“The days of people leaving home to attend church have been a thing of the past since lockdown started in March.”
As COVID-19 continues to spread lockdown measures in varying intensities are instituted around the world, it is safe to say that the coronavirus brought an end to the church as we know it.
If you have not yet moved your services online, we have some tools to help you meet with your congregation online. As we know, the finances of most people have been hit hard by the economic lockdown, in some cases, readily available means of communication (in this case WhatsApp) can be more helpful.
Taking meetings online
Before even starting the process of introducing online meetings via WhatsApp, it is important to have the leadership team on the same page about the rollout plan as well as the key issue of privacy. Some of the discussions may get deeply personal and it should be a firm rule that what is discussed in the group stays in the group.
It is also worth doing a few practice runs with the leadership team before implementing this with a bigger audience as your congregation’s dynamics may be different.
Once you have agreed on this, you and your team may begin by following the steps below.
Step 1: Create the WhatsApp Group
Ideally you and your leadership team can create groups of 20 people each and reach out to those members. If you are not sure where to start Heartlines has great resources available to help you connect with people.
The important thing to remember is that the focus initially should be on reconnecting with your congregation and getting them used to having meetings online, while also avoiding the trap of over communicating.
Remind members of the rules and after meetings set it that only admins can post in those groups.
Step 2: Set dates and times to “meet” online
Think of this as a normal scheduled gathering, agree on a date and time and share with everyone in the group. As you begin do a roll call and see who is there and who may need to be given a call later on.
It also helps to share any Bible readings and questions ahead of time, this will enable members to read up and think ahead of the session, which can make for livelier discussion and detailed questions.
Step 3: Guide the discussion then close it with prayer
As with any meeting, ensure that you keep to time and encourage all people to be involved.
As you conclude the meeting, be sure to take prayer requests, and here you can encourage people to record voice notes directly in whatsapp and have one person pray to close the meeting.
(This post is based on Pastor Mark Tittley’s presentation on using WhatsApp for small group meetings.)