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What Does an Online Growth Group Look Like?

“With my work schedule, it’s tough to make it to an evening study at church during the week.”

“Having four little ones at home keeps me running. I’m not sure when I’ll have a breather. Every day is different.”

“A 10:30pm Bible study would be the best time for the hours I keep.”

“Living over an hour away from church makes it tough to get to an evening study.”

Attending a 7:00pm Wednesday Bible study at church doesn’t work for many in our congregations.

In the previous two issues of Teach the Word, we saw that large congregations and small to medium congregations are providing numerous opportunities during the week for Christians to gather together around the Word in Growth Groups. But what if even those scheduled times don’t work? Here’s another possibility.

Online-Work-StudyFacebook and Yahoo! provide users the ability to create private or public groups. People can then join the group through subscriptions or invitations. Facebook and Yahoo! accounts are free and are easy to create.

At my church, I created a Facebook Group called “Words Bringing Wisdom – A St. Peter Facebook Study Group.” For our study each week, I provide three questions for participants to respond to, based on what we are studying that week. Participants can answer in the threads of the questions with as much or as little as they would like. And these can be done at a time that fits the schedule of the participant. The second-shift worker can login when the time fits the schedule. The mom can do her study and contribute answers when the kids are napping. The long-distance member can connect with others in spiritual growth without spending hours on the road.

Online Growth Groups can be used to study sections of Scripture, topical studies, Bible teachings, Bible characters, a PDF of an article or paper, or Christian books (reading a selection each week). There are lots of options.

Here are questions from a book study of Escaping the Deathtraps to give an example of the questions for the week.

• Week of June 7-13, p. 94-112 (Chapters 8 & 9), Question #1: Would you say that chapter 8 was overall encouraging or frightening? Explain.

• Week of June 7-13, p. 94-112 (Chapters 8 & 9), Question #2: Why would people think that false doctrine is not a big deal? Can you list at least two reasons?

• Week of June 7-13, p. 94-112 (Chapters 8 & 9), Question #3: What can a person do to take false doctrine more seriously? Be as specific as you can in your answer (that is, don't just say, "Pray more").

Online Growth Groups may provide an opportunity for Bible study to a segment of your congregation that finds attending traditional ways of being in a Bible study a bit difficult.

Dan Schroeder

Pastor Dan Schroeder serves as pastor at St. Peter Lutheran Church in Modesto, California. He previously served in Jackson, Wisconsin; Chula Vista, California; and as Bible Study Editor at Northwestern Publishing House.