10 Tips for Leading a Great Bible Study Group on Zoom

10 Tips for Leading a Great Bible Study Group on Zoom

As we face cancellations, alterations and modifications related to COVID-19, one bright spot has been the ability to use Zoom technology for Bible Study. Many people, of all ages, have been able to download and figure out Zoom on their smart phones, tablets or computers. By joining together, we find ourselves once again enjoying some fellowship and know that Jesus’ words, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am (Matt. 18:20),” is certainly true.

While Zoom is fabulous for helping us gather in a virtual room, the process of leading a study can present new challenges for the leaders. Here are some ideas to make things go smoothly:

1. Plan ahead- Schedule your Zoom meeting and send out the meeting ID and password a week ahead. I send mine out with the prayer request list that goes out the day after our meeting. I highlight the time, the ID and the password out of the complicated-looking list of phone numbers for access and other information.

2. Double check – Before your start time, send out an extra reminder. I learned the importance of this when I logged on one week just a few minutes early, only to find that somehow I had scheduled two meetings for the same group and had sent out conflicting times. The meeting went on as planned, but several people were not able to attend in the confusion.

3. Assign someone to be backup- When you send out your notice, send out the phone number for someone who can be a back-up tech person, helping folks who can’t get in the room or have forgotten how to turn on the video or audio. This can relieve interruptions and make the meeting feel less stressful for the other participants. Again, I started this process after receiving a text ten minutes into the Bible study from a member who was having trouble. Instead of pausing the meeting for everyone, I asked our tech person to call her and give her the necessary assistance.

4. Set up- Before you meeting, set up your space in the home where you will do your meeting. It helps not to have too much background clutter or a long view of the whole room. During this COVID-19 crisis, I have been surprised by all the national newscasters who have invited the nation into their dining rooms or living rooms. It’s interesting, but can be distracting! Also, set your computer up on a book or other elevated surface so that the camera is directed right at your face instead of capturing a less flattering shot going up from your chin. You might also consider the lighting and put a lamp in the room so that you have some indirect lighting. I have also added a couple of comforters on the back of chairs to help absorb extraneous sounds and echoes. Of course, turn off all the background noise, including the television in the other room. It is surprising how much of the background noise gets transmitted through Zoom. Also, consider asking your participants to mute themselves so that accidental sounds don’t distract everyone.

5. Consider your own appearance- Whether you are a man or a woman, it is time to spruce up a little! Dress up, do your make-up and hair, and put on some nice earrings and lipstick (ok, guys you all get a pass on this!). In fact, lipstick or lip lip balm has been shown to help make the speaker more easily understood.

6. Greetings- It helps if the host can be present a few minutes before the start time. In fact, I have started scheduling a 15 minute “chat” before our Bible study time, so that folks can gather, share news, tell funny stories, and work out tech glitches before we get into the Word. I also like to be on hand to greet everyone by name and have each person say something to get started. Having an opportunity to speak initially can break the ice and help folks participate more as the meeting continues.

7. Start as promptly as possible- People like to know what to expect. Starting on time respects their time and gives everyone a much-needed sense of structure during this time where many of us feel somewhat “off quilter.”
Assign prayers and readers ahead of time- One thing that makes a Bible study feel more normal is having different members of the group participate. By planning ahead, and asking people to read specific scriptures or say a prayer, the leader helps to eliminate down time during the meeting or conflicting voices talking.

8. Redundancy in notifications- When life is more normal, people know what to expect and don’t have to think so much about the details of gathering. When using a new app, most of us need an extra measure of grace and a little more time. We also need frequent reminders via several communication methods—Facebook, text and email. The leaders’ proactive approach can help minimize stress and open the group’s heart to hear God’s message for them.

9. Ask questions- Attendees to your Bible study may begin to disengage after a long period of just listening. Be sure and ask questions, hold your Bible up as you make a point, include your hands in the field of vision, and allow for strategic pauses.

10. Close well- Groups sometimes enjoy having a predictable ending to the meeting time. My group generally enjoyed saying The Lord’s Prayer together, but with Zoom that simply does not work because of echoes. We have adapted by finding other ways to end in prayer: using sentence prayers or having someone read a Psalm.

Whatever you do, groups will thrive and return regularly if they feel welcomed, heard and loved. As a leader, your preparation time and the energy you put into making things go smoothly matters just as much now —maybe more—than ever. COVID-19 is a terrible pandemic, but it is possible that some people who have never been able to attend a Bible study, may do so for the first time. The door of opportunity is open. Let us be ready to go through it.

COVID-19 Away Soup

In these days of spending more time in the kitchen, I came up with a recipe to scare COVID-19 away. Ok, it really doesn’t work that way, but it is still yummy! And easy!

Covid Away Soup:

2 onions, chopped and sautéed in olive oil until tender
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can cannellini beans
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 can Glory brand collard greens
1 carton of beef broth (or substitute vegetable broth for vegetarian )
1 t dried basil

Optional: You can also add chopped kielbasa sausage or other protein to onions and sauté together.

Joy Eastridge
March 2020

Also, if you need a new twist on an old staple, try these “heavenly” grits:

Pillow Cloud Grits

4 cups of water, boiling
1 cup instant grits
1 t salt
1/2 t cracked pepper
Hot sauce to taste
4 oz cream cheese, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup of provolone or other white cheese

Bring water to boil, add grits while stirring and add other ingredients. Turn to low and continue to stir for 5 minutes until thickened and done. Add salt to taste. Thin with a splash of milk or half and half if too thick.

Love in the Time of COVID-19

Rainbow in the window
A sign for children passing by
Hunting for hope
Wanting to cope
Fresh hearts meeting sadness
For the first time
Tender and young
They look up to us
With big eyes round
Brimming with questions
What is a germ?
What is a virus?
Will Covid go away?
Why can’t I play?
We stand taller
And square our shoulders
Hoping to transmit
Confidence we don’t feel.
We say, “It’s ok.”
We hear our own words
And want to believe
To trust in our Greater God.
Grasping a dimpled hand
Then the Secret Code:
Three squeezes for “I love you.”
Squeezing back four
“I love you, too.”
Love is enough.
For now.

Nurses and Bullying: 4 Things You Can Do

Nurses and Bullying: 4 Things You Can Do

Case study: Cindy was an older new grad. She went back to school after a long and successful career as a chemist, deciding that she wanted to be a nurse and explore other avenues of service for her “second half” of life. Capable and efficient in her first line of work, it was a shock to find herself as a novice where everything felt unfamiliar and where mastery was a ways off. Her first place of work was on a busy ortho floor. The second week at work, she called me crying. “Their expectations are so high. They keep threatening me.” I tried to listen without judging or offering advice, but something just seemed off. Every few days she texted or called and what she described didn’t seem like anything I had ever experienced as a nurse: where there should have been mentoring, there was censoring; where there should have been guidance, there was abandonment; where there should have been counseling, there was silence and isolation. The source of most of the problems was her preceptor, a young nurse, who my friend described and very physically attractive but unkind. As it turns out, she was a bully.

Nursing is not immune to bullying.

Nursing is not immune to bullying. While we would hope that in such a caring profession, we would find a greater percentage of people with compassionate care agendas, sadly there are also a number of practitioners who exhibit the characteristics of a bully: they are critical, negative, they isolate their victims, avoid meeting with them, and generally make life miserable.

According to a study by Etienne, “Bullying in the nursing workplace has been identified as a factor that affects patient outcomes and increases occupational stress and staff turnover.” (https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/216507991406200102)

The trouble with bullying is that it is often subtle and therefore difficult to recognize as such. While the playground bully may be overt and even violent, the adult bully is usually disguised under heavy layers of professional accomplishment and years of experience with manipulating others. They come in all shapes and sizes, both men and women, old and young. The “mean girls/guys” from 7th grade grow up, don’t they? But sadly, they sometimes don’t leave behind their old ways of treating others, and they bring those tactics with them when they put on their scrubs and head to the nursing workplace.

One of the primary manifestations of bullying is that the victim often feels that it is all his/her fault. After exposure to the bully’s tactics, they may even think to themselves, “If only I did this or that better, then they would not treat me this way.” The thought processes at the center of the bully/victim relationships can sometimes be lifted straight from our textbooks about abuse. Just as victims of domestic abuse many times blame themselves, nurses who are victims of bullying find themselves looking inward and wondering if there is something wrong with them.

What are some of the classic signs of a bully boss or co-worker? (https://www.yourerc.com/blog/post/20-subtle-signs-of-workplace-bullying)

Some more subtle signs:

Deceitful and manipulative- making promises but not keeping them or using promises to purposely disappoint.
Shaming and blaming- bullies want the victim to blame themselves.
Ignoring or undermining work- purposely “forgetting” to notify someone of meetings, belittling their work or accomplishments.
Intimidating and criticizing- setting impossible standards and even threatening.
Diversion and mood swings- bullies might avoid the victim so that the work issues cannot be resolved in a timely manner; and they are subject to widely varying moods (which boss/co-worker will be coming to work today? The sweet one or the nasty one?)

Overt bullying:

Aggression and intrusion- actual physical altercations with the bully entering your personal space.
Belittling, embarrassing and offensive communication- using their position to cause you harm, either physical, psychological or professional.
Coercion and threatening- pushing the victim to do things they don’t feel comfortable doing and using threats of termination or other punishment to get compliance with their demands.

So, if you or someone you know if being bullied in the workplace, what can you do?

Document- Keep a record of any threatening or inappropriate emails, texts or interactions. Should it become necessary to report the bad behavior, it will be important to have specific occurrences, words used, and frequency of episodes. Also, learn your workplace policies on bullying and what your recourses are.
Detach- Try to look at the occurrences in light of how this person treats others. Have you been “picked out” for special scrutiny? Bullies are sometimes bullies across the board but at times they pick out a few victims, zero in on those and treat others as allies, making the other staff members into (sometimes) unwitting accomplices for their own bad behavior.
Dare to Defy- Standing up to a bully is hard and practically can be impossible. Often, persistent bullying requires cutting our losses and moving on to another position. But adult and boss bullies—like those on the playground—can respond to pushback: maintaining eye contact, standing firm, ignoring or not acceding to their demands. This is harder to do than it sounds, because the victim of a bully at work frequently is not in a position to resist and finds themselves being jerked around by the perpetrator’s continually changing and escalating demands, whims and moods.
Defend- Be on the lookout for bullying behavior around you and if you see something, say something.

As for Cindy, in the end, she resigned after 3 months and went in search of another job—certainly not the route a new nurse wants to have on her resume—but a physical and psychological necessity given the bullying she experienced. After the rocky start, she went on to have an extremely successful career as a nurse and to find the profession a satisfying fit for her talents.

Have you witnessed bullying in your workplace? How have you been a victim of bullying?

The 500

500 or more
They stand
Strong and silent
By the flowing river
Of the Water of Life.
Their feet curl along the edge
Careful not to touch the crystal Water
For fear.
Of What?
Of giving in
To the tide of purity that sweeps over all?
To the water of life that answers every thirst?
They know in their heads
But not in their hearts
They see with their eyes
But not with their spirits.

Instead of joining the great flow
They resist.
Unwilling to give
Themselves to
The only Truth there is.
Pride holds them fast
Firmly rooting them in place
Along the dusty banks of life
Pursuing but never finding–
Even though it is right there,
All along.

Some dip their feet in
And splash around
Happy to have found
Some semblance of

Just a very few
Throw themselves in.
With abandon,
Never turning back.
They drink deeply of the Waters
They breathe it in,
Filling every thirsty crevice.
They turn to beckon their friends,
Joyfully urging them to taste and see
That the Lord is Good.
To drink from the well that never runs dry.

Guided and invited
The 500 come,
Inching forward
Still Afraid.
But buoyed by Hope
That friends profess:
The Water is sweet
There is a Gracious plenty.
Come and enjoy
True life.
Drink from the Source.

A Prayer After the 4th

A Prayer After the 4th

Oh God, Holy One.
Our nation has been seduced into
Thinking wrong is right
That wealth is might
That an unkind spirit wins
That justice belongs only to the rich.
We ignore the needs of the poor
By justifying our own selfishness,
Saying, “I have earned what I have,
Let them do the same”—
All the while disregarding the grace
That bring us to this place.
Turn our hearts away from pride.
Clothe us in humility and let us take stride
Behind the feet of our Master,
Imitating his Spirit and averting disaster
By being true children of Light
Who keep service in our sights.
Let us not be manipulated
But instead inundated
With the desire to see clearly
What you love so dearly:
Yes, Lord, Make America Great Again.
But this time in the ways that provoke a true Amen:
Great in service,
In Love,
In Righteousness
In Purity
In Compassion
In Inclusiveness
And in Kindness.
If our country truly is of Thee
And lives into its calling as a “Great Land of Liberty,”
Then let us sing,
Consciousness to bring,
That far we have strayed
From the way we were made.
So wave the flag proudly
For He is our Star
And by His stripes we are healed,
As we lift our hands to his glory
Our destiny will be fulfilled.

Joy Eastridge
July 2019