How to Get Church Members to Join Your Online Community

joining a Faithlife Group

So you want to facilitate a thriving online community for your church. You understand the value of having a private place to ask big questions as a church or for small groups to share curriculum. You know your church wants to talk about the Bible more and share what they’re learning with the rest of the congregation.

Related post: Take Your Church Beyond Handshakes and Hellos

Sometimes getting your congregation to do anything new might feel like crying out in the wilderness. But it doesn’t have to. With the right perspective, and the right strategy, you can be the catalyst that helps propel your church into a vibrant online community they’ll keep coming back to—because it’s your church, online.

Here are four ways to grow your church’s Faithlife Group:

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Follow Elyse Fitzpatrick’s Faithlife Group

Elyse Fitzpatrick

Elyse Fitzpatrick has been counseling women since 1989. She’s a retreat and conference speaker and the head of Women Helping Women Ministries. She has a certificate in biblical counseling from CCEEF in San Diego and an MA in biblical counseling from Trinity Theological Seminary.
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Do You Use Discussion Questions in Christian Books?

Discussion questions in Christian books
If you read Christian books, it’s not uncommon to find yourself looking at a list of questions at the end of each chapter. These questions encourage you to interact with the material on a personal level, and help you process what you’re learning. Sometimes they’re designed for groups. Sometimes they’re just for you.

What I want to know is, “Do people use them?”

God’s Favorite Place on Earth
God’s Favorite Place on Earth by Frank Viola makes great use of discussion questions.

Recently I’ve been reading When Helping Hurts, which utilizes questions like these at both the beginning and the end of each chapter. At the start of each chapter, these questions are intended to gauge your current understanding of the subject at hand (in this case, poverty alleviation). They also help you see how your current perceptions stack up against what you’re learning in the text. At the end of the chapter, follow-up questions ask you to reflect on your original thoughts and see how new insights may have changed your response. These questions help highlight specific areas that you’re growing.

While I understand the value of these questions, I never use them.

I’ve always seen these questions as “conversation starters” for reading groups. They’re touch points for creating a larger dialogue about the subject. That may not be accurate, but when I’m reading a book by myself, that perception makes it easier to skim over these questions without feeling like I’m missing something.

To find out if this was just me, I headed to and posed the question to almost 400 Faithlife employees.

Studies in Faithful Living Patriarchs Collection: Complete Church Curriculum
Looking for small group material? Check out Studies in Faithful Living Patriarchs Collection.

Fred Sprinkle from design said he never reads discussion questions. He says, “Maybe it’s because I already feel like I’m reading enough. Or, perhaps I shy away from anything that reminds me of a school test or assignment. I might feel different if I was trying to lead a book group though.”

Similarly, Matt Miller says, “The ones I’ve encountered are tailored more as devices for recall of the content rather than instruments to encourage critical thinking.”

Not everyone was opposed to discussion questions though. There were just as many people in support of them.

“I think discussion questions are always helpful because they can help you apply the material or draw your own conclusions based on the text,” says Abby Salinger from Lexham Press.

For those who reflect on what they read through writing in a journal, discussion questions are useful writing prompts.

“I’m reading Shauna Niequist’s new devotional, Savor, and I’m finding the short discussion questions to be great prompts for journal writing, reflection, and prayer,” says Erin Land from Vyrso. “Discussion questions are great in devotionals, but I don’t think I’ve used them much elsewhere in Christian books.”

DIY Bible Study
DIY Bible Study is a highly interactive Christian resource—it includes questions, videos, devotionals, and more.

When what you’re reading is designed to be a brief mediation or a segue into personal reflection and prayer, questions help you make a smooth transition from the author’s thoughts to your own. If each chapter is only a piece of the overall message though, or you read several chapters in a row, questions before and after each chapter can feel like an overwhelming interruption to your study.

The common thread I noticed through this conversation about discussion questions was that people like questions that make them think. That’s why we read—to expand our perspective and think about the material in new ways. Questions that ask you to recall information or that “test” your understanding of the subject matter aren’t as valuable when you aren’t preparing for an exam or an essay.

Justin Marr from Lexham Press put it this way: “I find them helpful as long as they’re open ended. Questions that demand specific answers aren’t as conducive for introspection and application.”

So what do you think?

Tell us why you use discussion questions (or why you don’t) in the comments!

Shortcuts for Every Faithmoji in Faithlife Groups: A–Z

Recently, we released the Faithlife Keyboard: a unique new way to share your faith in text messages. What you might not have known is that one component of the Faithlife Keyboard has actually already made its way to Faithlife Groups.

You can now add Faithmojis to your Faithlife Groups conversations.

To add a Faithmoji to your post, reply, or message, type colon and a letter, and every Faithmoji that starts with that letter will appear in a drop down menu. If you know the name of your favorite Faithmoji, type “:name:” to find it.

For example, say you want to spice up your conversation—type :taco: to add this fun little emoji:


Here are the shortcuts for every Faithmoji from A–Z:

























Start adding faithmojis to your conversations. Create a free Faithlife account and join some groups or start your own.

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Want to add these emojis to your text messages? When you download the Faithlife Keyboard you’ll get all these emojis, plus praise badges and a fully-searchable database of Bible verse art—so you can find the right verse for every conversation. Get it for your iOS device today!

Setting Up Faithlife Groups for Your Church

longview christian churchDaniel Ostendorff is an assistant professor of history and political science at LeTourneau University. He’s also a member of Longview Christian Church and a user of Faithlife Groups.

Recently, Daniel shared how he uses Faithlife Groups in Faithlife Beta. The Faithlife Beta group let’s you see what’s coming up next for Faithlife Groups and interact directly with the people who built it.

Here’s how Daniel set up Faithlife Groups for Longview Christian Church:

In the main group, Daniel invites others to share church-wide prayer requests, sermon outlines for Sunday, the calendar for weekly events and special occasions, and small group discussion questions for those who miss group meetings.

Daniel also created two subgroups, nested within his church’s main group. One of these is for small group leaders. It’s a secret group (so only members can see it) for small group leaders to share discussion guides and resources, and ask questions or share tips.

The other subgroup is for the small group Daniel co-leads with his wife. The small group is through their church, so naturally, the Faithlife Group is connected to their church’s group as well. In the group, Daniel and his wife share discussion questions, Community Notes from their readings, photos, prayer lists, and newsletters.

After sharing how he’s been using Faithlife Groups, Daniel also gave us his “wishlist” of ways we could improve the experience for him. One of his requests was actually addressed in our most recent update—you can now edit prayer lists online! Before, this advanced feature was only possible in Logos Bible Software. Daniel also hoped to see improved document organization (coming soon!), and better app integration with the calendar, documents, discussions, and other features (now available in the latest version of the Faithlife Groups app—iOS and Android).

The Faithlife Beta group is open to anyone, and all feedback is welcome—we’re building a tool for you and your church, so our developers would love to hear what’s working for your church, and what could be better.

Create your free account and join Faithlife Beta today!

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Faithlife Groups has a brand-new look. Check it out!

How to Change Your Notification Settings

When you create a new Faithlife account and join a group, by default you’ll receive an email when someone posts to the group, sends you a message, starts a new discussion, and more. You can see a complete list of notifications when you edit your profile and go to the notifications tab.

(“Posting & Messages” is one category of notifications. Be sure to check each category.)

Next to each type of notification you’ll see “Edit per group settings.” This lets you choose which groups you’ll receive emails about, and which groups you’ll only see in the app and online.

Click the drop down arrows on the left to see all types of notifications, or use the check boxes on the right to change settings for everything at once.


Say, for example, you’re in a group led by your pastor, and he posts devotional thoughts once a week. You might want to receive email notifications when your pastor shares something new. Your small group, however, posts multiple times per day, so email notifications might not be as urgent.

There’s also another option:


If you still want to know everything that’s going on, you can adjust the frequency that you receive email notifications. These settings apply after you indicate what you would like to receive email notifications for. If you change all your notification settings to “notification,” then this option won’t matter. If, however, you have a particularly active small group or ministry team and you want to receive email updates about what’s going on without filling your inbox, you can set this to daily or weekly digest to stay in the loop.

Create your Faithlife account today, or tell your friends and family about email notifications, so they can follow along with your Faithlife Groups.

Why Your Worship Team Should Use Faithlife Groups

worshipYour church’s weekend services have a lot of moving parts. You need notes for the sermons, lyrics for every song, greetings, transitions, and more. You can only reach part of your team with email, and the rest have to be updated via social media. On top of all this, you have meetings, practices, and more.

Make Sundays smooth—collaborate online.

Faithlife Groups make coordination easy. That’s why thousands of churches use Faithlife Groups every week to pull off their weekend services.

When you have the worship set for the weekend, share it right to your group so your team can access it. You can adjust the settings of your group so that only the admin can share documents (Faithlife Groups support 15 different document types), or you can give these privileges to all members and turn your group into the ultimate collaboration tool.

Are multiple people working on your presentation slides? Share the PowerPoint or Proclaim presentation to your Faithlife Group so everyone can collaborate.

Add your practice sessions, run-throughs, or other regular meetings to the calendar to remind people when things are going on.

Post to your group and send an email—simultaneously.

Some people struggle to learn new things. It’s a battle just to get them to check their email, so you could send them documents and rope them in with everyone else when there was something to share. When you post to your Faithlife Group, it sends an email to everyone in your group with the content of the post and a link back to your group—so members can read what they need to from their email, or they can jump into the conversation. If you only want to receive emails about specific types of notifications (or you want to work within the group without emails), just change your account settings.

Your worship team could range from teens to senior citizens. Faithlife Groups let you use one source to keep everyone in the loop. You can access your group from the web, see what’s going on from email, or join in from your mobile device—so everyone stays on the same page.

Share insights with your team—instantly.

Faithlife Groups give you more ways to interact around the Word. If your worship team wants to read a devotional together or follow a Bible reading plan, you can share that reading plan directly to your group. Everyone can connect to the plan and receive reminders to read and follow along.

Community Notes let your group share insights and highlight passages for the whole group to see.

You can also share a prayer list to remind each other how to pray for one another. Indicate when a prayer request has been answered or add items to the list at any time.

When it comes to connecting your team, Faithlife Groups is a free way to bring everyone together—even when you’re apart.

Download the free Faithlife App (for iOS or Android devices) and start a group for your worship team today.

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Join thousands of other churches using Faithlife Groups alongside Proclaim Church Presentation Software. Try Proclaim for free today.

Foster Healthy Online Communication in Your Family

A friend recently learned that a 10 year old girl that she’d been working with was “dating” a 17 year old boy who she’d met in a seemingly innocent online game. The girl’s grandma was shocked and embarrassed—she had assumed the game couldn’t expose her granddaughter to strangers.

Whether we like it or not, kids communicate online all the time. For many kids,  it’s even a preferred method of communication.

For kids, online communication is no more foreign than talking. They’re immersed in technology from the moment they’re born.

Some parents provide baby steps into the freedom of online communication and texting with phones that can only interact with their own, or closely-monitored online activity.

When you teach your kids to avoid strangers, you don’t just open the door and let them go. You remind them frequently. You teach them what to do, who they can trust. When they’re mature enough, you stop going with them everywhere they go.

The internet is no different.

Explore online communication together

Last May, Mark Prim shared why he lets his kids use Faithlife Groups. It was the first app he installed on their electronic devices, and they’ve been using it for years.

Mark says, “Faithlife Groups doesn’t have all the foul language and advertisements. It also doesn’t have the ‘freedom’ that social media outlets have—the parameters of use are much more controllable. I set up and maintain my kids’ accounts. . . . and we are a closed group, so no one else can join unless my wife and I approve them.”

Your family can create reading plans, use Community Notes, and make prayer lists to share what you’re learning and how you can pray for each other—all within the privacy of your own group, which you can prevent others from accessing. (You can make your group so private that other people can’t even see it.)

Add your extended family (or another family from your church) to stay in touch within a controlled, closed environment. The newsletter feature makes it easy to create crisp newsletters you can share to the group or send to peoples’ emails, so it’s easy to provide regular family updates.

Try using a Faithlife Group to supplement your family time. You can share encouragement, remind each other to pray, and explore the Word together. Create goals for your kids to share a note about something they learned or a passage that stood out to them, or encourage them to add to your family prayer list. Start a discussion to get them thinking about biblical concepts, life, or anything you want.

Start a Faithlife Group for your loved ones today, and foster healthy online communication within the privacy of your family.

5 Ways Churches Are Using Faithlife Groups

faithlifegroupsFaithlife Groups have been growing in popularity for a few years now. But if you’re new to the scene, you may find yourself wondering, “How can my church use this?”

There are lots of ways Faithlife Groups work well in small groups, and when your group encompasses your whole church, the value of that group only increases. Some churches use an assortment of features to create fellowship, and others hone in on particular tools available in Faithlife Groups.

Here are a few ways churches around the country are using Faithlife Groups right now:

1. Sharing reading plans

In October, we interviewed Pastor Jose Fernandez Jr. about his group, “Friends of Pastor Joe.” Pastor Joe uses his church’s Faithlife Group to share a reading plan, and he and his wife hop on to share Community Notes about what the group has been reading. The group reading plan provides daily reminders to read the Bible and helps Joe’s congregation keep up by adding the reading from missed days. With a Faithlife Group built around a reading plan, you have an entire community to support and encourage you as you read the Word.

2. Making announcements

Faithlife Groups provide a designated place for your congregation to interact with each other, and with your staff. I chatted with Pastor Rich from Crosspoint Community Church about how they have been using their Faithlife Group. Pastor Rich makes announcements to the church about volunteer activities, upcoming events, and resources the church would like to share with everyone. The calendar feature makes it easy to tell at a glance what events you need to know about. In one instance, someone from the congregation asked about carpooling to an event, and another member quickly responded to give them a ride. The church can also use it to pick up last-minute volunteers when they find themselves short handed. If you’re new to your congregation, it can be difficult to know how to reach out about events, volunteer activities, or things you need help with. But when your church has a Faithlife Group, your entire community can interact within the comfort and privacy of your congregation.

3. Creating prayer lists

Prayer lists are a great way to keep yourself accountable when you have things to pray about. At your church, you probably have a prayer team dedicated to praying for the needs of your church and the individual needs of your members. Whether you’re part of the prayer team or not, a prayer list can help you keep track of what to pray for each day. Once you set up a list for your church, anyone you let into your Faithlife Group can add their prayer needs to your church’s list. You can even create multiple lists for your various ministry teams and church needs. With the privacy of a Faithlife Group, you can share your prayer needs with your whole church without sharing them with the whole world.

4. Sending newsletters

Newsletters are a great tool for mass communication. With a large group like a church or a ministry, it’s not easy to keep everyone in the loop. Not everyone can be at every meeting. Not everyone gets to see the fruit of your ministry. Newsletters provide a great opportunity to show them what your church or ministry is doing and how they can continue to be involved. Faithlife Groups make it easy to design visually compelling newsletters that contain everything you need to get your message across.

5. Discussing sermons

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to chat with a local pastor who is writing his PhD dissertation on Faithlife Groups, which he suggests is the future of church communication. Pastor Bill Koogle shared how Faithlife Groups provides an opportunity to create a more interactive sermon experience—one which he believes can help the youth in his church feel more invested in his teaching. In the past, Bill’s church has sent church-wide texts asking questions and gathering input which he later uses when he writes his sermons. This provided him with a lot of great insight, but it was a fairly one-sided conversation (the text messages were automated because of the size of the congregation).

With a Faithlife Group, your church can have discussions around topics, passages, or anything else your church needs to talk about. The discussions tab in your group serves as your church’s own private message board. The entire conversation is neatly nestled into its own thread, and all your threads remain in the tab. So each week, if you want to create an interactive sermon like Pastor Bill, you can create a conversation around the topic or passage you’re going to preach from, so you can craft relevant sermons that address the greatest struggles within your church.

These are just a few of the ways that churches around the world are using Faithlife Groups right now.

Set one up for your church today.

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Does your church use Faithlife Groups? Tell us about it in the comments!

How to Have a Discussion in a Faithlife Group

Faithlife discussions are a great way to ask big questions in your small group. You can discuss anything you want within the privacy of you Faithlife Group, and the conversation is easier to jump in and out of than email or group messages.

So how do they work?

Start by heading over to the discussions tab in your group:
When you start a discussion in your Faithlife Group, it begins a new thread. You’ll want the topic to be clear so that people know exactly what the discussion is about. Here’s an example from the public group, Faithlife Groups 101.


If your topic isn’t clear or it’s too broad, you might find yourself with multiple “threads” of conversation within a single discussion. A good topic should be specific enough that people can jump right into the conversation and have something relevant to say.

A lot of message boards and forums have an “initial post” that stays stuck at the top of the discussion, even after the conversation has moved past it. While that might help give you more context for how things got started, responding to the first post after there are 20 replies is annoying for everybody. It’s like a conversational speed bump. And it’s another way that you can wind up with multiple conversations happening within a single discussion.

That’s why your discussions tab was designed to operate more like a real conversation. The most recent posts appear at the top, so what you’re reading is more likely to be relevant to the conversation.

So how do you keep track of what people are replying to?

When you click “reply,” you’ll find a nifty little highlighted word below the post you’re replying to: “Quote.” Clicking this will copy the previous post into your response, with a clear indicator of who you are quoting. Then you can add what you want  to say, and the conversation can continue.


You can also quote the same post multiple times, so you can respond to multiple questions separately:


Ready to get started? Create your own group with your friends and family.

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To test out a discussion, join Faithlife Groups 101!