There have been four waves of questions or issues that I’ve been asked to help pastors and churches address during the past few months. The first was “how do we get our worship services online?” The next was “how do we get our giving/offerings online?” The third was “how do we get our Sunday School classes and/or small groups online?” Now it’s “how do we create better online Bible study group experiences for adults?”
The current issue is how we make sure our classes and/or groups are connected the best they can be.
It’s amazing how many Sunday School classes, and small group Bible study groups have utilized social media in the past few months. The greatest need is for those group times to be just as good if not better than in-person gatherings. It’s a lot easier to disengage in an online gathering than sitting in a classroom or someone’s living room! Pastors and other discipleship leaders are asking “how do we create better online Bible study groups for my adults?” Here are a few tips.
Make personal contact with every member and prospect.
No matter what format is used, all classes and groups need to make a special effort to re-engage their members as well as prospects. The truth is that online experiences will never be able to replace the personal touch. High tech still requires and needs high touch! The best thing a Sunday School class teacher or small group leader can do is to be in contact with every member of their group every week. Make those phone calls and talk with your people.
Still ask questions but call on individuals to respond.
Most groups that are discussion-based find the online format a little challenging. Especially those Sunday School classes or groups that have been used to meeting in person. The best way to make sure everyone gets involved is to call out 2-3 names for a response and then ask the question. This keeps everyone from talking over each other.
Encourage your group to be prepared.
It’s also a great idea to get the group members to be prepared before the online group time. You can send them the scripture and include a few discussion questions as well. If the group is using a curriculum, make sure to reference it in the weekly email to the group.
Keep your teaching time to about 20-25 minutes.
The typical online group experience is no more than one hour.
Sunday School classes can meet for 1 ½ hour with no problem, some small groups meet for 2 hours every week. That does not work with online gatherings! The group Bible study time is going to be about 25 minutes. The rest of the group time is spent in prayer and fellowship. Don’t neglect the fellowship time. It does people a world of good to see each other and share a little about their lives.
For more help on leading online groups go to https://gabaptist.org/discipleship/