Making Hybrid Small Groups Work

Making Hybrid Small Groups Work

On-line ministry is here to stay so how do you make the benefits outweigh the challenges?

Prior to the pandemic, the terms online or hybrid small group weren’t at the forefront of many ministry strategy planning sessions. Fast forward to today and small group directors nationwide are experts on virtual communities. While much has been written about small groups in the digital space, how do we make small groups that meet both in-person and online work? I invited Amber Stewart, Discipleship Support and First Impressions Director at New Hope Baptist Church in Atlanta, to share what she has learned.

Let’s start with the all-important “why” question. Why would a ministry enable and encourage hybrid groups?

Given our current circumstances with the uncertainty and ever-changing dynamics related to COVID-19, at New Hope Baptist we pursued hybrid options as a way to make sure that our entire community could remain connected. Our Family Groups, which are like 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 returning to campus when we re-opened. We’ve seen classes benefit keeping current members connected, but also by bringing in individuals who don’t belong to a church, family group or even live in another state or country.

We’ve experienced the same at Crossings Community Church here in Oklahoma City. It forces you to rethink community! Fortunately, today there are many online format choices. The two most popular platforms for hybrid groups are Zoom and Facebook Live. What are the pros and cons of each?

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