Another post about small groups. This one is about communication.
We all want to be on the same page.
There are times you need to contact all the members of a small group. Besides the usual things like sending out the schedule, passing along information about an upcoming social outing, party or service project; sometimes we need to communicate with each other if someone needs immediate prayer, or had a major life event occur, or to clarify something we have been talking about,...
Typically communication has been done in the past with emails. But recently I have found a lot of people don't check their personal email very often. I open my email and I get 30 junk emails and maybe 1 real one. Between checking my work email, and my personal email on my computer and on my phone, I quickly become overwhelmed. I try to unsubscribe to the legitimate companies who are advertising, but a lot of them are phishing emails. I don't even want to touch them. So I open my email and it is delete, delete, delete.
And anyone, and I mean anyone, who knows me knows I tend to get very wordy on my emails. I sent my kids some emails about a big trip we were taking and on the trip I said, "I sent you an email about this." and they said they don't read my emails. They are toooooo long. Eye opener.
I have found communicating with a small group to be challenging. "Oh I rarely check my email." "Oh I rarely go on Facebook."
Everyone these days is inundated with communication. We are all on overload.
So what is the best way to communicate? It might be a mixture of ways.
For instance if you want to send a document like the schedule, perhaps an email works best. It is quite easy to set up an email distribution list on your computer.
If you want to remind them what time the party starts tomorrow night, maybe a group text. You can go on your phone and create a distribution list or group and save it in your contacts. Then just a short text to them all, "Party tomorrow night 6:30pm!" Text messages should be short! Once you have the group in the first message, this same feed can be used for future messages. The disadvantage to texting a group is every time someone replies, your phone dings.
What I am trying this year is creating a Private Group on Facebook. I've tried this before, but back then not everyone was on Facebook and some weren't on it much. Now all of the women in my group are. This appears to be the best way to communicate with my group for several reasons.
First of all everyone has their phones with them and checks them frequently during the day.
If I post something or someone else posts something in our Private Group, we get a notification icon on our phones and go in and check it.
I can check and see how many people saw the post. It will say, 'Seen by 7' or 'Seen by Everyone.' So if someone hasn't seen an important post, I can text them the information or text them to tell them to look at it.
You can share pictures and videos of your group and people can save them if they want them.
Lastly in a Private Group, we have privacy.
I'm going to explain how to set up a Private Group on Facebook. Those of you who are savvy with computers and smart phones are rolling your eyes and going, "Duh!" But stop! There are a lot of people out there who don't know how to do this and will find this information useful.
On your computer screen go to your own profile.
On the right top corner of the screen to the right of your name is 9 dots. Click on it.
Click on "Create a Group."
Name Your Group. (I highly recommend having a name for your small group. One of ours was "Rachel's Hope", another was "Women in the Word", and now my women's group has a new name.)
Add Some People. Enter each member's name. (Obviously they must be on Facebook to do this.)
It used to be under privacy you had the options of Public, Closed Group and Secret Group. Facebook has changed this. They now have only two options - Public and Private. Your options under "Select Privacy" are:
Public - NO! Public means Anyone can can see the group, its members and their posts.
Private Group - means anyone can find the group and see who's in it. Only members can see posts.
Right beside where it says Select Privacy there is "Learn more about groups privacy." You may want to click on it and read.
Now click on "Create." It's easy-peasy!
Once you have created the group, go in and add a profile picture and wallpaper picture. Write a post saying you have created a Private Group and explain what that means.
Everyone who is a member of the group will get a notification about the group.
When you go to your Facebook Home newsfeed page on the left (on a computer) you will see the group under Shortcuts and you can just click on it to go to it. Or you can always search the name and it will come up (but have a good identifying profile picture for your members to recognize.)
I have already shared on our group's page a picture of the study book they need to buy before the first night, the schedule for our group, why a couple people can't join us this Fall. And I've seen everyone has seen my posts. They can post in the group too. And it is private!
When you click on the group you will see on the left (on a computer) "Members." If you click on this, it shows you all of the members. Say someone drops out of your group and you want to remove them. Click on the security icon to the right of their name and you have the option to Make them admin, Make them moderator, or Remove from Group. (You are the Admin because you created the group. I am not sure what Moderator means.) If you go to Remove someone from the group just click on Remove from Group and Confirm. It will take them off. If later, say for the next Bible study they want to rejoin the group, it is as easy as adding a member.
Caution: Do not block them. In another group someone accidentally got blocked and it is quite difficult to get them back in. I found if I changed the privacy of the group, I could re-invite them, get them back in, and re-change the privacy back to Private.
Effective communication can be challenging with any group. But I'm hoping the Private Group on Facebook will be more effective this year. Of course this only works if everyone is on Facebook.
At your first Bible study group meeting, talk about how you are going to communicate information to each other. If you have decided to go with the Private Group, have it set up before the first meeting and explain it to the members of your group.
From the get-go give them clear expectations how the group members can communicate with each other.
Fall is almost here. Bible study groups are forming all over the world.
Give one a try. They are life-changing!
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
Hebrews 10:23-25 NASB
*Updated 9/22/21 to change 'Secret' group to 'Private' group.