During this COVID-19 crisis, everyone is either making a rush to get online groups going at their church, or already have them in place and are trying to expand or refine them. In my context, I needed to get online groups up and running from scratch, because we have never done online groups. There are several steps I took as I navigated this new aspect of small groups that may help guide you as well.
1. TALK to God
First thing I needed to do was to talk with God and seek His will and plan in this matter. He must be our ultimate source of wisdom and counsel. James 1:5 tells us that “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him”. No situation is new to God. He sees beginning to end and knows how you should respond in this current crisis. He has certainly been involved with many others who have successfully started online groups, so He has some experience with this!
2. TALK to your Leadership
If you are a small group point person, it is important also to talk with your senior leadership about your plan of attack in either starting or expanding your online small groups. He is instrumental in championing this cause, and I am certain he will be on board with keeping the connectivity going. If you are a small group leader, have a chat with your small group pastor and understand his vision with online small groups. God has placed leaders in your life and ministry for your edification and protection, utilize them! Also, Proverbs 11:14 says “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety”. Collaborating and learning from others, especially your leadership, will go a long way towards being successful.
3. TAKE advantage of the good resources available
After talking with God and your leadership, take full advantage of the many resources available to you about online groups that are currently flooding the internet. In addition to the resources your leadership may provide, the Small Group Network provides many many great resources regarding all things small groups or online small groups. Also check their Facebook group & glean from the thousands of ideas, questions & comments regarding all things small groups and how to navigate these times successfully. The threads and blog articles are from a variety of viewpoints and contexts and are from some of the smartest small group point people out there! We are truly “Better Together”, and the SGN team and family has been most generous and insightful in the resources compiled.
4. TRY it out
Lastly, just do something! Don’t find yourself stagnant or overwhelmed by the many resources. Don’t be afraid of failure or that your first online group won’t be perfect! I guarantee your first online group won’t be perfect. Trust me, I’ve experienced it! Just do it! Just start something and adjust as necessary. The goal isn’t trying to be the best (though we should aim for excellence), the goal right now is to keep the connectivity between people in your church during this fluid and uncertain situation in the world. Just start and see where God takes it and how He will use it for His glory!
I am by no means an expert on online small groups, and am learning as I go, but all the groups we currently have are operating virtually now. How did it happen? I talked with God, talked with my leadership, took advantage of SGN resources and fed what was relevant to my leaders, and then just tried it out! Just get started and trust God for the result! SGN is here to help.