Part 9: Facilitating a Response
In the response time in a Connect Group, we are enabling people to put practical feet to walk out what they have just learned in the Connect group. Generally, a response time will happen towards the end of your Connect Group, after discussion, after unpacking the Word, but don’t limit it to that. There have been instances where I’ve walked into a Connect Group, and someone has bared their heart before everyone has even had a cup of coffee. We have immediately had an opportunity to rejoice and praise the Lord for something that’s happened. Or maybe there’s been tears, so prayer and encouragement are needed. Just be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, come prayed up full with the Spirit and expect God to touch people. Create an environment where people can respond. I’m going to divide what a response time is into two areas. First, an immediate response time (a response time within a Connect Group Meeting) and then I will look at a response which would play out in the days or weeks following a Connect Group meeting.
Immediate Response Time
We must never forget to give people a straightforward way to respond. We can say something like, “Well, let’s respond to this by doing this or that”, or “We’re now going to take a moment and just wait on the Lord.” When you have mature believers in your Connect group, you’ll find that because they have worked with the Lord for a time and practised this for them to respond, it becomes easy, and they’ll probably know ways in which they are to respond. But when you have unbelievers, new believers or immature believers in your Connect Group, you must be clear and boldly lead them into responding to the Lord.
What are some of the responses that we could make? The first and the most obvious one is prayer. You can pray for people, and you can give people an opportunity to pray. Connect Group is a safe environment where you can grow and learn. New believers are often very nervous about praying out loud. In those instances, it may help to give them tips on how to pray. It may help by giving them something specific to pray for, for example, “Will you please pray for George, or maybe you can pray for Julie?” It helps when they have something specific they can pray for.
It could also be personal requests. For instance, what does someone need? This could be praying for people. Maybe an unsaved friend. A family member. Someone who is sick. It could be praying for church events. It could be praying for our teachers, maybe other churches, like in Acts 4, where they prayed for boldness. Prayer could take any one of these forms.
Another response that we could have is prophecy. It’s an excellent opportunity for people in the Connect Group to encourage one another, hear from the Lord, share a scripture, and encourage the word with one another. Sometimes people may say something well-meaning but not biblical. In those instances, gently point to what the Bible says.
Another form of response could be worship. Now, worship isn’t just singing; worship can take many different forms. The first could be singing. If you have a musician or someone who sings well or your group is comfortable playing a CD and worshipping, do so. These moments can often be great moments with the Lord.
Quiet contemplation is another form of response. Sometimes, when a deep truth has come, we need just to take moments and be quiet. Silence. If it’s well intended, silence is not a bad thing. But you can lead your group into that and say, we will just be silent for a while and let what God has done settle.
Another form of response is waiting for the Holy Spirit to fill people. What a wonderful way to respond to what has been discussed. There could be those who are being filled for the first time or those who have been filled already and need once again to be refreshed by the Spirit. The Scripture speaks about a continuous filling of the Holy Spirit (Eph 5:18).
Another response could be salvation. If you have unbelievers in your group, create moments where the people can respond to the Gospel. Sometimes this can be done by asking if anyone in the group wants to get saved and leading them in the prayer. Sometimes it could be saying, “If you are here and God has stirred your heart, and you know you need Jesus in your heart, please come and speak to me as the Connect leader or maybe one of the other mature believers”. If anyone comes, follow that up over coffee, and someone could get saved.
Response time after Connect Group
Sometimes the response we need from a Connect Group meeting is not always played out in the Connect group. A response can be played out in the following days and weeks—for instance, baptism. If someone suddenly realised that they needed to be baptised, you could immediately, as a Connect Group, go outside to the swimming pool and baptise them there and then. But maybe a baptism is a moment to invite unsaved friends or family members to come and celebrate with you. So maybe they want to get baptised in a church service the following Sunday after Connect. A response could be well, who are you going to invite? Who are you inviting to Connect Group next week? Who are you inviting to the church service on Sunday? Who are you inviting to the prayer meeting or to the event that is coming up? Maybe a response would be applicable handles on “how to pray”, “how to have a quiet time”, or “how to read the Bible on your own.”
Lastly, we have a little saying we call “Closing the Loop.” It means that you bring something to completion. And I encourage that when the response has been elicited next week, whether the response was in last week’s Connect Group or worked out in the days following Connect Group. Next week you ask, “Well, how did it go?” “What happened?” “How did this response play out over the week?” You can give testimonies to answered prayers. You can give encouragement to keep going, and in that, we bring believers to maturity, and they walk out this authentic faith that we have in Jesus Christ.