In the past three years, the church's in-person gatherings have been interrupted from time to time due to the pandemic. In order to continue pastoral care, many group fellowships have started online services. Taking a church in a city in northern Jiangsu as an example, the shepherd of a youth fellowship uses the internet platform to form WeChat study groups to conduct Bible studies.
Traditional group study is limited by time and space and cannot cover many aspects. WeChat groups have no limit on time and space so believers can learn anytime and anywhere. With the playback function, believers who do not participate in online learning can play back at any time to catch up with others in Bible studies.
At the same time, the fellowship leader also understands the individual ability of each group member and will formulate customized learning plans according to their individual needs. For example, believers with lively and active personalities will be arranged as the host or lead readers in the group, while the believers with quiet personalities will focus more on their ability of prudence and analysis.
While focusing on "teaching" and "learning" in WeChat group courses, the pastor also emphasizes “practice”, guiding believers to participate in practices, such as leading believers in taking Bible study notes and encouraging believers to write spiritual articles and publish them on platforms such as WeChat official account or Meipian (a Chinese we media platform). In the process, the pastor would give inspiration and appropriate suggestions. In the practice, the pastor should have the courage to let believers try and make mistakes. By making mistakes, they can learn from their failures.
In cultivating believers' self-learning ability, the pastor should stimulate their desire to learn. For the vast majority, the decisive factor is that pastors should create a situation similar to scientific research in their Bible study activities so that believers can discover problems and seek answers through their own perception, observation, and operation. During a Bible study, believers learn to collect, think about, and judge all kinds of information through active experience. This will promote their thinking, practice, and creativity so that believers can have a comprehensive understanding of Bible knowledge and spiritual life practice.
During this period, pastors should develop believers’ habits of self-management, and believers can make a plan for their own learning situation and progress. Believers will record and manage themselves, while pastors only give suggestions and opinions when appropriate. This is reading self-management, which cultivates believers' initiative and autonomy in learning.
The Bible study WeChat group can have communication and study without the limitations of time and space and can also extend the study to real life and belief practice. Believers can learn and analyze from multiple angles and dimensions and have a wider theological cognitive scope. In addition, believers can be encouraged to participate in a series of theological bible studies to form a systematic and solid foundation of faith.
- Translated by Oliver Zuo