As a leader, it is your responsibility to ensure that the Gospel is heard by every member of your congregation. Unfortunately, because of the pandemic, people have to take precautions. Indeed, getting together for a church study group can be difficult. Fortunately, you can still hold an online Bible study.
If you haven’t organized a virtual Bible study, this article will teach you all the steps you need to take. Usually, you need to:
- Choose an online meeting platform
- Study virtual meeting security
- Schedule the meeting and invite people
- Prepare for the online Bible study
- Facilitate an interesting conversation
Let’s get into the details of organizing an online Bible study.
Step 1: Choose an Online Meeting Platform
There are several video conferencing apps to choose from. However, here are the easiest and most convenient options:
These days, everyone has been talking a lot about Zoom these days. It’s one of the most popular tools for any type of virtual meeting or conference. Even if your online Bible study members do not have a Zoom account, they can still join the session. This is also the reason why Zoom is a convenient option.
- Basic – Free
- Pro – $149.90 per year, per license
- Small Businesses — $199.90 per year, per license
- Large Enterprises – Customized pricing plan available upon request
Google Meet is ideal for anyone with a Google account. This online meeting app is completely free. So, your group can use it for your online Bible study. You’ll see everyone on the screen, and the speaker will be enlarged.
Google Meet Pricing:
- Google Meet – Free
- Google Workspace Individual – $7.99 per month
- Google Workspace Enterprise – Customized pricing plan available upon request
Skype is one of the longest-standing video conferencing apps in the market today. Now that it is under Microsoft, its free version comes packed with more features. You can use it to organize an online Bible study with up to ten participants. It also includes file sharing and screen sharing features.
Now, if you want to extend the features of the app, you can opt to pay for the Skype for Business version. It’s perfect for collaborating, scheduling, and holding larger group meetings.
- Basic – Free
- Skype for Business – Pricing plans associated with Microsoft 365 packages
When GoToMeeting was initially designed as an online meeting platform that enables screen sharing. With this app, you can also record your online Bible study. It also comes with features that allow your small group to collaborate and interact. For instance, you can use the virtual whiteboard and drawing tool to dissect the semantics of a passage.
- Professional – $12 per organizer, per month
- Business – $16 per organizer, per month
- Enterprise – Customized pricing plan available upon request
Step 2: Study Virtual Meeting Security
Sadly, virtual meetings can also be hacked. If you don’t take security precautions, someone can get into your private online Bible study and cause chaos. As such, we recommend that you follow these security tips:
- Use a strong password
- Share the meeting ID and password to the people involved
- Don’t post the meeting details on social media
It’s also a great practice to use the waiting room feature. This way, you can see who wants to join the meeting, allowing you to control access. You can also adjust the settings to prevent participants from sharing their screens or files. So, even if a hacker manages to get into your meeting, they won’t be able to sneak in malware or inappropriate images.
On Zoom, there’s also a feature that allows the host to “manage participants”. If a user is disrupting the online Bible study, you can hover over their name and remove them from the session.
Step 3: Schedule the Meeting and Invite People
If you choose Zoom as your virtual meeting app, you can schedule your online Bible study through a few simple steps. Simply follow the instructions below:
Log in to your Zoom account, then launch the app.
Click the schedule icon.
Once the Schedule Meeting window appears, input the details of your session.
Type the meeting topic, date, and duration.
You can also opt to use your personal meeting ID or let the app generate it automatically. Under the Security section, you can add a passcode and select the Waiting Room feature.
Choose whether the participants will have their cameras on or off. Then, select which calendar app to send your schedule to. You can choose Outlook, Google Calendar, or Other Calendars.
Once you’re done, click Save.
Now, when inviting people to your online Bible study, you have to click the Meetings tab on the main toolbar.
Click Copy Invitation under the meeting schedule. Once you’ve done this, you can paste the meeting details into an email message and send it to the people you want to invite.
Step 4: Prepare for the Online Bible Study
Keep in mind that it takes careful planning to organize an online Bible study successfully. These are the four things you need to prepare before the actual meeting:
Having an agenda will help you stay on track during the session. Create an outline for the topic, group discussions, and prayer requests. To help the participants to become more comfortable during the session, you can plan an ice breaker activity.
Various materials can help people gain a deeper understanding of Bible scriptures. So, before the meeting, prepare online workbooks, discussion questions, and videos that can keep everyone engaged. There are plenty of online Bible study resources that you can use to enrich the session. Make sure you email the resources and materials to the participants before the meeting.
Less than an hour before the meeting, you should choose the ideal location for setting up your computer. The area should have good lighting and minimal clutter. Ideally, you should also use an external noise-canceling headphone with a microphone. This way, everyone in the meeting will hear you clearly.
Create Virtual Meeting Rules
At the beginning of the online Bible study, you should establish some ground rules to ensure that the session will flow smoothly. For instance, you can place everyone on mute and ask them to raise their hand if they want to speak. This way, they won’t talk over each other during the session.
It would also be a good idea to have another person in the meeting who will moderate the chat. They will let you focus on leading the group and teaching the lesson. If there are questions, the moderator will give you a heads up.
Step 5: Facilitate an Interesting Conversation
As someone who has some level of authority in the church, you probably understand that effective discussions should flow smoothly. So, here are some suggestions on how you can facilitate an interesting conversation during your virtual Bible study:
- Share inspirational quotes and relevant Bible verses.
- Offer one-on-one conversations with anyone who needs them.
- Discuss a recent sermon that everyone heard.
- Allow participants to share their prayer requests.
- Read the Bible together to promote unity.
Be a role model to the participants and show them what kind of engagement you’d like to see from them. Be understanding and loving no matter how varied the personalities are in the group. You can also encourage everyone by posting their meeting pictures and prayer requests. Remember to be someone who inspires others to grow as an individual.
Bonus Tip: Let the Participants Review the Meeting
One of the things that meeting hosts overlook is recording the session. It would be a good idea for participants to have something to go back to and review. So, at the beginning of the meeting, don’t forget to click record.
Now, if you have people with hearing loss or non-native English speakers in the group, having captions in the recording will help. You can take advantage of GoTranscript’s closed captioning services. The captions are 100% done by humans. So, you can ensure accuracy and quality. What’s more, with every order, you’ll get a free transcript. This way, all members of your online Bible study will not feel left out.
Having Bible studies online is a new way to gather people together. We understand if organizing one can be overwhelming for you. However, once you’ve learned the ropes of virtual meeting apps, the sessions will flow naturally. You’ll feel like you’re facilitating in-person gatherings. In some cases, online Bible study sessions can be a convenient option. After all, people won’t have to travel, allowing them to join the meeting from anywhere in the world. Besides, you can also record the session and share it with others who weren’t able to attend.