All of us want to be known and loved. The COVID-19 crisis has exposed humanity’s deep need for relational connection.

Now more than ever, your church’s success will be defined by the depth of the relationships you can build–not by the quality of your Sunday live stream.

Without the ability to meet in-person, how can your church develop a thriving, robust small group strategy?

In this week’s Church Revitalization Podcast Live, A.J. and I did a deep dive into two tools your church can use to build a thriving small group ministry. Best of all, your church’s investment can be as little as $15 per month. That’s a win!

You can stream the audio version below, or watch the full Live replay on Facebook or YouTube.

Use Zoom to Host Meetings

You’ll need to purchase (at least) one Pro account–which costs $14.99/mo plus tax.

Once you have a paid account, you can set up regular meeting times for groups, with the Pro account as the “host.” What’s nice about Zoom is if you plan one meeting time for all of your groups (say, Wednesday at 6:30pm), you’ll be able to have 100 participants in that meeting and you can split them up into up to 50 “breakout rooms.”

Put simply, if all of your small groups are meeting at one time, they can all log in to the same meeting, using the same link, and then be split up into smaller groups.

If you are a larger church and would have more than 100 participants, you may need to purchase more than one paid account–or, stagger your meeting times across multiple days to maximize your one paid account.

Watch this video to see how to set-up breakout rooms:

Watch this video to see how breakout rooms work within a Zoom meeting:

Use the Band App to Build Community

Some churches will prefer to set up private Facebook Groups for their small groups. This is a viable option for many churches and will have an interface that many are familiar with using.

However, the Band App is a great alternative to using Facebook Groups for virtual small groups. First, many people don’t want to be on Facebook due to privacy concerns or mere preference. Using the Band App allows people to engage in an online group experience without being forced into a social media platform. Secondly, the Band App has multiple features that Facebook Groups do not. These features, such as the Sign-Up Sheet feature and the To-Do List feature may prove especially valuable for facilitating group care.

Watch this video to see how the Band App works:

Start Enrolling Newcomers Now

The need for community is greater now than ever before. Many churches have already developed a plan for their existing groups. However, this is not enough.

Your church is likely reaching hundreds (or thousands) of people through their reach on Facebook. You need to expand your groups strategy to start recruiting new people for groups.

If approximately 50% of your average worship attendance is part of a group (that is now meeting virtually), that means 50% aren’t in a group. They’re lonely. They’re separated from the relational care they need. Add on top of this the “new” people who are discovering your church online each week.

Begin to develop on-ramps for the relationally isolated to join your virtual small groups.


Scott Ball is the Director of Services and a Lead Guide with TMG. He lives in East Tennessee with his wife and two children. (Email Scott)