Connections Summary

January–April 2022

Unit 1: God Isn’t Finished with Us Yet

Lori Walke

This unit begins in the book of Jeremiah, where we learn what a scattered faithful community can do with even the smallest sliver of hope. Then we will spend two weeks with the book of Isaiah, where we find assurance that God delivers God’s people from what holds them captive and that we can trust that the best is yet to come. We will then turn to the book of Nehemiah, where we are reminded of the timeless truths in Scripture that can help us live in truth. Finally, we will return to Jeremiah to connect the call of the prophet with God’s call on our own lives. God is still gathering us, delivering us, working on us, challenging us, and calling us to be part of the ever-unfolding journey of bringing us closer to the reality that God has in store for God’s people.

Unit 2: Growing in Discipleship

Nathaniel Hill

This unit will explore how followers of Jesus grow in discipleship. Throughout the four sessions, Jesus’ words and actions will teach us what it means to follow him. Jesus sets out in this ministry alone, but he soon gathers disciples. The first disciples start off on the right foot as they leave everything to follow Jesus, but they have much to learn. By the unit’s end, they will stumble badly. In the end, it will not be their strength but rather Jesus’ commitment to them and to his ministry that keeps his mission and his disciples on track. Through everything, paying attention to Jesus is what guides growth in discipleship.

Unit 3: Lenten Actions

Keith Durso

We are all familiar with the three “R’s” of learning: reading, writing, and ’rithmetic. In these four lessons, we will learn the four “R’s” of Lent: Response, Recognition, Repentance, and Return. We will study Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness, recognize that Jesus is our Savior, hear Jesus exhort people to use their common sense to interpret the special times in which they live, and finally visit Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son. Studying and applying these four “R’s” can go a long way toward helping us develop better relationships with God and with people.

Unit 4: Easter Goals

Ed Sunday-Winters

In this unit, we will examine four passages that offer a foundational framework for daily Christian living. In Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi, we will read of the value he places on knowing Christ so that we develop a Christlike way of looking at life, our world, and our fellow human beings. In Paul’s letter to the church at Rome, we will see that because of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, it is possible for us to consider ourselves “dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” In the book of Acts, Luke will show us what it looks like when God’s saving actions through Jesus Christ flow into our daily living. As pursuers of the Christian life, we can experience all of life’s moments through our connection with and understanding of Jesus Christ.

May–August 2022

Unit 1: Openness

Steven M. Sheeley

Through a study of selected texts from the book of Acts, this unit will challenge us to explore how today’s church can embrace openness. Session 1 will focus on the story of Saul (later Paul) being healed by Ananias in Acts 9. In session 2 we will observe Peter’s emerging role as a healer and leader outside of Jerusalem. Session 3 will examine Peter’s report to the church in Jerusalem about his experiences with Gentile believers. Session 4 will examine Paul’s vision of a “man of Macedonia” calling Paul and his companions to bring the gospel’s message to Greece. Finally, session 5 will follow Paul and his companions in Philippi. Throughout the unit, we will think about ways to encourage our own openness to the leading of God’s Spirit.

Unit 2: Embracing the Truth

J. Barrett Owen

The Holy Spirit communicates truth to us on God’s behalf and reminds us of the ways of Jesus. We have access to the Holy Spirit anytime and anywhere. Unfortunately, we don’t always keep this truth in the forefront of our minds, and neither do the characters in Scripture. Over four weeks, we will encounter psalmists and disciples who struggle to embrace the truth of God’s love in the midst of difficult circumstances. We will begin in the Gospel of John for two weeks moving to the psalms, where laments of pain and sadness will help us to embrace hard truths.

Unit 3: Necessary Actions

Elaine Sveet

In this unit, we will wrestle with the question of what are the necessary actions for those who love Jesus. What if you could reimagine yourself as an ideal disciple of Jesus? What if being a follower of Jesus became a brighter part of your identity? What is necessary for you to live a more abundant Christian life? This unit will serve as an opportunity to consider how following Jesus shapes our daily living. We will explore five attributes of disciples: (1) a willingness to go, (2) courage to help, (3) attentive learning, (4) trusting prayer, and (5) right priorities. Through various examples in the book of Luke among Jesus’ acquaintances and parables, we will see how these actions are habitually vital to a life of faith.

Unit 4: Coming Attractions

Sharon Mack Temple and Nancy Ellett Allison

The book of Hebrews is written to first-century believers who have been suffering for their faith. The author lifts up the reasons that following Jesus is a better path to faithful living through examples from Israelite history. In session 1, we will learn that our journey into the future is always an unknown, just as it was for Abraham and Sarah. Session 2 will remind us that all are welcome on this journey of faith, including Rahab who worked as a prostitute and leaders like King David. In session 3 will contrast the Israelites’ experience of God on Mount Sinai with Christians’ experience of God on Mount Zion. Finally, session 4 will provide an answer to the question “How, then, should we live?” The answer revolves around a love that is shared generously with strangers and fellow travelers.