Thankful Connections

Listing the reasons you appreciate others can solidify your bond with them.
Philippians 1:1-8

Let's take a cue from the words of Thanksgiving in Paul's prayer for the Philippian Christians. He began by thanking God for his fellow believers, thus deepening his connection with them in the most foundational way. When believers today follow his example, expressing thanks for one another, the bond among them also grows stronger.

Use this exercise in board meetings, small groups, staff retreats, Sunday school classes, ministry teams, or other small group settings.

  1. Read Philippians 1:3-8 aloud.
  2. Explain to group members that you'll use the next 30 to 45 minutes simply expressing thanks for each member. When we affirm fellow Christians, we honor God, who has placed these people in our lives.
  3. Start with one group member saying something like: "Let's take a few minutes to thank God for Jess. What do you see in Jeff's life that prompts you to thank God for Jeff? When brings you joy when Jeff comes to mind? Be prepared with a comment or two if no one speaks up immediately. People should tell brief stories or share brief discriptions of qualities in the person's life. For example, "I thank God for Sarah because she always as a kind word even when she's having a tough day." Or, "I thank God for Ron because he's always volunteering his time to help people with their computer problems." Or, "I thank God for Linda because she prays so faithfully for friends who need the Lord."
  4. Budget your time so each group member will be the subject of discussion for 4 to 6 minutes, depending on the number of participants and the time available. Be careful not to spend inordinate time on the first couple of members. Otherwise, you may run short of time.
  5. At the end of the session, ask groups members to jon hands as they sit or stand. Lead in a closing prayer that reflects Paul's words in Philippians 1:3-8 and offer praise to God for the believers in the group. Close by asking God to solidify the bond that holds you together in the unity of the Spirit.

-STEVEN D. MATHEWSON from / Christianity Today Intl