Bible Study, Facebook Style
Leaders are discovering that Facebook Bible studies can bring people together for instant and ongoing interaction without the logistical hurdles of travel time, babysitters, and personal schedules.
Social media forums such as Facebook provide a great way to engage Christians and non-Christians in dialogue together, provide non-threatening environment for Biblically-inspired discussion, and many churches believe it facilitates deeper relationships within the church as well. The flexibility of the format is another plus, as it offers public involvement, private involvement on a group page, and can even be part of a hybrid type solution that brings in video conferencing capabilities and an online scripture link.
Allison Hicks, Communication Administrator/Young Adult Coordinator with Klein UMC is excited to try a social media discussion group this spring. “For Christmas, I received The 5 Love Languages book with devotionals,” she shares, “and thought that would be a great topic for a Facebook study, so we will launch that around Easter as a Facebook group, but keep it open to anyone in the church or beyond to join and participate.”
To publicize this interactive opportunity, Allison plans to generate a graphic depicting the study and one that is easy to share. “This material will lend itself to possibly an 8-week discussion where we might post a few key points each week and let the discussion posts begin. I believe this book is a popular one that would attract people of all ages, and one that addresses reasons people don’t communicate very well these days.”
She would love to leverage the popularity of Facebook LIVE by including a Q&A session with a pastor or a relationship counselor from the church. “I can imagine the participants would also enjoy a discussion where they can provide suggestions based on their experiences.”
She adds, “This online study topic would also be good with a concluding workshop or event at the end allowing folks to get together and meet in person. At the conclusion, the group can decide if they want to start another topic or book, or discontinue participation.”
Kitty Key enjoyed being in a private group for a Facebook Bible study sponsored by Sabine Pass UMC in Port Arthur. “It was fun! Although it was a closed group, it involved people from across the state, which gave members of our small congregation the opportunity to share with others.” She liked the simplicity of accessing presentations on YouTube and the option to “chat” at an appointed hour, or leave comments later. “Some of our participants had not been active in a congregation in some time,” she adds. “While there is nothing like gathering face-to-face, meeting across the miles to study the Word was cool.”
Some groups pick a day and time each week and conduct the entire study via Facebook posts, including prayers, links to devotionals, and questions/answers. “People would look forward to going to the group every morning to start their day,” shares Kenny Jahng, who has moderated groups for several different churches. “As people could, they discussed the questions throughout the week, as well.”
Online conversations reportedly go better when the church representative is responding from their personal page rather than as the host church name. “Staff members participate in our discussion questions, but give others a chance to share their opinions first,” notes Jessica Cobb, an avid fan of leveraging Facebook for kingdom communication.
By “boosting” posts and creating church ads, Facebook also gives churches the opportunity to target specific demographics and non-churched audiences in very affordable ways.