Have social distancing measures disrupted your usual Bible study meetings or small group fellowship?
You aren’t alone.
Many churches have chosen to care for their congregants and neighbors by canceling services and meetings to slow the spread of the coronavirus. As a small group leader, you’re probably wondering how to keep caring for your small group when meeting face-to-face is unwise. Here are some helpful tips to set up a remote Bible study.
Before even setting up a remote Bible study, be sure to check in individually with each of your group members. The disruptions caused by the coronavirus have affected nearly every facet of life, so there’s a good chance some of your group members may be struggling financially or with their physical or mental health.
At the very least, you’ll be able to provide encouragement by praying with and for them, but your church leaders may also have additional resources available for times like these. Other group members with extra time or resources may be able to offer help to members who are struggling, and you’ll be able to coordinate these efforts once you touch base with everyone individually.
In between remote Bible study meetings, keep reaching out periodically to each of your group members to touch base—this is a lonely and uncertain time for many. The good news is that you and your group can be a source of truth and encouragement for each other now more than ever.
Find the Right Virtual Meeting Method
There are several options for virtual meetings, depending on the technology your group members have access to. When you reach out individually to your members, find out which method would work best for them, so you can plan accordingly.
For those without access to or ability to use a computer, a conference call via phone may be the easiest option for a remote Bible study.
A group video call via computer or phone will be the ideal option for many groups since it will allow members to see one another and feel more present with each other. These virtual meeting services all offer free versions:
Zoom | The free version of Zoom can be downloaded easily and offers group calls lasting up to 40 minutes.
Skype | Similarly, the free version of Skype allows large group calls, but with no time limit.
Google Hangouts | Gmail users can use Google calendar services to create a shareable link to a video meeting (even if not everyone invited to the meeting uses Gmail).
If possible, send this meeting information out to your group a few days prior to your remote Bible study, so that everyone has time to download and troubleshoot any necessary programs.
Seek Out the Right Resources
After assessing the current needs and feelings of your group members, you may realize that your topic or method of study needs to change.
Some group members may suddenly have a lot more time on their hands—time that could either be filled with worry or be filled with truth. In this case, your group may benefit from starting a new book that will direct the scripture and topics you discuss.
As a leader, you may feel drawn to a specific book of the Bible to study during this time. Perhaps your group needs specific comfort around issues of grief and loss, so you could consider choosing a book on the subject of lament. As a group, you may be motivated to deepen your prayer life during this season, so a book on how to pray in uncertain times could give helpful guidance.
For a women’s group in need of inspiration, Chasing Vines by Beth Moore (and the accompanying Group Experience) or It’s All Under Control by Jennifer Dukes Lee (and the accompanying Bible Study) may be the perfect fit.
. . . Or Keep it Simple
On the other hand, you may see that your group needs to keep things as simple as possible in the time of coronavirus. For some, the current disruptions have created more busyness than usual, and they simply need to stay in touch with the truth and encouragement of God’s word as they handle day-to-day demands.
Simply soaking in a brief passage scripture together will give strength and encouragement for the days ahead. Consider using a particularly readable translation such as the New Living Translation or The Message.
As you continue to care for your group members by facilitating remote Bible study, you too may feel discouraged or anxious at times. Give yourself continual daily reminders of God’s goodness and provision in all times, perhaps through devotional books like The One Year Book of Hope, He Holds My Hand or God in the Dark. These books will encourage you and provide scripture and ideas to share with your Bible study group as you face life’s challenges together.