Leading Men’s Small Groups – Virtual Meetings (as a Response to COVID-19) [Updated with Anti-Zoombombing Information]
It is imperative that we recognize what our enemy is trying to do in the midst of this turmoil and fear.
...so that we may not be exploited by Satan (for we are not ignorant of his schemes). (2 Corinthians 2:11 NET)
He is attempting to separate and isolate those that are in relationships with church members, accountability groups, and other individuals. An isolated Christian is like a lump of burning coal that is removed from the fire and set aside – it will quickly cool off!
Be sober and alert. Your enemy the devil, like a roaring lion, is on the prowl looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8 NET)
They were scattered because they had no shepherd, and they became food for every wild beast. (Ezekiel 34:5 NET)
Many Groups have stopped meeting together in their normal locations. This is understandable and we should all appreciate what our government is doing to protect us. However, we cannot simply be passive during this time. History tells us that those that pro-actively make a plan have far better results than those that do nothing.
And let us take thought of how to spur one another on to love and good works, not abandoning our own meetings, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and even more so because you see the day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24,25 NET)
Therefore, we strongly encourage you to continue to reach out to the members of your church, group, and other individuals regularly for ongoing support and accountability.
Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, just as you are in fact doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NET)
One way to stay connected is via video call conferencing and while this may seem complicated it is not.
Below are listed three options of the many that are available:
1) Zoom Video Call ( Zoom Support during the COVID-19 pandemic) (1)
Zoom is a simple, cloud-based video conferencing platform that can be used for live, small group meetings. The group leader will need to sign up for a free account HERE. The members of the group do not have to have an account to attend. With the free version of Zoom, users can hold an unlimited number of meetings, but group meetings with multiple participants are capped at 40 minutes in length, and meetings can’t be recorded. You can see a brief tutorial HERE.
Zoom recently implemented several important updates to help make your meetings more private and secure. The most visible change is a new meeting control called Security (available on Zoom for Windows and Mac) which simplifies how hosts can find and enable many of Zoom’s in-meeting security features. Read more about the Security icon update on the Zoom support page.
Zoombombing Prevention Information from Zoom (1)
2) Google Hangouts Video Call
Go to hangouts.google.com or on the sidebar in Gmail. Select a person from the Hangouts list or search for their name or email address. When you find the person you want, click their name. You can also check multiple people to start a group video call. Click Video call
When you’re done, click End call
You can see a brief tutorial HERE.
3) Conference Call on your Cell Phone
Place a call on your iPhone. From the in-call menu, tap Add Call. While you dial the second number, the first call will be placed on hold. Once you have the other person on the line, tap Merge Calls to connect everyone. Repeat steps two and three to add other people to the conference. You can see a brief tutorial HERE. (2)
Rules of Engagement
Rules of meeting engagement or “meeting norms” are stated standards that refer to processes, preparation, and communication practices that can apply to any meeting. Virtual meetings may have some specific norms, such as:
- Use the technology that is most accessible to everyone on your team.
- Test your technology before the meeting and resolve any technical issues.
- Use a phone line or internet connection with audio clarity and stability.
- Do not multi-task (do other work) during the meeting.
- Follow an organized line-up to ensure each person has a chance to respond.
- Find a quiet space to participate.
- Use the mute button at your site to prevent transmitting background noise.
- Speak up to get attention if you have something to say.
- Turn on your video whenever possible and be camera-ready.
- You can use a virtual background if utilizing Zoom software.
Meeting norms should be shared with your agenda at the top of your meeting, used to reinforce different behaviors, help you improve your virtual meeting process, and should be a short list of no more than six. Meeting norms should be co-created and discussed with your team because for them to work, everyone has to own them. (3)
Recall the words of our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ:
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come so that they may have life, and may have it abundantly. (John 10:10 NET)
Remember for yourself:
Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will trouble, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we encounter death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”No, in all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us! For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor heavenly rulers, nor things that are present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35–39 NET)
I am able to do all things through the one who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13 NET)
Last, but not least:
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Corinthians 13:13 NET)
(1) Left-click on the underlined phrase to open another article in a different tab with more explanation.
(2) Adapted from Response to COVID-19, Kingdom Works Studios
(3) 9 Best practices for engagement in virtual meetings by Beth Kanter