We believe that life change happens in the context of relationships, and at Highlands, those relationships are often built through Small Groups. However, due to current circumstances, more and more Small Groups are unable to meet in-person.
Even though in-person community is ideal, through today’s technology, there is an easy and impactful way for people to enjoy community with others from the comfort and safety of their homes. We believe that during this time, Small Groups can still meet and thrive through online platforms.
If you’re looking for how to best utilize technology for these settings and equip Small Group leaders to lead virtually, we encourage you to do the following:
1. Equip Leaders and Participants with Basic Information
While most people today would be considered “tech-savvy,” never assume that everyone knows how to utilize technology best to connect with others. We encourage you to reach out to your leaders and participants with basic information on what platforms are available and how to use them practically.
The Highlands team has had success with online Small Groups through platforms like Zoom and Skype, and groups have also succeeded with text communication through iMessage or apps like GroupMe. We encourage you to find some platforms that you think would be best for your church family and then communicate these options to your Small Group leaders.
2. Provide Guidelines
Just like there are guidelines for leading Small Groups in-person, there are also guidelines for groups online. Whatever your Small Group guidelines are for in-person meetings, be sure to reiterate that those still apply, even in a more relaxed environment online.
3. Prepare Leaders for Online Ministry
There are some kinds of personalities that are more likely to open up behind a keyboard than they are to talk in-person, so be sure to prepare your Small Group leaders for the conversations that may take place. The hope is that people can still find freedom through meeting with a Small Group online, so we want to make sure that leaders are equipped to minister to people when the moment comes.
These are just a few options for ways to prepare your leaders and congregation for online Small Groups; however, we encourage you to put them into practice and give your groups the space needed to find the platform that works best for them.
We truly believe that people will still be able to find freedom and experience life change through virtual community, and while it may take a few tries to get comfortable with it, we cannot lose sight of the end goal. Keeping people connected is crucial during this time, and providing online Small Groups will offer people a way to find positive and encouraging community.