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When you can’t meet as a group, it can be challenging to feel connected and stay on track with your Bible study. Fortunately, popular video call services, like Zoom, are a great way to connect with others remotely.
They can also allow you to include individuals who normally wouldn’t attend Bible study due to health concerns, a lack of transportation, or work limitations.
Today, we’re sharing how you can host Zoom Bible study groups and our top tips for having a successful virtual Bible study.
If you’re looking for an interactive way to teach a Bible study while social distancing or connecting with others across the globe, Zoom is an excellent platform for hosting a Bible study.
Here are a few reasons why Zoom is the best platform for hosting your online Bible study:
Zoom is free to use and widely available regardless of an individual’s computer specifications
Zoom is user-friendly, and many people have already used it for work or other purposes
Zoom allows you to host more people on one call (Up to 100 people for up to 40 minutes for free, unlike other platforms like Google Hangouts, which only allow up to ten people)
Zoom has great collaboration tools, such as breakout rooms which you can use to break into small groups, annotation features, and a chat box.
Zoom allows you to set a strong password to ensure that only Bible study members are allowed into the video call, which can help prevent troublemakers and hackers from breaking in.
So, how can you host a great online Bible study on Zoom? Let’s break down everything you should do to prepare for the study, features and tips you should know about while the meeting is going on, and steps to take after the online Bible study.
Start by choosing what kind of Bible study you are going to host. Will you only include members of your church? If so, this makes it easy to host a sermon-based Bible study that goes along with the theme of the current sermons your church is hosting.
Consider how long your Bible study will go on. Are you planning on a short-term Bible study that is six weeks or less? Ask potential participants if they prefer long or short Bible studies to get a feel for current needs. You can also poll them about possible focuses for the Bible study. Many may feel isolated and anxious during this uncertain time, so choosing a topic that supports these feelings may be helpful for the group.
Will your Bible study be based on a specific book of the Bible, Bible study book, devotional, or online Bible course? Online Bible courses can reduce the pressure of teaching and give your group plenty of material to discuss during your study. Many websites, such as Lifeway, offer free, short-form online Bible courses that would make an excellent foundation for a study.
If you plan on basing the Bible study on a particular book or online Bible course, give the group plenty of time to purchase the book or course and wait for the book to arrive in the mail.
Once the group has their materials, select a recurring time for the online Bible study group to meet and send out a Zoom link invitation. We recommend setting a strong password and only sending the link to participants to prevent troublemakers or hackers from joining the group and disrupting the spiritual meeting.
If the materials don’t already include discussion questions, consider creating a short agenda about the topics and questions the group will be covering in the study. Include thought-provoking questions, prayer time, time for questions about the material, and prompts. Remember to include extra time to allow participants to share personal anecdotes and prayer requests.
Don’t hop on the Zoom call without taking a few minutes to organize your background. We recommend not using the green screen Zoom background unless you have a green screen because these can be distracting and look impersonal. Instead, clear up any clutter in your background and set up good lighting so that participants can clearly see your face and emotion.
We also recommend wearing a headset or using a microphone to ensure that participants can hear you clearly. Practice using the headset or microphone before the call with the Zoom test function to ensure that it’s hooked up and working well.
Take time during the first meeting to allow everyone to introduce themselves and share a bit about their life and why they’ve joined this online Bible study. You can even ask that members answer a few questions, such as where they are from, what their spiritual journey has been like, and a fun question like what their favorite ice cream flavor is and why.
Share ground rules to make the meetings go smoother. Consider the following ground rules:
Ask members to mute their mics to reduce distracting background noise
Ask members to raise their hands when they want to share
Explain if the chat will be open or not and what to use the chat for
Ask others if someone would like to be your co-host during the meeting. A co-host can monitor the chat for you while you’re presenting, help answer questions, and keep an eye on the time to make sure you don’t go over.
Your co-host can also manage an audio or video recording of the Bible study, which we recommend for sharing with members who missed the Bible study. You can also create a transcript with the recording using Notta, which allows you to add notes and images to the transcript to create a study guide. Always let members know they are being recorded at the beginning of the meeting.
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Sharing your screen can make the Bible study more visually appealing and engaging. Consider creating a PowerPoint before the Bible study or sharing a short video on your shared screen with the group to break up long periods of talking.
You can also share your screen to go over Zoom features that participants may not be familiar with, such as the chat feature or muting and unmuting themselves.
A Bible study isn’t just an opportunity to listen to a sermon. It’s also a chance to ask questions about the material in a way you can’t do during a traditional church sermon. Allow members plenty of time to ask any questions and share any prayer requests they have with the group.
This time is crucial for building community within the group and helping everyone truly learn the material inside and out.
Help members stay on track with the Bible study by clearly stating what the assignment is for the next session. Make sure it’s quick and easy. You don’t want to discourage individuals from continuing with the group. However, having no established assignment between sessions can make members feel like they aren’t learning enough.
Some ideas for simple assignments include: writing a short reflection, completing a chapter of the Bible study book, watching the next lesson in the online Bible course, or completing an exercise from the Bible study book.
Send a quick email thanking everyone for attending the Bible study. If someone didn’t show up, send them a brief email that exudes kindness and makes it clear that you are just checking in to make sure they are doing okay. Never make someone feel guilty for missing, as this can backfire and alienate Bible study members.
We recommend also including a polite reminder stating what the assignment is to keep everyone on track and expectations clear in your follow-up email. You can also ask everyone for feedback or even create a poll to see what participants would like to see next from the Bible study meetings.
For example, some participants may want more break-out room use for small groups. Others may desire a change in meeting style, with some meetings being a formal lecture and others being an interactive discussion.
Before the next meeting, send out a quick email the day before reminding everyone about the time and resharing the Zoom meeting link. You can also touch on any points you’ll be discussing, share the meeting agenda, and remind everyone of the assignment.
These touch-base emails serve as gentle reminders that the meeting is tomorrow and what members can expect. Remember to include any online links to Bible study materials in these emails.
Notta offers real-time transcription, analysis, and summarization of your Zoom meeting, audio, and video content, instantly transforming spoken words into searchable text on any device. This empowers you to effortlessly access knowledge from any content, wherever you are.
Hosting an online Bible study group can feel overwhelming when you’re new to hosting online meetings. However, the process will become easier with each session.
You’ll quickly see the benefits of virtual Bible studies when members become closer during the process and become their own spiritual community. An online Bible study can greatly impact members’ lives, spiritual connection, and loneliness, especially during these difficult times.