The pause lasts for 2 minutes. A handful of people respond in the chat on YouTube.
Meanwhile, some of us conduct our own private chat using text, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or our medium of choice. We have thoughts, but we aren’t comfortable “talking out loud” in front of the entire congregation.
Small Group Discussions: Deeper All Week Long
The big payoff comes with small groups. A typical Tuesday or Thursday evening small group discussion now gets kicked into gear Sunday morning. The “talkative” member of the group (every group has at least one) takes the discussion question posed by the pastor and begins typing away — in an email, in chat, wherever.
Now, a funny thing about people in small groups. Some are quick to talk, others are quick to listen. And, in this new online dynamic, the conversation takes place over the course of hours, or a day, or several days. Not everyone is going to respond in the moment. But, it is helpful when one person gets the ball rolling. It may be later on Sunday when the next person responds or adds to the conversation. And another on Monday morning.
And, just like that, there is an ongoing conversation that continues through the week, and perhaps reaches a peak by the time the group meets altogether at their appointed time.
Some in the group will not speak much in the online context. However, they are able to consume the group interaction in their own way, letting it germinate during the week.
“I don’t think people realized what online discipleship would mean beyond Sunday morning,” says Rev. Tony Arnold, online campus pastor, Christ Church in Fairfax Station, Virginia on a recent podcast with Jason Stanley. “We have a solid Sunday experience, we want to extend that beyond Sunday. We know that most of the growth isn’t going to happen just keeping your faith contained on Sunday morning. It’s what you do with your faith throughout the week, the way you intentionally approach it, that really matters.”
Yes, all of this post-Sunday interaction could have been happening for years now, but usually hasn’t. Because church is now experienced online, people have adapted their habits to the medium, and are using it in ways that feel natural to the setting, and conducive to the dynamic of their groups.
“What God has done through this season,” says Arnold, “has forced us out of our comfort zone so that we are able to discover new ways of being in ministry with others.
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