This article is part two in a series. Please read part one first Why the Rule of Six could help your friendships.
We belong to a Church home group called Rooted, for six years we’ve met together on alternate weeks. Our group consists of about fourteen people, but its pretty fluid. People come and go for work, or life changes. We meet for food, friendship, studying God’s Word and supporting each other in prayer. That was until lockdown hit.
We turned to Zoom as our way to meet, and have been online since. There have been highs and lows that I’m sure you’ll associate with. As we started to plan for the autumn term we decided to stop and pause. Things had changed since we last met in July, we weren’t in lockdown anymore and yet we had the rule of six to contend with. So we prayed and talked through our options. We made a plan for how our group could meet, in a way that best supports us all and our values.
In some ways, as a large group, it would have been easier to stay on Zoom. But we decided to be creative and see if another approach might be what we need in this season. My husband and I work with students, he’s a researcher and I work for IFES. The Universities have had to shift how they teach this academic year. Some are teaching online, others are flipping how you learn, listening to lectures on your own and coming together to discuss. Hopefully some are still teaching in person! We’re intrigued by the concept of blended learning and hybrid teaching and the implications on church life. I’ve seen colleagues do national training whilst gathering in small groups to listen and discuss, and I’m helping plan an International conference with in person country groups.
We decided to go for a hybrid approach for Rooted, we’re not in a local lockdown yet, so this is still possible. Our group of 14 (usual attendance about 7) split into three clusters, one online and two “in person”. At one home we had four, another home three and six online. The logistics were a bit complicated but we worked hard because we believed in what we were doing. We thought through the advantages and disadvantages to the tech we were using, but also reflected upon our core values as a group. In the end we decided to join altogether (on Zoom) for the welcome, and a short introduction to the Bible discussion. We then discussed the passage in our clusters, and came back together for feedback and prayer. The “in person” clusters were on one screen per house, the online cluster logging in individually.
Here are some things that I noticed about our homegroup
1. This was our highest attendance ever. Those that could were quick to jump at the chance to meet in person. But having an online cluster meant that many more could also attend. The online cluster consisted of; single parents, a COVID shielder, one person with flu and two people who were working away.
2. Each person had a greater opportunity to speak. Optimal conversation online happens in groups of 4-5. I’d been thinking for awhile that our group was too big but because it was so fluid we hadn’t split in two. It was wonderful to hear people talk and contribute in a way that I’d not heard before.
3. More opportunity to lead a Bible study. Over the term you’re three times more likely to have an opportunity to lead a study, this is a brilliant way to develop your group in leading and teaching others from the Bible.
4. Higher level of sharing and intimacy. The smaller number created groups that had a higher level of sharing and intimacy, this was seen in the discussions, but also in the conversation afterwards.
5. Opportunity to grow. We intentionally created groups of 5 or less so that we could grow. Week one a friend joined who had never been to church before, she loved the welcome and a chance to meet with others in person. Due to her religion she wouldn’t be allowed to go into a church building, however studying the Bible in someone’s home was fine!
Could it be for this season that God is calling his church, his people to have a higher level of sharing and intimacy? I think so, we look forward to seeing what God will do in and through us in Rooted.
Could it be for this season that God is calling his church, his people to have a higher level of sharing and intimacy?Tweet
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A meal with Jesus by Dave Bish – Growing friendships in your homegroup