Online vs. In-Person: 5 Group Options for COVID Re-Entry

This is the course I wish I would have had 35 years ago when I started small group ministry.” – Steve Gladen

Presenting our new online training course – “Align!” Align will help you learn the small group ministry essentials. It features…

  • 8 HD video session taught by Steve Gladen 
  • A downloadable workbook
  • Lesson discussion questions
  • An official Small Group Network completion certificate
  • A special gift to help further your Small Group Ministry

Learn more by watching the free course introduction & ENROLL HERE!

You have gotten the question – Will we be meeting online or in-person for groups as we reopen?

Behind that question, a group leader has an opinion. They feel ZOOM-ed out from all the online meetings. Some love the ease of online groups because they no longer have to worry about childcare. Others could see the benefits and challenges of both meeting online or in-person.

What if I told you the best way you could lead as a small group point person was not to mandate either in-person or online groups?

The why of small groups throughout the Coronavirus shutdown has remained the same. Small groups are a vital environment for people to experience the gospel. Groups pray, engage God’s Word, have fun, challenge each other to grow, and serve together.

When leaders and groups know their why then the how of meeting will become clear. 

Some groups will embrace the authenticity of meeting online. They can experience the gospel through ZOOM. Other groups long to meet in-person because meeting online brought a variety of challenges to experiencing the gospel.

As a small group point person, you cast the vision of the why of small groups. Then, the best way you can help the groups you serve becomes providing them with options.

In this post, I want to prepare you for these conversations with the leaders you serve. Here are a few options that you can help small group leaders plan their meetings in-person or online:

100% Online

You will have groups that want to continue online. Often, online groups can meet more consistently, and they can go deeper faster. Just because groups meet online, doesn’t mean they don’t meet in-person. Instead, their regular meeting rhythm remains online all the time.

75% Online & 25% In-Person

Think of this group option as once a month in-person and the rest of the month online. Groups can plan social gatherings to have fun while utilizing online for regular meetings. This option can bring consistency of meeting online while also a different connection in-person.

50% Online & 50% In-Person

Existing groups before the shutdown might have met bi-weekly and then went weekly online during the shutdown. The problem with groups meeting bi-weekly is that if a member misses one, they could miss a whole month of groups. Groups deciding to meet 50%-50% most likely have added an extra meeting because of going online.

75% In-Person & 25% Online

Honestly, this option seems like the most complicated or least used. Groups would meet once a month online and the rest of the month in-person. Some groups might find this option appealing to planning out times in the month they may not meet in-person. Even if this option is rarely chosen, it helps leaders think through their planning.

100% In-Person

Some of the group leaders you lead feel ZOOM-ed out. I think it’s critical they know that they can meet in-person. This routine of meeting in-person will allow them to get into a rhythm of experiencing the gospel.

I want to encourage you as a small group point person to invest more time in the why rather than the how of small groups.

As we reopen churches, providing group leaders with options of meeting in-person and online will empower them to become the spiritual leaders we pray they would.


Have a question or an insight? Leave it below!

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Daniel Thomas

Connections Director


Daniel serves as Executive Pastor at Community Church of Mountain City, TN.  Daniel and his family are on a mission to establish roots within their community, fight for peace and serve well.  He serves as our Connections Director in laying the groundwork for Circles. He loves great coffee and traveling with his wife Tia and two children, Deklan and Aden



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