Online Bible Study Tips with Video Conference Options
Categories: Remote Ministry, Discipleship
In the country of Slovenia, college students got together after their schools were closed and started an online Bible study. The group started inviting their friends and grew rapidly. Soon, they realized their need for a meeting structure. To keep the momentum growing, they created a step-by-step guide that could work for any online Bible study.
Prep Work—before you have the meeting
- Have a person (aka. host) in charge for setting up the Zoom account and creating a recurring chat. This helps avoid having a different link every time. It also makes it easier for students to share the link.
- Recommend that the host stays the same for every meeting to avoid technical issues, but do have a backup host who knows how to use Zoom in case they can't be there.
- Set up a messenger chat for all the participants, and share the link with the group. Ask the participants not to spam the conversation with memes if the stream gets too full.
- Set up a Google document with a reading schedule, personal and general prayer requests that people can edit, and a place to write in their requests, etc. Share this link with the group as well.
- Set up a separate chat where leaders can communicate during the Bible study if necessary.
- For each evening, decide who will be the:
- Emcee: greets people joining, communicates technical details with people when they join the chat, answers technical and other questions, and, before the start of "breakout rooms," leads in prayer.
- Group Leaders: each leader gets a group of 5 to 10 people. More is not recommended. Group leader moderates the group, leads using the four questions (see below). Anyone can do this. The idea is to use this to develop new leaders in facilitating, which helps them to start their own group in the future. It’s also helpful to have an experienced member of the team in these groups with new leaders.
- Start the ZOOM meeting around 10 minutes before the official start time. This way, people get to see who is there, get to know each other a bit, etc. It’s a good hang-out time.
- The Emcee is in charge of welcoming people into the "main room". The emcee asks people to turn off their mics when they are not speaking to avoid any noise. He/she gives a few details on how the study will look.
- The host will split people into groups. Each group leader gets a staff member with them to help if necessary. If there are new people, the host puts them in a group with someone they know, at least for the first time(use messenger to see who was added from previous attendees, or find out from other staff members).
- Groups don't need to stay the same. Mix them up whenever you meet.
- The host splits people into "breakout rooms." They click "join" and the study begins.
- Have people introduce themselves, where they are from, what church they go to, and have them answer a fun question (like "what's your favorite ice cream flavor or favorite book of the Bible?"...)—break the ice!
- Have people share about their week. What are their "happies and crappies"—let people know you care! It's ok if they are shy and don't want to share. No pressure. Ask them how they've seen God work today?
- Add a question about their local church to emphasize that this is not replacing their local church and that they should be outwardly looking and caring for the local church (if they are part of one).
- Start planting seeds and encourage them to have eyes to see with which friends they could start this kind of Bible study during quarantine, and also afterward.
- The group Leader prays before reading scripture.
- Someone reads the passage.
4 Questions to Ask
- What stood out to you or was memorable?
- What was challenging, hard to understand, accept or believe?
- What are people like in this passage? What are they called to be like?
- What is God like in this passage? What is God the Father like? The Son, Jesus Christ? The Holy Spirit?
- After people have shared, give them 5 minutes in silence to pray and ask the Lord how to apply this to their lives. Then, ask them with whom they can share this.
- Let them know what time to get back! For example: it's 21:05, be back at 21:10.
- Have them turn off their mics and videos as they pray, but THEY SHOULDN'T EXIT THE BREAKOUT ROOM! It takes a while to get them back in.
- After personal prayer time, they can share. Encourage them to share! It builds up others as well.
- The group closes in prayer. Suggestion: group leaders can close after 20 seconds of awkward silence.
- Group leaders invite people to invite their friends to the study group. They can add them to Messenger chat, where all the links are available.
- Ask them if anyone is interested in being a group leader for the next meeting. Share the questions and guidelines with them afterward.
- After that, people can return and hang out in the "main room" if they want.
- Have a debrief meeting in the mornings after the online Bible study (include the host, emcee, and staff members). Talk about how to improve your meetings technically, how to reach more people, how to split groups better, what you want the DNA of the group to be, what you want to multiply, etc.
- Pray for your group at the staff meetings, lifting them up to the Lord. The enemy wants to destroy unity and you need to fight against that.
- Remind everyone that since they may be from different communities, it is important to let them know your group is NOT trying to replace the local church. You all are there to study the Lord's Word together, bring light to their country, and be united as brothers and sisters in Christ.
- Give all the glory to the Lord! It is the work our Lord began and we are only joining him, responding to his invitation to build His Kingdom. These Bible studies are his gift and we are called to be "good stewards"! Put to death any pride that may come with leading these groups.
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