Adapting to the times
It’s 2019. Your church has just started running Christianity Explored in person. You go early to the session, to perhaps help set up tables and chairs or to assist in the cooking of the meal. You huddle together 15 minutes before guests arrive to pray with one another. When guests arrive, you shake hands with those you are meeting for the first time and embrace friends who you have invited along to join. You sit down, enjoy a freshly cooked, hot meal, laugh, open the Bible together…
Flashforward to 2021. Your church has decided to run another online evangelistic course. You’re really glad that they are, but you’re worried about how the group dynamics will work on Zoom.
This year has challenged us all to be more urgent in our evangelism whilst also battling greatly with Zoom fatigue. We’ve had to adapt to make courses more accessible and as comfortable and welcoming as they can be online. Cranleigh Baptist Church has done just that.
The Christianity Explored series has seven sessions. Between session six and seven the course leaders are encouraged to plan a day away, a day spent together in order to build relationships and have focused times look at some crucial stories in Mark’s gospel. Of course, right now this is not possible but Cranleigh Baptist Church did the best they could to keep the community day away part of the online series.
Peter, from Cranleigh Baptist Church, said, “We had a small group. We offered the option of showing all three ‘day away’ videos on one day, or of lengthening the course by a couple of weeks in order to show them in the weekly evening series. The group all preferred the idea of one day, so we were able to hold the ‘day away’ on the Saturday between weeks six and seven of the course.”
To make up for the aspects of hospitality that are hard to replicate in an online meeting, the church decided to send out a parcel of tea, coffee and biscuits to the guests before the day arrived. As expected, they were thrilled.
“We had three sessions, starting at 10 am, 11.45 am and 4 pm. The first two we kept within 45 minutes and allowed an hour for the third (we kept all the course sessions to an hour max). We were able to use all the material for the ‘day away’ within this timescale, and it seems to have gone well. The only change we made was to omit the third video about Herod and get one of the leaders to read the video transcript accompanied by a PowerPoint showing the Bible verses, which we felt better met the needs of our group.”
The team did come across some challenges. The main one being the inability for personal one to one conversations, although, in the small groups there was more opportunity to get to know one another leading people to speak more openly as the course progressed.
Now, fast forward to 2022. You’re more confident about running a course online after experiencing it a few times and learning how to navigate conversations in breakout rooms. You prepared parcels for your guests and they are waiting to be delivered by some church members knowing they will be received fondly by the guests.
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To purchase a handbook to add to the parcel for guests, click here.