This week, my friend Reid Smith asked me if I had any thoughts on how technology could support community. I started jotting down some ideas and before long had quite a list! In fact, we’ll split it into two posts. Here goes…
Technology can revolutionize routine communication. A Facebook page (and messages to fans) can keep announcements, time changes, common goals, etc. in front of everybody…all at once. If your group isn’t Facebook friendly, though, you’ll lose some folks. They still need to check it…It doesn’t automatically come to them. Good old e-mails, though, go right to them. As long as they pay attention, they’ll get the message.
An example: Share prayer requests ahead of your group meeting by jotting the request in an e-mail (tweets work, too) and sending out to the group. The act of committing requests to writing forces brevity, saving much time (and rambling) when the group gathers. You can always add last-minute requests and updates, but the group can concentrate on prayer, not just taking requests. Assign someone to compile requests and keep track of resolutions (answers to those prayers) as they come in.
Tweets (twitter.com) are great for keeping momentum up between meetings. Frequent real-time prayer requests and responses keep group members in each other’s minds and hearts. You can also cut “check-in” time (“what’s going on in your life since our last meeting?”) in half if members are following each other’s tweets. The discussion shifts from the background narrative (routine stuff) to specifics (“Hey, I prayed when I saw that Tweet. How did it turn out?”).
A public blog is great for sharing general info about group studies and outreach projects. Everyone can contribute as an author (multi-author blog) or at least leave comments (single-author blog). Point potential new members, other leaders, and even your coach to your group’s blog so they can see what you are doing and be encouraged to join, copy, or promote your activities.
A private blog lets you share more personal thoughts and maintain accountability without the fear of “going public.” Our small group used the Soul Revolution site for this when we did that study together.
The more frequently group members hang out informally, the better. GPS-enabled smartphones make this easy if you want to track each other and grab a coffee, etc. Want to gather daily, like the Acts 2 church? There’s an App for that!
YouVersion and other online Bible-reading applications make it easy to maintain a common reading plan for the group. It’s one more way to keep your group on the same page, encourage each other, apply scripture together, and hold each other accountable.