4 Ways People Can Grow Together Through Online Small Groups

“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” — Hebrews 10:24-25

At Life.Church we have a saying when it comes to small groups, “Life is better together.”  As church leaders, we relish the opportunity to see our attenders meeting, praying, and studying God’s word together. We love hearing stories of positive life change and the unbelievable impact of Christ-like community in our churches. Knowing how important these relationships are, how do we encourage connection when stay-at-home orders are in place? As Hebrews 10:25 implies, it’s time to be inventive in encouraging love and acts of kindness, but most importantly meeting together! Here are 4 ways that small groups can still meet together, even while “social distancing” is keeping them apart.

1. Video Chat.

Platforms like Zoom and Google Meet have become increasingly popular in the last few weeks. Not only are companies using video chats, but schools, families, and small groups are joining in. Many small group leaders are holding their weekly meeting behind a computer screen, phone, or tablet. Jana Miner, LifeGroups/LifeMissions Project Leader at Life.Church Albany, mentioned how encouraging digital groups have been at their location:

“Some people feel even more connected to their small group right now. There’s less hassle to make a physical meeting, and people feel more comfortable opening up with each other in the comfort of their own homes.”

-Jana Miner

2. Study the Bible Together.

A few years ago, the YouVersion Bible app introduced Plans with Friends, an amazing feature that allows fellow app users to complete Bible Plans together. A chat feature even allows for comments and thoughts on the study to be passed back and forth. Small group leaders can use the Bible app to encourage members to study the Bible together throughout the week. This free app is a great way to connect with small group members while also connecting with Scripture! Click here for some more great ideas on how to encourage Bible engagement!

3. Check-in Weekly.

In the Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast episode called Leading Through Crisis, Pastor Craig Groeschel urges leaders to communicate frequently in this season. Whatever way a small group leader chooses to communicate, it’s important for them to stay consistent, keeping those lines of communication open. So what is the best way to easily stay connected during this season? One way is through group messages. Whether through group texting apps, Facebook groups, or other digital platforms, sending frequent group texts not only connects a leader to their people, but it also connects their people with each other. Some leaders may send Bible quotes or images from their morning devotions or ask for prayer requests. Other leaders may send funny memes to help keep their week positive and lighthearted. A small group member could be going through something but is hesitant to share right away, so various kinds of consistent communication helps to establish this new digital space as a safe one.

4. Pray for each other. 

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results” (James 5:16). We know that the most powerful thing we can do for each other is to pray. To encourage community prayer, the YouVersion Bible App recently released YouVersion Prayer, a digital prayer list connected to the app. Friends can easily post personal prayer requests that show up on their feed. Users can read through prayer requests, pray for them, and click a button to let their friends know they’re request was acknowledged. Small group leaders can tell group members about this new feature, expanding the reach of our prayers across the globe!

We could never have anticipated doing ministry from our living room couches, but right now, this is our reality. Now is the time to utilize the digital tools we have access to and lead the way within our small group ministries! Want to dive into some small group resources or are you looking to recruit new potential small group leaders? Take a look at these great resources from the Open Network:

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