The ACTS Group recently ran a survey to determine how churches are handling this unprecedented time. One of the interesting points was the growth of online Bible study or small groups. Of those churches that participated in our survey, only 12.9% were doing any form of online Bible study prior to February 2020. Of that same group, 85% of are now offering an online study or group.
Many churches already leverage Microsoft 365, and have access to a tool called Microsoft Teams. Teams is a powerful communication and collaboration platform. Teams is designed to provide live interaction between members of a group, as well as asynchronous communications, such as threaded discussions. Teams can be used with guest users, as well as fully licensed 365 users. Knowing this, below outlines an example of using teams for a Bible study consisting of guest members as well as church staff.
Microsoft Teams is organized with teams and channels. A team is a top level group, and a channel is like a folder inside of that group. For a Bible study group, a team could be created for the name of the study or group, for example “Young Families”, a small group consisting of parents with young children. Inside this team, channels can be created for organization such as “Prayer Requests”, “Kitchen Table”, and “Study of James”. These channels allow for threaded asynchronous discussions, where members can leave comments on their own time, outside of a scheduled meeting – prayer request to come back to later, off topic items to discuss around the virtual kitchen table, and information specific to the study the group is going through. Content can include media files, text, eBooks, and more.
Members of the Bible study need to be added as guests in order to participate. A guest user in Teams can be added with just an email address, and the guest will need to sign up for a free Microsoft login.
Teams can be accessed from any platform, with native apps for iOS, Android, Mac, PC, and even Linux.
Church staff can be added to these groups too. Accounts in the Microsoft 365 organization will need a Teams license activated to use teams.
Now, live video or audio meetings can be scheduled for the team, as well as distribution of non-live content.
The Microsoft Teams platform provides some advantage over other communication tools by creating persistence of data outside of a live meeting, and the ability for a contained asynchronous discussion.
Another advantage of leveraging Teams for Bible study is that many churches already have Microsoft 365 tenancies, and this can be done at no additional cost to the church.
The ACTS Group is a Microsoft partner with experienced engineers able to help your church deploy teams in an effective way and be good stewards of the resources available. Reach out today for a free evaluation.