.
      • Some prayers are provided as a part of the study. Others may be requested by members in the group.
     
     
     

    What is Not Expected of Facilitators

    • Connect Group facilitators aren’t expected to be trained theologians.
      • Whenever special insight on a topic would be beneficial, please discuss with your pastors. Facilitators are not expected to do in-depth research each week. In fact, facilitator’s guide will be distributed every week.
    • Connect Group facilitators aren’t counselors.
      • They are not expected to give any Christian counseling beyond the support Christian friends naturally give each other.
    • Connect Group facilitators are not required to host the group.
      • It is our goal to have facilitators and hosts as different people. That way each can focus primarily on their assigned responsibilities.
      • If we are “lean” on volunteers to serve as hosts, the facilitator will have the option to serve as host as well. But that is NOT an obligation.

    Please note: Facilitators will ensure that discussions do not become forums for complaints or other sins against the 8th commandment.  In general, groups are not to discuss congregational personnel, policies, or practice but rather focus on the spiritual growth of individual members of the group.

    The facilitators will also take care that Connect Groups serve as a supplement to, not a substitute for, worship and gathering with the wider fellowship of Christ Lutheran Church.  While cherishing the opportunity to minister to each other on a more personal level, it is important that we recognize the role and responsibilities that pastors and elders have for shepherding souls, which is most effectively done through the members’ frequent use of the Word and Sacrament.
    What is the Schedule for Connect Groups?
  • The OFFICIAL LAUNCH of our Connect Groups for the entire congregation will be during the Winter of 2018. Registration for the Winter Session is on December 3 & 10, 2017.

    Here is a schedule of those sessions:
    • Week 1: January 7-13
    • Week 2: January 14-20
    • Week 3: January 21-27
    • Week 4: January 28-February 3
    • Week 5: February 4-10

    The Spring Session schedule is:
    • Week 1: April 8-14
    • Week 2: April 15-21
    • Week 3: April 22-28
    • Week 4: April 29-May 5
    • Week 5: May 6-12
    • Week 6: May 13-19