Online Life Groups

Are you doing online ministry? If so, what is your goal of online ministry? Is it simply to stream your church services to the world so you can reach more people? Or is it for something more?   

Although it is good that many churches stream their services to help people who are sick or traveling stay connected to the church, I have discovered that Online Church can be so much more than live-streaming.

What would it be like to not just stream your services but to actually build a community of people striving to figure out life and how God is apart of it?  If that was your goal, how could you go about doing that?  

One of the ways I have found successful is by starting Online Life Groups.

“Online Life Groups?  That’s not possible Tom!  You can’t build community with people online!  You need to be face to face and meet people in person for real community and spiritual growth to happen”

Yes, that would be ideal, but the reality is not everyone is able to meet in a home group or life group.  What do you do with those people? Say they are out of luck?  Of course not! You want them to connect and that is why online life groups are a very viable and effective option. Real community CAN and DOES develop online.  Just ask all those online dating sites and fantasy football leagues.

So how do you do Online Life Groups?  Here are a few ideas:

  • Facebook Groups.   I like to use Facebook groups because most people are on Facebook and it provides an easy entry to experience what an online group is like. Each day I will post a scripture, challenge, image or video to encourage them and to also get a discussion going.   The more interaction that happens the better the discussion and trust that builds up where people begin to share “real life” issues with each other.
  • Google Group.  Google groups are great to have a set number of people together discussion questions or topics in a forum type of way.  I tend to run these for 8-10 weeks at a time centered around a topic or a book in the Bible.  A new lesson is posted every Monday and the people have a week to respond to this.  As with the Facebook groups, the more interaction the better the conversations that happen.
  • Text Message Apps.  Group chats work great as a way to share scripture and encourage each other daily to grow in Christ. I have used apps like WhatsApp for a while with a group and it has been great.  This is really effective for International members of our church…although hearing the text alert sound in the middle of the night when they are up and I am not isn’t always great. ☺
  • Video Conferencing.  If using social media and forums aren’t your cup of tea, then maybe video conferencing using Google Hangouts or Zoom.  You can get together online at a certain time and actually have interactions LIVE as you discuss life just like a “physical” life group.

Life groups are vital to helping people develop and grow in their faith. Unfortunately not everyone is able to participate in a traditional life group.  That is why technology is great.  The more technology evolves and changes the more opportunities there are for people to experience a life group online.

What do you think? Have you tried online life groups before? What format do you use and how have you seen people grow in their faith because of it?  Share below. 


Tom has a background in Student Ministry working over 17 years with teenagers and currently serves as the Student Ministry and Online Campus Pastor at New Life Christian Church in Chantilly, VA.

Tom started YMSidekick.com back in 2007 (under “Not a Mega Church” branding) with the purpose to help ministry leaders do ministry more effectively. Tom writes, create videos and podcast weekly. In addition to the work he does at YMSidekick.com, Tom blogs regularly for Orange Leaders and is an official Orange Blogger. Follow Tom on Twitter @tapounder


How a Small Church Can Leverage a Church Online

I had coffee with a friend who planted a church a few years ago and he asked me how my job as an online campus pastor could in anyway help his new church. I loved the question because at first I wasn’t sure, but after some conversation and caffeine I had an idea and I wanted to share it with you.

All brick and mortar churches offer up a limited amount of church services on a weekend. You can’t offer more than 8 services at a given location because of daylight, volunteer time, and resources. This means every week there is on average around 4 hours your church location is ready for a new attender to experience your church and 164 hours underutilized. What if there was a way to leverage all 168 hours a week? What if there was a way for a new attender to experience what your church is all about on-demand anytime? Church online is the answer.

Five Steps to Get Up & Going:

1. Weekly capture your church service in high definition quality (welcome, music, & message).

2. Launch a church online experience page

3. Apply for a Google Grant to get $10,000 a month of online advertising through Google AdWords

4. Set up an advertising campaign targeting people within a 30 mile radius of your church address and direct traffic to your new 24/7 church online service page with your Google Grant money.*

5. Create a video and banner advertisement (place invite video/banner directly under your video player on your church online page) for everyone who visits your new online church experience to attend your local church (have your senior pastor do the invite video).

With five simple steps you will have a church service running 168 hours a week for new attenders to watch and get connected to your church targeting your local community.

*When setting up a Google AdWord campaign with your nonprofits’ Google Grant money use local language in the headline of the ad copy people from your city can identify with like “Watch LA Church Service” or “Live New York City Church Online” (insert your city name where the underline is located).

Examples:

If you want to accelerate the learning process sign up for my free 3 part video course here!


Jay Kranda (JayKranda.com) is the Online Campus Pastor and Extension Pastor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA. The Online Campus brings in over 20,000 people every week and 1,000 small group hosts open up their homes across the globe. Jay is the author of “Social Media Made Easy: Inexpensive Online Marketing Guide for Non-Profits” and is the Vice President of the Savannah Golf Classic charity. Jay is married to Jody and they have two boys.