Many of our Small Groups have experienced much change (and so quickly) in the recent weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While some of you may have a love-hate relationship with technology, it sure is proving to be a blessing in these days and times. Our Small Groups can connect and “see” one another virtually, using various online platforms. While there are many different studies available for Small Groups to use, this is also a great opportunity for you to use your pastor’s sermon, and find ways incorporate it into your Online Small Group. Below are six ways to use your pastor’s sermon for online groups:
PRAYER & ENCOURAGEMENT FOR YOUR PASTOR
We all know prayer is powerful, and our Pastors need our prayers. Connecting your Small Group with the sermon-series is a great opportunity to invite your group members to be more prayerful in regards to praying for your Pastor. One way you can do this with your group is to set a designated day/time for your group to spend time in prayer, praying for your pastor as he prepares and delivers the Sunday sermon message. Let him know that you and your group are praying for him (maybe ask if there is anything specific in regards to the message that your group can be praying for?). In addition, you can also use this time to provide your pastor with any encouragement, as you feel the Spirit leading you.
SUNDAY ONLINE GROUP GATHERING
Most, if not all, church services at this time, have been moved online. This is a great opportunity to encourage your group to come together and “watch” the service online “together.” This will help you feel a little more connected rather than just calling in from your own home on your own. This is also a great opportunity to spend time in fellowship. Invite your group members to meet online before service, or stay online after the service and have coffee together (BYO of course!) and spend time praying over prayer requests, or use the time to share what key part of the sermon message impressed your heart the most.
When times return to normal, why not continue this group gathering by encouraging groups to sit together! It strengthens the bonds, and also allows the Small Groups to be move visible to others. The group can encourage intentionality in reaching out to someone they don’t know or recognize and introducing them to their group — and inviting them to join!
If your Church has a “Small Groups” link, this is a perfect opportunity for you to provide some daily devotions to keep Church members and small group members in the Word throughout the week. One way to provide these is to have a volunteer team (often someone very involved with Small Groups) that focuses on sermon-questions and devotions. These daily devotions specifically break down the sermon Scripture passage, and encourage people to “dig deeper” into the message, as well as to stay encouraged throughout the week.
However, even if you don’t have a “Small Groups” link to make this happen, you can simply encourage your Small Groups to encourage daily communication with members via any platform that works (group text, app chat, or even email) and invite each member to share “What did God teach you through the sermon message?” Ask them to share anything that stands out using the Scripture passage or anything that the pastor said that really stood out. This can be very powerful, if you are able to engage everyone, as it keeps everyone in the Word, and provides encouragement and accountability, which we all need – especially now in a world that has many distractions fighting for our attention.
Having a “sermon question team” is also a great benefit! These are people (often volunteers) who come up with questions that are based directly on the sermon message. They often include an introduction question, which gets the group talking and sharing personal experiences related to the topic. Then, these questions dig deeper into the main Scripture passage, as well as engage other Scriptures that connect to the main one. Finally, sermon questions must have some application, where you encourage your group members to apply what they learned. When your group meets online, the group facilitator can lead the discussion, using these questions. These questions are open-ended questions designed to bring about lots of sharing.
APPLICATION CHALLENGE & ACCOUNTABILITY
We all know faith involves putting into practice what we learn. Incorporating your pastor’s sermon series into your online small group is a great opportunity to engage group members in not only application, but also accountability. If you haven’t already, this is a great time to deepen connections by “partnering up” with someone else in the group (either individuals or couples, depending on the dynamics of the group) and work together to encourage accountability in applying what was learned. Encourage them to think of the overall “take away” lesson from the sermon and what is ONE step you will do in the week ahead to put into practice what was learned? Throughout the week, encourage engagement within these little groups, and then when you come together for your next online meeting, celebrate together the victories as a large group!
The end of each sermon-series, provides a great opportunity to celebrate all that God has done in your group, as well as others! Be sure to collect stories of transformation, both within individuals & groups — and pictures too! Depending on the length of each series, you may want to set aside three or four celebrations a year, where all Small Groups can come together (hopefully in-house/on campus), and have a time of worship and sharing. Invite various individuals from every group to share how the sermon-series impacted them in a personal way. This is a special time together and encourages everyone. It also aids in showing the value of Small Groups – so if you can, be sure to capture some on video and use for future Small Group promotions designed to connect the unconnected.
There are many ways you can take your Pastor’s sermon message and make it work for your group – whether you meet online or in person! Using the above methods can help deepen bonds within your group (as well as with your Pastor) and encourage more time in the Word, as well accountability in applying what is being taught and learned. Last, but not least, using the Pastors message can also fuel the reminder that we are always “better together” and show the value of being in a Small Group.