Are you doing online ministry? If so, what is your goal of online ministry? Is it simply to stream your church services to the world so you can reach more people? Or is it for something more?
Although it is good that many churches stream their services to help people who are sick or traveling stay connected to the church, I have discovered that Online Church can be so much more than live-streaming.
What would it be like to not just stream your services but to actually build a community of people striving to figure out life and how God is apart of it? If that was your goal, how could you go about doing that?
One of the ways I have found successful is by starting Online Life Groups.
“Online Life Groups? That’s not possible Tom! You can’t build community with people online! You need to be face to face and meet people in person for real community and spiritual growth to happen”
Yes, that would be ideal, but the reality is not everyone is able to meet in a home group or life group. What do you do with those people? Say they are out of luck? Of course not! You want them to connect and that is why online life groups are a very viable and effective option. Real community CAN and DOES develop online. Just ask all those online dating sites and fantasy football leagues.
So how do you do Online Life Groups? Here are a few ideas:
- Facebook Groups. I like to use Facebook groups because most people are on Facebook and it provides an easy entry to experience what an online group is like. Each day I will post a scripture, challenge, image or video to encourage them and to also get a discussion going. The more interaction that happens the better the discussion and trust that builds up where people begin to share “real life” issues with each other.
- Google Group. Google groups are great to have a set number of people together discussion questions or topics in a forum type of way. I tend to run these for 8-10 weeks at a time centered around a topic or a book in the Bible. A new lesson is posted every Monday and the people have a week to respond to this. As with the Facebook groups, the more interaction the better the conversations that happen.
- Text Message Apps. Group chats work great as a way to share scripture and encourage each other daily to grow in Christ. I have used apps like WhatsApp for a while with a group and it has been great. This is really effective for International members of our church…although hearing the text alert sound in the middle of the night when they are up and I am not isn’t always great. ☺
- Video Conferencing. If using social media and forums aren’t your cup of tea, then maybe video conferencing using Google Hangouts or Zoom. You can get together online at a certain time and actually have interactions LIVE as you discuss life just like a “physical” life group.
Life groups are vital to helping people develop and grow in their faith. Unfortunately not everyone is able to participate in a traditional life group. That is why technology is great. The more technology evolves and changes the more opportunities there are for people to experience a life group online.
What do you think? Have you tried online life groups before? What format do you use and how have you seen people grow in their faith because of it? Share below.
Tom started YMSidekick.com back in 2007 (under “Not a Mega Church” branding) with the purpose to help ministry leaders do ministry more effectively. Tom writes, create videos and podcast weekly. In addition to the work he does at YMSidekick.com, Tom blogs regularly for Orange Leaders and is an official Orange Blogger. Follow Tom on Twitter @tapounder