By now, most of the early adopters have jumped on board and begun to host their group ministries through a variety of options, including Zoom, Google Hangouts, and Facebook. However, for those who are in the “technologically challenged” category, such a prospect seems intimidating in an already stress-filled time.
So, are there options for the non-techie? Of course! Here are some ideas that might be helpful, grouped according to the level of a person’s tech abilities:
- Low-tech. This is those who find themselves in the “I don’t have a clue” category when it comes to technology. Look, people learn what people learn, and there are a variety of reasons why someone has embraced—or not embraced—technology. The key focus for this category of a group leader is to do one-on-one discipleship and member care. Pastors should embrace this group because they probably are already connecting with each other. If not, a pastor can help coach their group leaders through a variety of low-tech options. Here are a couple of obvious ones:
- Make phone calls. Almost everyone has a phone and deeply desires to interact with a human. A group leader or a designee can spend a little bit of time with group members on the phone discussing the group lesson for the week, sharing prayer requests, and checking on needs.
- U.S. Mail. The post office is still efficiently delivering mail, sending cards, notes, study guides, and even verses of Scripture that encourage the heart are all great ways to remain connected with group members.
- Some-tech. This is the “I have some clue” category of group leader regarding technology. This group leader might be on Facebook, can use email, and has used text messaging to communicate. The key focus for this category of a group leader is to do few-on-few discipleship and member care through care groups, online meetings, and mass messaging. A leader like this would do well by using the tools already mentioned plus these possibilities:
- Emailing members. Send a word of encouragement, followed by the main points of the upcoming session along with application-oriented questions for the reader to consider from the Personal Study Guide or Daily Discipleship Guide.
- Group texts. Send text messages to study a particular passage to focus on, pray for needs, or even a reminder message for an upcoming online group meeting.
- Facebook Live. Although this is mainly a one-way conversation with some chat features, Facebook Live might be a useful tool for the person with some technological skills.
- Zoom. Intimidated by the prospect of Zoom? There’s lots of training available, including some on Ministry Grid. However, one option is to recruit someone who is familiar with Zoom to host the meeting and handle the tech side of things, freeing up the group leader to teach the session.
- Digital guides. While print guides are an option, the Spring quarter Personal Study Guide and the Daily Discipleship Guide are both available in digital, right now, free of charge. Church staff just need to go to curriculum.lifeway.com to get started.
- High-tech. This is the group leader who is in the “I got this” category. The key focus for this group leader is to disciple and care for the group members online in a way that would, as much as possible, emulate what might take place in in-person. They are probably already meeting with their groups online, but if not, Chris Surratt has written a very helpful post about how groups can meet in a virtual environment. The Explore the Bible audio leader training site also had a special discussion on this very topic. Tools such as Zoom, mass text alerts, and mass email tools are also great helps for the group leader who easily adapts to new technology.
However, here’s the greatest point: everyone can minister in this present time. Technology is great, but for those who just don’t do it well, options still abound. A pastor or staff member can help group leaders successfully minister in love to their group members, regardless of that leader’s tech skills. All it takes is a love for people, a willingness to help, and a flexibility to minister in any context.
Fran Trascritti is the Director of Church Partnerships as well as the Brand Manager for LifeWay’s Explore the Bible.