We’re excited to welcome Tanner Moushey, creator of StudyChurch to the blog this week!
As the creator of StudyChurch, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to use technology to make small groups more effective. I’ve also seen a lot of ways that so called “technology” can hinder a group and make it difficult for people to engage.
If you spend a lot of time on the internet, then you know how many tools are out there to help us connect with each other on a daily basis. Think about how much time you spend on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or Snapchat or … (well you get the idea).
It’s so easy to get overwhelmed with all of these tools that are available and it is tempting to choose one (or several) to supplement your small group without really thinking through whether or not it will help with the overall goal. And a misplaced tool is less than helpful; it’s a hinderance.
Identify Your Focus
In order to effectively use technology in your small group, you must first identify what you are trying to accomplish. The purpose of every small group should be to disciple, but what is the focus of your small group? Here are a couple of examples:
- You are trying to build new relationships
- You are focused on studying a particular topic
- You have an accountability group
Perhaps you identify with one of these examples. Maybe you have a different focus. Identifying the focus of your small group is the first step to leading it successfully and is a must before you start choosing material, format, or tools to enhance the group.
Here are some questions you can ask to help identify the focus of your small group:
- Why does your small group exist? What would your members be missing if your group went away?
- How will you measure the success of your small group? Strengthened relationships? Deeper knowledge and application of truths? Accountability?
- Why would your members want to attend your small group instead of another? Once you have identified the focus of your small group, take a moment to think about the obstacles that could prevent its success. What are the inherent weaknesses that your group will have to overcome? How can you pre-empt these obstacles to keep your members engaged and your group on track?
Picking Your Tools
Now for the fun part! (At least, I think picking tools is fun.)
Like I mentioned earlier, there really are a ton of great tools and resources out there that can really enhance your small group. Now that you’ve thought a little bit about some of the obstacles facing your small group, let’s look at some of the solutions.
1. Faithlife.com and Bible.Faithlife.com
These are two excellent resources from the guys over at Logos. Faithlife is a great group discussion tool that features prayer requests, instant messaging, and so much more. When paired with the Faithlife Bible this is really a neat way to read the Bible with your small group and share insight as you go.
If you have a tech savvy group that would appreciate sharing thoughts and insights throughout the weak, this might be the perfect tool for you.
Technical Level: Moderate
You may be thinking that you already spend too much time on Facebook, but hear me out. Facebook, and in particular Facebook Groups, can be a really great way for small groups to connect and chat online. If you’ve never created a Facebook group, it’s super easy.
Since most people are on Facebook already, Facebook groups can be a good way to communicate with your group and help them feel connected. Encouraging your group to interact with each other on Facebook can also be a good ice-breaker if your group is not already comfortable with one another.
Technical Level: Easy
This is a brand new tool that my team and I just released. It is perfect for small groups who are creating their own custom material or for churches who create sermon based material. StudyChurch allows users to interact with the material online and then to engage with other users and discuss answers to questions.
Technical Level: Easy
4. RightNow Media
If you are looking for a new way to find and access small group material, then you’ll really like RightNow Media. Think of it like a Netflix or Hulu for Bible study material. The software is licensed to your whole church which means that all of your small group members will have access to the material. You’ll find great resources from Francis Chan, Bill Hybels, Andy Stanley, and more!
Technical Level: Easy