Back in 2006, I wrote a post entitled, The Future: Sunday School over the Web?. In that post, I talked about my earlier doctoral experience on the web. At that time, primarily businesses with disbursed work force and institutions of higher education were recognizing the potential of this digital medium. I believed back then that online groups would grow.
Yesterday, my Sunday School class had our largest class to date on Zoom. Let me quickly share some history. Recently church leadership decided to move for six weeks away from in-person meetings for worship, Sunday School, and other groups. This was after cases of COVID-19 among staff and senior adults.
This is the third time (once for two weeks) the church has moved to digital. My class, Circle of Friends, quickly moved to Zoom the first time. When we were able to move back to the church facilities to meet face-to-face (with 12-20 face-to-face), we also continued to meet online with 1-5 joining us each week.
The group decided early that we did not want to exclude those who preferred meeting online. What are some reasons group members may choose digital? Consider the following:
- fear of COVID-19,
- fragile personal health,
- serving as caretakers of parents or others with fragile health,
- following potential exposure to COVID-19,
- or convenience.
Others can benefit from the time as well, if you record your online session. Consider these reasons why you should consider recording your group time:
- people working,
- people driving,
- those who overslept,
- absentees from other groups, and
- potential members (prospects).
Results of Connecting Online
Why was participation in the Circle of Friends so high yesterday? We never stopped inviting people to join us (whether we were in person or online). We invited people whose classes were not meeting. And without a doubt, I believe connecting in both ways (in person and online) has built more and stronger relationships.
We need more Bible study groups–even during a pandemic. More people need a life-changing group Bible study experience. People are searching for spiritual answers. Today, the groups can meet at the church, in a home, in the community, or online. During a pandemic, groups naturally need to meet safely. And while online groups are safe, they also have many benefits now and beyond the pandemic.
Continue to do good Sunday School work. Reach out to absentees. Invite guests. Consider adding a digital connection to your class. Deliver a great group Bible study experience through whatever mode you use. And make plans to start new online groups. Make disciples. Be revolutionary!