It’s amazing how quickly we learn to adjust as circumstances swiftly change around us. The things we thought would be a hurdle for later (i.e., moving your church, Bible studies, and small groups online) are now a must-do. I am beyond grateful that technology helps us continue supporting our communities, even if it looks different than it used to.
One simple—and free—way to bring your small group together is through groups on Faithlife. Whether you’re tech-savvy or tech sad, you can easily use faithlife.com to manage your group, foster community, and run an online Bible study.
Here’s how to use Faithlife for your small group or Bible study—and four tips for making your online group interesting.
Tip: If you already have a Faithlife group, feel free to skip ahead and learn four tips for making your online group interesting.
How to create a free online small group
Step 1: Get started right here. Click Sign In or Register, then create your free Faithlife account on the page that shows next. Super simple: just requires your name, email address, and a password.
Step 2: Create your small group. You’ll see the Groups dropdown and a plus sign on the left side of the screen. Click the plus sign to create a new group, then choose Small Group from the list. Follow the prompts for your group name and location. Learn how.
Step 3: Adjust your group’s privacy settings. Faithlife lets you control your group’s privacy settings. In your group, click the three dots at the top right, next to the invite button, then click Settings. From there, you can make your group Public (anyone can find and follow the group), Private (anyone can find and ask to join the group), or Secret (only people you invite can find the group).
Step 4: Create your first post. You can write a short welcome and intro to the group, then pin it to the top. That way, when you invite your small group to join you on Faithlife, the first thing they’ll see is your pinned post.
Step 5: Add pictures or logos to your icon and header section. Click the photo icon in the top right of each section to add an image. (Pro tip: if you don’t have images you want to upload, you can use a free image from Faithlife stock or Unsplash. Just click the photo icon in the top left.)
Step 6: Invite your group members. At the top right of your group, you’ll see a blue button that says Invite. Click it—and then either add the email addresses of your Bible study or small group members, or click Add contacts to upload a .csv or .xls with your group members’ email addresses. Learn how.
Side note: many churches create small groups as subgroups of their church group. That’s just an administrative way to say that a) church groups on Faithlife are an excellent tool to keep churches connected all week long, and b) you can create a church group and associate your small group with the church.
I created my group—now what? 4 tips you can use today.
Now that your group is set up, faithlife.com will be the place for your online Bible study or small group to keep the conversation going. Just a few things you can do in your online group:
- Share Bible verses or quotes from a book (just a few taps if you’re using the Logos app)
- Hold private group video chats
- Discuss the sermon or your small group curriculum
- Share prayer requests
- Post pictures (family worship selfies from your living room are always entertaining)
- Read the Bible together
- Crowdsource ideas to keep your kids busy
- And more
Your group is different from a text or email thread because you can do all the above in one place, on both mobile and desktop.
That said, we have four tips you can use right away to make your online Bible study or small group an interesting place to be.
One note: it starts with you, the group leader. You’ll want to model the kind of engagement you want to see. If you want people to post prayer requests, you should post prayer requests. If you want to share pictures or do a Bible reading plan together, you need to lead the way. When it comes to trying something new, being the leader means going first instead of waiting for others to share.
Tip #1: Ask for prayer requests
One of the best ways to support one another during uncertain times such as these is prayer. Although that seems obvious, let’s not forget that prayer is a powerful tool that we can do anywhere, anytime. If you are worried about how COVID-19 will impact your small group or those who are prone to anxiety, then have that be the starting point for prayer. Your online small group can be a safe space for group members to share what’s on their hearts and minds.
Tip #2: Upload or link your church’s sermons and notes
If your church posts its sermon online, you can link to it in your small group. Or better yet, if your church uses Faithlife to record and stream sermons, you can encourage your group to watch or listen to it from your church’s group. Then you can discuss the sermon in your small group.
Tip #3: Share Bible verses, quotes, or something you’re learning
The coronavirus might be at the forefront of our minds right now, but that doesn’t mean your group has to be consumed by it. What can you do together to focus on God? For one thing, you can keep going with your small group study. Post Bible passages, discussion questions, and videos in the group so people can follow along. What are you learning personally? Share that with the group. Are there verses that particularly comfort you right now? Share those too!
Tip #4: Make it fun!
It’s not the same as meeting in person, chatting and catching up over snacks, you could play a quick game at the beginning or ask a fun ice-breaker question. You can even take a virtual walk—each person can share photos of their families or interesting things they see on their route (which, let’s be honest, could be the same thing!).
Just because many of us can’t gather at our churches this weekend doesn’t mean we can’t still have good conversations. We hope these tips can help you create a life-giving, encouraging corner of the internet for your small groups.