How to Promote Community
Or: How do I connect with people if we're all in different rooms?
Living in a world of social isolation has brought about a difficult challenge - in a virtual world, how do we promote community, fellowship and love for our neighbours? Gathering together weekly and hearing from God's word provides an exciting opportunity for us to promote a loving community by focusing on and strengthening the relationships that already exist within our faculties.
Here are some ideas to help you think about how we can use our weekly gatherings to promote community.
Change your group size frequently
Making good use of breakout rooms - Dividing the whole group into breakout rooms is a great way not just to facilitate discussion but also to form more personal connections that aren't possible in a large, faculty-sized zoom call. So - how will you use them? Large or small? Groups of 10, 5 or 3? You could vary the people in discussion rooms from week to week so people get to know a range of their faculty members. You could allocate ten minutes at the end of every session to dividing into groups of the same 2-3 people each week just to catch up and check-in. You could spend that time in prayer. Maybe you prefer no breakout rooms at all. Breakout rooms are a versatile tool at your disposal and can help promote community in more ways than one.
Spend time in one another's presence
Chilling out after your gathering (or 'running an afterparty') - Why does the fun have to stop when the discussion is over? Let your faculty know they can stay on the zoom call after the 'formal' part of the gathering ends just to hang out, and leave it open for casual chats or online games. That way you can have dedicated (but optional) time just for letting your faculty get to know each other informally - think of it as a virtual arvo tea, except without the food and probably not in the arvo (if your gathering happens at night, you might like to organise hanging out before the gathering rather than after, or maybe both). One thing's for sure - nothing brings people together like a good game of skribbl.io. Please see our additional posts for some ways we've found that you can socialise online.
Notice and care when people are missing
Checking up on people who don't come - Marking your faculty's attendance allows you to see at a glance who's coming regularly to your gatherings, who's missing out every other week and who's just not coming at all. Checking up individually (through private messaging or a phone call) on people who don't come regularly can be a great way to encourage them to come, and to let them know that they're valued as part of your community.
Remember that these aren't requirements - they're ideas to help you get started on thinking about how you can adapt your faculty gathering to the online space, and for your faculty's particular needs and tastes. In this new, virtual space, how will you promote an open, loving community for your faculty?