As people make the switch to digital or begin to add digital as an option, lessons are being learned that can help all of us better understand some best practices when it comes to the use of digital resources.
Make provisions for those who want print resources. This may be a shock, but not everyone wants a digital version of their Bible study resources. It is not easier for them nor is it how they study best. We need to recognize that and make it possible for people to study in the way that most helps them.
Let people make the choice. Classes may decide they want to go all digital or decide they want to go all print. Some leaders may want to go digital while the class or group uses print resources (the most common scenario). Involve the people who are impacted by the decision impacts in the decision making process and listen to them.
Communicate the value of both print and digital resources. Messages like “if you still want the print version” can be interpreted as disparaging when we did not intend to belittle or slight. Helping people know that they have options that best fit their needs is a better approach and one that will save you some heartburn along the way.
Maintain the discipline of personal contacts. The temptation is to send an email and be done. We are relational and need interaction. If we fail to provide interaction, people will go somewhere else for that interaction. Even if we go all digital, we must double our efforts to maintain personal contacts through regular phone calls and face-to-face visits.
Include emails and cell phones on forms. If we use digital resources, we must have a way to deliver them especially to guests. Including email and cell numbers on any forms a guest may be asked to complete becomes even more important. We may need to make sure we have the means to provide them with the link on the spot so they can participate in the class (or provide them a printed version when they are a guest). We will also need to make sure the emails we have for those already involved in a class or group are accurate and their preferred email.
Provide leaders with a variety of resources knowing they will not use everything every week. We want our teachers and leaders to have what they need to prepare. One advantage of the Plus subscriptions in Ministry Grid is we can provide them with several extra items they can turn to if they get stuck or just need a fresh idea.
Send weekly emails at the same time each week. The Ministry Grid system will do some of this for you, but you will also want to send a personal message just from you. There are two reasons for this. On our side, it helps us create a routine that becomes a part of what we do. We need the discipline. The people receiving the emails also get accustomed to looking at their inbox at that time as well. We may also need to ask the class and group participants when they typically check their email to determine the best time for sending weekly emails..
You can find out more about using Lifeway’s new digital delivery system here (lifeway.com/digitalstudies).