As the novel coronavirus continues to spread, it’s not only impacting church gatherings across the nation (many are scrambling to get their churches online fast), but some states are shutting down everything except groceries, pharmacies, and take-out restaurants. Many people across the nation are observing social distancing, meaning they’re staying home and avoiding crowds. And yesterday, the CDC recommended banning gatherings over 50 people for 8 weeks.
People will feel disconnected during this time—it’s not just a what-if. But the question is whether they’ll be disconnected from others only or also from God and his Word.
As a church leader (whether you’re a pastor, staff member, or lay leader), your voice carries. Your people are more likely to grow as a disciple of Jesus if you encourage them to use extra time to draw closer to God, each other, and Scripture.
Here are four ways you can minister to your church members by using digital discipleship.
1. Create online small groups and Bible studies.
Consider using Faithlife’s free groups to create online small groups and Bible studies that people can join to fill that time and build church community. You can organize a small group around a Mobile Ed course or use individual videos to supplement the curriculum you’re already using to help them “set their mind on things above, not on earthly things” (Col 3:2).
Faithlife TV has all kinds of great courses that make for excellent online discipleship and small group discussion:
- Michael Goheen’s The Story of the Bible introduces students to the coherent, unifying storyline that runs through the entire Bible.
- Craig Evans’ The Gospel of Matthew in its Jewish Context discusses the original context in which Matthew wrote his Gospel, as well as his purpose for writing.
- The Significance of the Resurrection teaches differing perspectives on resurrection-related texts about Jesus’ sacrifice and the defeat of sin.
- Perspectives on Eschatology offers five views on the millennium and addresses important topics like the tribulation and the millennial reign of Christ.
2. Use screen time as an opportunity for spiritual growth.
We know how people are (they’ll dive headfirst into that Netflix series they haven’t had time to watch). Instead, you can encourage your church to check out all the Christian videos, documentaries, and videos available on Faithlife TV, available with a free 14-day trial, like:
- Fragments of Truth, which explores the transmission and reliability of the biblical text.
- The Fantasy Makers, which examines the spiritual influences of J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, and George MacDonald and the lasting impact their works have on our present-day culture.
- The Bible Project, a series of illustrated videos that explores all the books of the Bible, their themes, and how they are unified and connected.
- Authorized, which considers the challenges facing readers of the King James Bible today and why every English reader can benefit from today’s translations.
Side note: you can give your entire church access to Faithlife TV (and over 7,000 video segments on theological topics) with Faithlife TV Church.
3. Try a Bible reading plan with your small group or entire church.
In just a few clicks, you can set up, share, and connect people to a group Bible reading plan in Logos to help them stay in the Word seven days a week. (To start, you’ll need to create a church group on faithlife.com). You can choose between 70 reading plans—some on biblical themes over a short time and others that will guide people through larger sections of the Bible.
Anyone can join from your church group home page. There they can request daily readings via email and also access reading plans via Faithlife TV apps available for iOS and Android devices. You and your members can also install the Faithlife groups app on mobile devices for on-the-go access to your church group.
4. Build community through Faithlife groups.
You can use your church’s Faithlife group as a place for discipleship and to build community, especially people who have started working from home or were put on leave. There they can request and offer prayer, and everyone in the group will see the request in the main newsfeed (each person can choose how often they want to receive notifications). Group members can also ask for help with groceries or any other needs that arise.
With the Community Notes feature, group members can share insights and questions about what they are learning in their Bible reading and personal study with other members of a Faithlife group. These notes are accessible on your group’s faithlife.com feed, at bible.faithlife.com in Faithlife’s mobile apps (Faithlife, Logos, etc.), and within their local Logos installation. Group members can respond to comments and engage in conversations just like they would in a small group setting.