Let's challenge ourselves to "think outside the box" in terms of what it means to connect with one another during this season of COVID-19.
Know your people. Understand their concerns during this time and be sensitive. As you transition to a virtual format, make sure you stay connected with your group members throughout the week.
Technology has given us plenty of options to consider as you transition to an online group. Virtual groups can include a variety of formats, such as group text chats, Facebook groups, audio conference calls, and video chats. Each offers its own level of interaction, and each has its drawbacks. It can seem overwhelming, but the main thing to remember is to tailor your technology to the needs and ease of your group. So, here are a few considerations to keep in mind:
- Pick your digital platform (see below);
- Access sermon-based homework and leader-helps;
- Understand how a normal group will look online;
- Welcome everyone; be patient the first week especially as people are figuring out technology.
- As HOST for the meeting, you are in charge of the time. Since some platforms, such as Zoom's free account, place time limits on your meeting, make a plan on how to use your time in advance.
- Warm up the group by getting people to find and use their 'Mute' and 'Unmute' buttons. Begin with overviewing how your time together is going to look. Lay out the expectations up front and then begin with introductions and/or an icebreaker question, such as, "Tell us your name and something that you're having to get used to during the pandemic." Give everyone time to answer. (You might even give people a time limit.)
- Begin with prayer requests and be ready to pause on someone going through a tough time. Allot enough time for people to experience the CARE.
- Transition to the sermon-based questions. If you are pinched for time, IN ADVANCE, choose 3-5 questions, max. Remember, a good group experience is not a lecture. It's a ping-pong match, with a question served and people responding back and forth.
- If you have a limited time, be sure to give a 2-minute warning to help people mentally prepare to disengage.