I have been a group organizer all my life. Moving to Minnesota 20 years ago, I needed to meet people quickly, so I formed a “Little Girls Play Group” at which my daughter could also meet friends. Soon after, I hosted a Moms in Touch group in my home. I am a founding member of a 15 year old women’s book club and two years ago, I started hosting a Spiritual Book club with three women that has grown to six. I twice took on the daunting (for me) task of being a small group leader for young women in high school and then in middle school. With a lot of prayer and encouragement from friends, I began a Women’s Bible Study in my home one summer that turned out to be a much needed tonic for the women who attended. It is rare that I am not leading or joining a bible study group.
And then came COVID. With this horrible virus raging, there would be no in-person meetings. It was my weekly SKYPE bible study with my dear friend, Janice, creator of this site, that gave me an idea for a new kind of Small Group.
I started this group like all the others, by asking God what I should do, who I should invite and how it would work. What He organized was a group of five women who all know each other at least by sight, if not more closely. We are: one in Texas, one visiting Texas for the winter, one who lives two hours north of me and one who lives nearby, but not a group that could meet in person even if COVID were conquered. Once a week we log into Zoom or Facebook Messenger’s new video app and spend an hour studying God’s word and exchanging prayer requests.
It takes a little adjusting to do bible study virtually. We do miss the casual fellowship over coffee and tasty nibbles before discussion begins. Also, women have a tendency to all talk at once and we have learned to slow down and listen before we make ourselves heard. We have also learned to be patient and have a lot of grace for each other when we experience the inevitable technical issues of a virtual meeting. You may not believe it until you experience it for yourself, but the praying we do for each other can feel as close and comforting as the hugs which are inadvisable for now.
Our first study was Don McLaughlin’s “Love First”. You can get the DVD of videos at ACU Press Books, and you can download the small group questions in this PDF.
We all agreed this was a great study for COVID times, because as we have less opportunities to know people by meeting with them in person, the more likely it is we will judge them. The “Love First” study took us through 1 Corinthians 13 in the most meaningful way I have ever studied it, and we truly learned how to love God and love others through this study.
If starting a virtual bible study seems daunting to you, remember these truths: “Nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37 NIV) and “Where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:20)
Hi. I’m Allison Olson and have been blessed enough to be friends with Janice and Bill since 2016. I’ve been in a small group ever since Bill ran an Alpha course at our local church which turned into a small group that lasted a little while. My husband and I joined with Bill and Janice when they began their couples’ small group.
Janice, knowing how much I love to write, invited me to be a blog contributor on this site. I formerly wrote blog posts for the Never So Broken Ministry for women. I’m a transplanted Southerner (Tennessee and Florida), who has happily lived in Minnesota for 21 years with my husband and two grown children.
Small groups have been my second family and I hope we can help you with yours!