Online Groups – Basic Instructions

Online Best Practices:

  • We recommend using the ​Zoom online video platform​. In many churches, they are asking people to pay for the monthly cost out of their own pocket (it’s very affordable for the basic plan), and if necessary, reimburse people who might be more needy.
    • Zoom has a huge library of tutorials you can point people to.
    • You can also figure out how to use it yourself and then get your coaches together and do a training (make sure to record it and make it available afterwards for the future).
    • Participants do not need to download Zoom in order for the link to open the online video platform. Zoom will ask if you’d like to download it, but you don’t need to in order to participate.
  • People talking over each other can happen from time to time. Try having people raise their andand call on them, or call on each person by name. This takes some getting used to both for the facilitator, and for the participants. Acknowledging this up front makes it a lot easier!
  • As you facilitate the group, the leader will need to be more directive in their leadership style in online groups. When you train your groups leaders, you’ll want to make sure they know this, train for this, and have them share with others they will be using this kind of leadership technique for facilitating the groups.

View Downloadable Zoom Video Platform Instructions

Outline for Leading Online Groups

Here is a simple structure that is really easy to use for your group times and one we’d highly recommend you go with. It takes very little preparation and it’s easy to multiply, which will be really important as you start more groups. All you really need to do is select a passage of scripture that you think will be particularly meaningful for your group. ​(We’d recommend a passage that is about 7-10 verses long.)

  • Step 1: Quick Check-in: How is everyone doing in general?
    • You can have everyone share or create a certain amount of time for people to share.
    • When it’s appropriate, pause and ask someone to pray for a certain thing if someone has shared and it makes sense.
  • Step 2: Bible Study & Discussion using the Discovery Bible Study Method:
    • Have someone read the passage: What does the passage say about God? (discuss)
    • Have someone else read the passage again: What does the passage say about people? (discuss)
    • Have someone else read the passage again: What Good News is there in the passage? (discuss)
    • Have someone else read the passage again: What is the passage saying to me? (discuss)
  • Step 3: Coronavirus engagement:
    (Remember that the virus will cause people to get sick, but many people might be struggling financially or unsure how they will make childcare or other aspects of their life work. We want to engage with all of this.)
    • Thinking through our ​Circles of Influence:
      • How are the seniors or other vulnerable people in our group doing? How can we/you serve them?
      • How are the seniors or other vulnerable people on each of our individual city blocks, streets or apartment floors doing? How can we/you serve them?
      • How are the seniors or other vulnerable people you’re relationally connected todoing? How can we/you serve them?
    • Are there any immediate wider initiatives in our neighborhood or city happening that we need to be aware of?
  • Step 4: Time of Prayer

Coaching: Use UP, IN & OUT as your grid

Even in times of crisis, we want to think and pattern our life after the life of Jesus. This sounds like a small thing, but thinking through the structure of UP, IN and OUT and reminding people of this is hugely helpful for bringing some clarity and sanity to what can feel like chaos. As you are leading your group and in other areas of your life, ask these questions of yourself and encourage others to do so as well:

  • UP: How does God want to care for me today?
  • IN: How can I care for my spiritual family today?
  • OUT: How does God want me to live out the Gospel today?