By Matt McNaughton
Grace Life Church functions on three distinct strategies that helps us make disciples who make disciples: Grow in the Gospel, Connect because of the Gospel, and Influence with the Gospel. Everything we do is guided by our strategy. So, when we, along with the entire country, were called to practice “social distancing,” we had to find a new way to maintain our strategic commitments in a new environment.
At Grace Life, we have always emphasized connecting through our weekly LifeGroups that meet in homes. It was a large component our strategic commitment to make disciples. These home groups gather regularly to encourage one another, study the Word together, and pray together.
In one fell swoop, they were no longer able to meet in person.
What do we do now?
Virtual Small Groups Are Easier than You Think
Enter Zoom Video Conferencing. Over the last 5 weeks, our church has gathered in groups virtually. We have prayed together, laughed together, read the Bible together, and encouraged one another. We are striving to live out Acts 2:42-47, even while at home. The early church attended the temple together, we’re going to temporarily zoom conference together. While virtual gathering does not compare to gathering in person, it is what we must do because we need each other (Hebrews 10:24-25).
We’ve kept the same format in our virtual groups as we had prior to the pandemic. We spend time catching up, we go over the text from the previous Sunday’s sermon, and then we pray. It only takes an hour. That’s it, but it has become one of the most important and anticipated hours of the week for the many in our church
A Shocking Lesson
Since the start of our Virtual LifeGroups, the number of those participating in our groups has grown by thirty percent, creating the need to start more groups. This time of isolation has taught many of our members, especially those who were never involved in a small group, just how much we need connection and community in our lives. Additionally, it has reminded all of us, just how central God’s church is to our well-being as Christians. We need each other!
By God’s grace, each time we gather virtually, we are allowing the short comings of video conferencing to create in us a longing to meet together in person and praying the lessons of the centrality of public worship will not be lost on us as we phase out of the pandemic restrictions and attempt to return to some sense of normalcy. We are praying the same for you.
Matt McNaughton is a JBA church planter in Lake Asbury, Florida.