The terms online small group or hybrid group weren’t at the forefront of many ministry strategy planning sessions in early 2020, but deep into a global pandemic several months later small group directors nationwide have become experts on virtual communities. While much has been written about small groups in the digital space, what do we do with groups meeting both in-person and online? They’ve come to be known as Hybrid Groups and I’ve invited Amber Stewart to share what she has learned about this important opportunity.
Amber serves as Discipleship Support and First Impressions Director at New Hope Baptist Church. New Hope is a multi-site church on the outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia.
Amber, thanks for taking part in the discussion. I want to start with the all-important “why” question. Why would a ministry enable and encourage hybrid groups? What are the circumstances under which a group would benefit by not being in-person only or online only?
Thank you for the question, Bill. I think there are so many more answers today for that question than we would have considered at the beginning of 2020. Given our current circumstances with the uncertainty and ever-changing dynamics related to COVID-19, we pursued hybrid options as a way to make sure that our entire community could remain connected especially as it relates to what we call Family Groups. Our Family Groups, which are similar to small groups or Sunday school groups, are the heartbeat of our church and it’s the way we ensure everyone has a place to connect, learn the Word of God, and be a part of our mission. To that end, we wanted to be inclusive of some of the populations in our church who felt vulnerable, at-risk, or just uncomfortable ...