Small Group Bible Study - In-home vs ZOOM

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Posts 31
Don Kolafa | Forum Activity | Posted: Sun, Aug 8 2021 10:46 AM

Because this old-timer still learns from experience, I thought I would update an earlier discussion here:

I have been leading in-home small-group Bible studies for over 40 years and have found Logos to be an invaluable tool--for preparation and presentation.  I target group sizes of 6-18 attendees, but the optimum size of my groups is about a dozen.  Prior to the pandemic, I displayed my Logos screen on flat-panel TV screens.  With Zoom on-line sessions (yes, I switched to Zoom to facilitate broadcasting video), I alternate between the gallery view of faces and a shared Logos screen.

At the beginning of this year, I embarked upon the most difficult task of my ministry:  I created a series of studies to overview each book of the Bible in an hour session.  It is relatively easy to create and lecture a summary in that time frame, but I genuinely wanted to publicly read specific scripture and to have interactive discussion.  The numerous sections which overlap in several books--especially in the Torah and the Gospels--facilitated the selection of study scripture.

I assembled a 2-page structured downloadable hand-out with descriptive background/context, summary and book outline as well as the study session readings with Q&A.  By double-session of a few books and combining the very small books, we sequenced through the Old Testament in 22 weekly sessions on one night and through the New Testament on another night.  We finished in June with a review and attendee appraisal of this experiment.

I learned several things:

1.  The serious students occasionally appreciate a full Bible review.  I did not lose a single regular attendee.  Reaction was encouraging and stirred curiosity to later study some books in greater detail.

2.  Most of the attendees had previously attended in-home sessions so they could compare both approaches to Bible study.  The greatest surprise was the warm reception for the remote on-line Zoom platform and everything that accompanies this seemingly impersonal means of meeting.  We actually created an environment very conducive to Bible study and to fellowship.  I credit the gregarious nature of the attendees.  Many noted that it was easier to be frequent attendees since they did not need to plan for a long visit away from home.  We also had some out-of-state attendees.  It was suggested that we might attract outsiders without intimidation factors.  Attendance remains high at an average of 14 per session.

3.  Another surprise was the concurrence that it was a bad idea to record any part of the session.  Although I had requests to record an upcoming session from people who had conflicts, I declined citing the personal and privacy reasons.  I suggested that we could record each session between the IceBreaker and the concluding prayers--thereby providing a means for catch-up--but the privacy issue overrode any benefit.  It was suggested that the lack of any alternate way of consuming the session actually encouraged attendance when it was not convenient to do so.

4.  I indicated that we might re-run this series every couple of years.  Surprisingly, these regular Bible students indicated they would like that kind of regular Bible book review.  We also hoped that we could attract the original target of this study--the novice Bible student who "just wants to know about the Bible."

I am so pleased with the evaluations.  Admittedly, I invested a great deal of time and effort into formulating and creating this experiment.  I conclude that my time was well used.


Posts 733
Steve Maling | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Aug 8 2021 1:31 PM

Thanks for this full, encouraging report. And congratulations to you for creating the course!

Posts 6004
DIsciple II | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Aug 8 2021 8:41 PM

Wonderful to hear of how this went and the positive feedback.

May the Lord continue to bless you, your family and those whom you serve as you look for ways to continue to grow people in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through your ministry.

Posts 5
Zack | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Aug 13 2021 5:36 AM

Thanks for the report, I was wondering about how some Zoom based Bible studies were handled / received

Though as a computer repair person, I'll point out that anything done online or with >1 person is only pseudo private as the attendees could record from their end.

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