Online Discipling When Live Is Impossible

There is no substitute for live social interaction–even online discipling. You cannot pat someone on the back or hug them by phone, online, or by mail. Eye contact is impossible by phone, text, email, or mail.

Knowing that, what can be done when circumstances prevent discipling in person? As a nation and world, we are in the midst of the COVID-19 virus (Coronavirus) pandemic. CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has discouraged groups of 50 or more from meeting–in order to reduce spreading the virus.

That impacts churches. If worship does not happen in person, groups are usually cancelled as well. And fear often rules. Sometimes the leader has to travel or the disciple is sick. My question in this day of technology is why cancel?

Online Discipling

There are tons of methods for connecting when you cannot meet in person. Consider some of the following ideas:

  • Calls/conference calls (for individuals less techno-savvy) can enable Bible study to be taught with Q&A or discussion, announcements, and prayer together;
  • Facebook Live and YouTube Live can enable the group leader to pray, share announcements, and share Bible study; while this is one-way communication, it can be supplemented by text to receive prayer requests and Bible study questions/comments;
  • Zoom, GoToMeeting, Google G Suite, and others can enable groups to see and hear each other and tend to work best for smaller groups if there will be much interaction; they offer chat during video which allows written prayer requests, announcements/reminders, and lesson questions/comments (the video link and the chat conversation can be emailed to those who missed it);
  • Facebook Groups and other social media can provide posting of lesson outlines, questions, and discussion along with announcements and prayer requests;
  • Text generally works best with really small groups (2-4) and short texts; if the group or texts gets larger, then participants won’t have enough time to read what is texted.

Again, I am not advocating online discipling in place of live meeting in person. But your group can meet online when special holidays or circumstances mean that meeting live in person will not take place (such as Christmas, etc.). A small group could still meet online when a group leader or host has to travel. A D-group could still meet online when a discipler is out of town. And these ideas can also work for the sick, traveling, etc. to join when the rest of the group is still meeting live in person.


Do you have additional experiences, resource suggestions, or ideas you could share? Press Leave a Comment to share. Don’t stop meeting just because you can’t meet live in person. Make disciples. Be revolutionary!

Picture from opening Zoom app.

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