After not meeting for a couple weeks, my class, Circle of Friends at Parkland Baptist Church, has been using Zoom for the last three weeks. Group size has ranged from 17-27, including guests from other classes and three staff members.
Tips for Using Zoom
After three weeks of using Zoom, I want to offer seven tips for making the most of this online tool:
- If the group is larger than 7, enlist someone to control mute and unmute. Some don’t understand how little side conversation and noise it takes to interrupt. Ask permission to mute all and remind them to unmute when they want to talk.
- Plan extra time for interaction. There is a natural lag in people responding. It may work best to call on people–who have agreed to read scripture and answer questions in advance–rather than seeking volunteers each time.
- Plan time for prayer, announcements, and fellowship taking up lesson time. Some groups accomplish these before Bible study time begins, but it is challenging to do everything online the same way as in person. Our class is replying all to an email with prayer requests.
- Ensure good facial lighting. Avoid the halo effect from windows behind your head. Since 93% of communication is nonverbal, your tone, gestures, and facial expressions really matter.
- Reduce and focus your teaching material. On Zoom or other online platforms, interaction (which is really needed right now) takes even more time.
- Plan to use the chat button. Ask the group to post questions. Prayer requests are even possible, if someone will write them down to send out in a group email.
- Develop a group covenant after a couple weeks of using Zoom to address expected participation and behavior. Send it out by email to everyone and then discuss it the next time you gather on Zoom.
Debrief the Experience
Like any change to method or venue, debrief the experience. Ask yourself these questions. What went well? What do you wish had gone differently? And what will you do next time? Talk to group members. Adjust as needed. For a dozen great tips, go to Podbean for 12 Tips for Using Zoom to Teach Bible Study by my friend, Ken Braddy of LifeWay.
Keep in mind, the point is not covering material. The point is making disciples. Make the most of Zoom or any environment, in person or online. Make disciples. Be revolutionary!