Online Lifegroups

by Tim Isbell, 3/21/2020

In-person meetings are more difficult now because of hectic schedules and long commute times. Adding today's social-distancing requirements triggered me to increase my video conferencing capability. After some research, I decided to use the Zoom platform, which is especially well suited for meetings, seminars, and webinars. And, most people are familiar with this platform.  

As a first step, I started a Lifegroup Online based out of our local church. I am about ready to open it up to more participants. 

Lifegroup Online

Click on Lifegroup Online - overview 2.0 to understand our framework. I make Session Notes from every meeting available to participants and to anyone who might want to use them to lead their own Bible study group. The Session Notes include digests that make the week's four scriptures accessible to ordinary people, so they can dwell in the scripture set through the week. We believe that the Holy Spirit will use such times of reflection to guide and grow us in our relationships with God.

I also publish Tim's Lectionary Digest, which is an accumulation of just the digest portion of every week's Session Notes. This document contains links to the Session Notes for each week.

A midweek online lifegroup serves multiple needs. It fits children's workers who miss the adult parts of weekend worship and Sunday School. It serves parishioners who can’t get to the usual weekend services consistently. It accommodates senior adults who are uncomfortable driving at night and shut-ins with access to the internet. For people with contagious illnesses, or needing to social-distance for health reasons, a midweek lifegroup is the only option. Zoom also functions passively through a simple browser for people who want to view the meeting but not participate. And people can even connect through an ordinary telephone.

Start times can range from 7 to 9:15pm. You can target for after dinner, or for after parents put the kids to bed. Of course, this concept works at any time or day of the week.

The lifegroup concept works at a small attendee size of 3-4 people and scales almost without limit. If the meeting grows too large, we can use Zoom’s breakout-group function to right-size multiple subgroups for part of the agenda. Over time, some participants are sure to decide to start new lifegroups, which is an even more powerful scaling strategy.


Coming up with questions for small group Bible studies

To lead a lifegroup every week, it helps to have some sources for good questions. Here are my two favorites:
    • Serendipity Bible. It is a full NIV Bible with a sidebar full of questions on every passage I have ever looked for. In every case, there are some entry or starter level questions, some of an unpacking type, and some application questions. We take a look at this source almost every week for question ideas. It also offers some study material, but not at the level of a digest. 
    • The Episcopal Church Bible Study. If your framework is based around the Revised Common Lectionary, this site offers digests and questions for the scriptures for Christian calendar. It covers the current year, and two or three previous cycles. In general, I love their organizational framework. I occasionally read their scripture digests, but writing my own digests is a spiritual formation practice I value highly. And I occasionally look through their questions and sometimes borrow or adapt one. 


Blessings,

Tim

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