The world has changed. And if we thought church and Bibles studies were going back to the way they were before, well, that is highly unlikely now. Even if your Bible study groups begin meeting in person, think about the ministry of adding the digital component from this point forward. When you add in digital options, women can join the Bible study from home, work, or when they are out of town. Your Bible study community or small group can connect with the women who are home with a new baby or sick children, those who are home after a surgery or illness, and others who are traveling for work or vacation.
Including a digital option with your Bible study also opens doors for ministry to those who don’t have a Bible study group or a church home. Think about an elderly aunt, a friend who recently moved, a college student, or a serviceman or servicewoman. You can invite friends and relatives who live outside your city or missionaries and others who live around the world.
Regardless of where you meet, here are some ideas and tips for adding digital options to your group Bible study.
- Go all digital with video Bible study. With this option, everyone is in a similar situation with likely limited experience meeting this way. A tip is to allow plenty of time for all to get on the video and say hello. You want to make sure you welcome people and help women know they are seen and heard. Just like meeting in a class, allow time for the group to interact before you get started.
At the designated time, ask women to mute their microphones. You can encourage women to share thoughts, questions, and prayer requests in the chat feature to help them not talk on top of one another so the leader can teach without background noise or interruption. During the teaching, you can use video or instruction as needed from the leader.
After the leader shares, the group can unmute to share, and the leader can put them in a breakout room (with Zoom), or you can discuss via the chat feature. There are different pieces of technology that you can use. Most people know how to add someone by FaceTime on their phone or iPad. Here are some pros and cons of using video calls with Zoom or Google Hangouts. Whatever your group chooses to do, know that it can be done! Churches, Bible study groups, corporations, and businesses have been meeting by video conferences as needed. It is different, but it still provides a great way to connect and build community.
- Create a combined digital and in-person Bible study. This model can really expand your reach for ministry. The group that meets in person will need to provide an environment that feels safe and comfortable for those who gather. Additionally, the group will need to use a laptop or connect to a TV for those joining digitally.
The leader will need to think about sharing with the group and those on camera. Just think of it as teaching directly to the camera in front of a live studio audience! In this situation, for discussion, some of the live group will need to interact or monitor those on video. It requires a little different thinking but can be an incredible opportunity having those at home, out of town, or around the globe join the group. Again, setting up Zoom or Google Hangouts in advance will be helpful for those joining digitally or who live in different time zones.
- Gather for an in-person Bible study. There will still be groups that meet in person, but there will also be people who do not feel comfortable with this option any longer depending upon global health reports. (Again, consider adding the combination of in-person and digital gathering.)
One thing to plan on when hosting an in-person Bible study group is to meet outside when the weather allows. Use someone’s backyard, a local park, or the church parking lot to tailgate and gather for Bible study. Individuals can bring a soccer or lawn chair, blanket, and a snack. Remember that not everyone will feel as comfortable in close proximity or sharing food. Many women may still choose to wear masks. For any in-person gatherings like this, help women to feel welcome regardless of their choices to distance or wear a mask. Caution and care need to be taken to keep all in the group safe and healthy.
This fall will be different for all Bible study groups and churches. Even those who are meeting physically in the same location will have precautions in place for the safety and health of their members and guests. If people didn’t realize it before 2020, we all know that we now live in a digital age. There is no turning back without disengaging.
The best thing we can do as women is lean into the changes and how God is using them for good for His kingdom. As we embrace the digital meetings and continue to study the Word of God together, we will reap the benefits of being women of the Word. God remains the same when everything around us changes. And He is the One who holds all things together. (See Colossians 1:15-20.) Trust that truth today.
What other tips do you have to help women as we all continue to embrace the digital options for Bible study and small groups?
Michelle Hicks is the managing editor for Journey devotional magazine with Lifeway Women. Michelle served as a freelance writer, campus minister, and corporate chaplain before coming to Lifeway. She is a graduate of the University of North Texas and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Michelle has a deep hunger for God’s Word and wants others to discover the abundant life they can have with Jesus as their Lord and Savior.