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Hosting an Online Group

How To Host An Online Group

New to hosting a group online? An online group is an incredible tool to help people connect with each other when an in-person group may not be possible. You can encourage each others faith, share authentically, and watch God work in ways you may not have dreamed possible.

Your first few meetings will take some adjusting as everyone gets acquainted with the technology and the format and works out all of the kinks.

So don’t give up too quickly if your first few meetings are a bit of a challenge.

As you look into launching a group online, or having your group try it out for a week, this page will help you figure out the technology to use, best practices for a good online experience, and what a typical group meeting might look like.

Have questions? Contact our LifeGroup team at HERE. We’d love to help!

CLICK HERE FOR AN INSTRUCTION EMAIL TEMPLATE TO SEND TO YOUR GROUP

 

TECHNOLOGY

  • ZOOM

    • If you feel like you need more than the free version of Zoom (40 minute time limit to meet), contact us (lifegroups@mymillcreek.com) and we will be glad to provide you with the full version for as long as we need to do so.

    • How To Use:

  • FACEBOOK MESSENGER GROUPS

    • Pros: Free. Accessible via web browser on computer. Can access without a facebook account. (If you don’t have a facebook account you’ll need to download the app to your phone and use phone number.)

    • Cons: Phone-in option not available.

    • Capacity (50 participants/Devices: 6 video, 44 audio)

    • How To Use:

      • Open facebook messenger on web browser or mobile app

      • Login (with facebook account or phone number)

      • Click “New Message” button to add facebook friends to group chat (see image below)

      • After adding contacts, click the “Video Call” button to start video chat. (see image below)

      • Watch 2 minute tutorial. 

BEST PRACTICES/ONLINE ETIQUETTE

  1. Recommend group members to download meeting software prior to meeting.

  2. Make sure your face has sufficient lighting.

    • Lighting works best in front of your face, not behind.

  3. Make sure your face is centered in the video camera.

    • We don’t want to see your forehead, or neck, or miss you all together.

    • Position the camera to eye level or slightly above.

  4. Select the quietest room/location you can find.

    • Turn off anything making noise in the background (TV, radio, appliances).

    • Put pets in a different room or have them in a place where they will be most quiet.

    • Places like a coffee shop or restaurant can work but sometimes background noise can be an issue. Noise canceling headphones can help with this.

  5. Only use one device per household.

    • When two devices are used in one location it produces feedback (really annoying noises).

  6. Mute your computer unless you’re talking.

    • If everyone’s microphone is turned on at the same time, the sound quality can be an issue and it can be hard to hear the person who is talking. So the best policy is to mute yourself when you are not talking.

    • If you are muted, make sure to nod your head and listen well so people can recognize you are following them.

    • You will be muting and unmuting A LOT, so get used to it.

    • Also, you’ll get called out if you don’t unmute, so don’t be offended.

    • Or maybe, the moderator will mute you, so don’t take that personally.

  7. Be an assertive moderator.

    • The moderator/host of the group will need to be welcoming and in charge. Make sure as host you jump on a few minutes early to welcome everyone.

    • Redirect the conversation or mute participants as necessary. This may feel rude but is necessary to manage a good online experience.

    • The moderator should talk 20% of time and listen 80% of time.

  8. Create a plan for participants to indicate they’d like to talk.

    • You may try something like raising a hand, answering in a specific order, or another signal.

    • Since participants will often be muted, having a plan will help you know when to mute and unmute.

  9. Give full attention, don’t multitask.

    • When participants are not paying full attention it can be a big distraction online just like an in-person group.

    • When talking, spend some time looking at the camera, not just the screen.

  10. Stay in touch afterwards.

    • Assign prayer partners to call each other after after group is over and pray with them.

    • Or text each other in gender specific text chats to share requests.

    • Leverage GroupMe, Facebook Groups, WhatsApp, etc. as a place to stay connected and keep the conversation going throughout the week.

FORMAT/SCHEDULE

  • Practice Session/First Meeting (30 minutes)

    • It can be helpful to have a 30 minute practice session together, or take the first half of your first online group get everyone acquainted with how an online group will work.

    • Review online etiquette/best practices (listed above). You may want to review some of these talking points the first several meetings until people figure it out.

    • Help people learn how to use the technology and answer any questions.

    • If you are a new group, make sure to introduce yourself, share you name, and share how you got connected with Northridge and the online group.

    • End by sharing prayer requests; have 1 person pray.

  • Typical Meeting (45-60 minutes)

    • Connect - 15-20 minutes

      • Welcome people as they login (people tend to arrive late online, just like in-person groups).

      • Begin ice breaker.

    • Discuss - 30-40 minutes

    • Wrap Up - 5 minutes

      • Ask for any prayer requests.

      • Have 1 person wrap up in prayer.

      • Encourage people to text each other afterwards for further prayer requests and to pray together. (Prayer Ideas: men’s group text, women’s group text, whole group text, prayer partners.)

Further questions, Contact the LifeGroup Team Here!