Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Bible Study Groups: Capitalize on the Digital World

When you think about the digital world in which we live, does it challenge your creativity, competency, or both? For many church staff members who carry the responsibility of discipleship or education, I would venture to say it challenges us on both sides. But, if we are responsible for Bible study groups, we need to learn how to capitalize on the digital world.

Here are a few ways you can use digital options to enhance your Bible study experience for leaders and group members:

  • Communicate with Leaders via email weekly. It is difficult to gather leaders for a meeting weekly, but you can use email as a supplemental communication tool. You can share ideas for teaching, especially if you are using a base curriculum across all adult groups. You can provide information about upcoming events and even some basic training. Keep your emails short, and use links to other sites when appropriate. If you have a lot of Bible study groups, it would be difficult to personalize emails every week, but consider sending a personal email to each leader periodically. Here is a sample:
  • Use a blog-site or web-page to push out weekly teaching helps. I personally use the blog approach. Setting up a blog is relatively easy, especially if you are a gmail user. Google provides users the opportunity to use Blogger to set up a simple site that can be used as a hub for communication. I use our site to communicate weekly teaching helps.  I also include links to study tools, training, organizational and devotional content. Google is not the only place you can go to build a site; ask around, or get a young person to help you set up a simple site that allows you to communicate weekly to your leaders. If you use this approach, make sure you communicate regularly and keep all information updated. Here are two examples of approaches churches are using:
Northside Baptist Church, Murfreesboro, Tennessee. 
(This is my site for our group leaders.)

First Baptist Church, Midland, Texas

Some churches who use Explore the Bible curriculum are providing links to 
weekly teaching helps that are provided by the 412 Network
You may either add a link inside the body of your website or send your teachers the link: 
  • Provide online training opportunities. While I believe that you can't live on online training alone, there is still a place for the opportunities online training provides. Your curriculum provider may also provide specific training as well. Here is a chart of possible sites you may use. Again, this is not an exhaustive list. 

Organization
Link
Description
Rightnow Media
Subscription based service that is video driven. You may customize the content and upload your own videos.
Arkeo

Subscription based service that provides a platform for you to create your own training. It is designed to be used in a blended online learning environment.
Ministry Grid
Subscription based service delivering primarily a video driven experience. Uploading content is also available.
Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma

It is free but does require a login and password. The primary focus is Sunday School leader training. It also provides teaching helps for the Explore the Bible Curriculum from LifeWay.
Florida Baptist Convention

Free training videos on a variety of leadership topics.
e-quip.net: An Online Learning Community
Provided by the Canadian National Baptist Convention. Video driven and free. Downloadable MP3 versions of most training available.
Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions Video Training
Video driven and free. Training available on a variety of leadership topics.
Billy Graham Evangelism Training
Fee based training on issues related to sharing your faith.
  • Utilize social media options. Set up a Facebook page for your leaders. Use the page to communicate with leaders. Set up a Facebook page for your groups ministry or church, and communicate about Bible study topics and group events.
  • Use digital resources provided by your curriculum provider. Many curriculum today have digital and app components available. Know your options and determine how to use them. I provided a chart in a previous blog post, Bible Study Curriculum: Map out a Direction, that lists curriculum providers that provide digital options.
  • Research and take advantage of all the options of your membership database provider. We use ACS, and they have an app which provides groups with contact information and other data which helps leaders provide quicker, more effective ministry. Learn your system and teach your teachers how to use the system. If you don't know they exist and what they can do, you will never be able to fully take advantage of something your church might already own. 
I have found that ignorance of using digital options is not bliss.  Don't let your lack of knowledge prevent you from using tools that enhance your opportunities to influence your leaders. If you aren't tech savvy, learn it or get someone to learn it so they can help you. We live in an age where digital options can maximize our effectiveness. What I have observed from many church staff is that they don't take the time to learn how to use what everyone else in their congregation is already using. Capatilize on digital options. Become more tech savvy so you can continue to have effective conversations with your leaders and group members.

I know there are countless other providers I am not aware of. Why not share your ideas in our comments section?