St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Livermore, California has a vibrant, bustling community. As a result, they’re one of the most active users of Flocknote out there, and also one of the most innovative. Late last year, St. Michael’s decided to try an experiment: Facilitate an online Bible study for parishioners who can’t make it to (or would rather not participate in) a weekly in-person study.
Using programs provided by Ascension Press, Tina Gregory, St. Michael’s Director of Communication, has developed a robust and successful program that, for the program’s participants, has been extremely edifying.
“I really like that I can kind of [participate in the weekly lesson] on my own time,” said study subscriber Paige Cecil. “Even though there are some scheduled things and deadlines, I like that it gives me flexibility.”
In addition to physical workbooks, Tina makes a point of taking full advantage of the ability to have subscribers post comments and engage in discussions.
The setup goes like this:
- On Wednesdays, Tina sends an email including the week’s video lesson, a short summary, and a reminder of which workbook pages will be used that week.
- On Saturdays, subscribers receive an email with some reflections and discussion questions related to what Tina calls “head knowledge,” or the more academic bits that stood out in that week’s lesson. The leader shares in the body of the note, and participants share in the comments.
- Finally, on Mondays Tina offers a chance to share “heart knowledge,” or the more relational aspects of growth in one’s relationship with Christ. Like Saturday’s notes, the leader shares in the body of the email, while participants share in the comments.
The folks at St. Michael’s just recently completed their second study, having covered topics on both the Virgin Mary and the Mass for eight and five weeks, respectively. A third study, called “Unlocking the Mystery of the Bible” is slated to start in mid-April.
For those considering starting something similar with their church’s Flocknote network, Tina passed on a few things that have helped make the studies a success:
- Personal invitations to join: This, along with a dialog on how it’s going to work, goes a long way to encouraging more participants.
- The “get vulnerable” method: Having the leader go first in opening up to something real gives permission for the participants to also get real in their comments. It also brings the study out of just an academic pursuit (which can be had just by watching the videos and reading the book) and into a small community journeying together.
- Super-duper clear structure: This allows participants to know in advance what will be expected of them, how frequently, and for how long.
- Giving “value added” content: Instead of an email full of only text, St. Michael’s has made sure to include things like a nice, inspiring image, or a link to an external resource, in addition to the week’s material.
- Responding personally to comments and answering questions! Ultimately, it’s all about relationship.
Have you or your church done something really creative through Flocknote? If so, leave us a comment and tell us more! You might just be the subject of our next “Flocknotable.”