As we finish the 2020-2021 school year, we want to share with you some insights about hosting a school of supernatural ministry online. Over the next few months we will share some student’s experiences as well as our own, but first we want to share with you the basis of how we run an online school.
In 2017 Bethel Tech was launched, which set out to build a faith-based tech school — the first of its kind — that would equip believers with the most in-demand and hirable technology skills. All Bethel Tech students participate in weekly online revival groups, where we have seen incredible breakthroughs and testimonies as students interact and online. Bethel Leaders Network and BSSM Online have also seen many lives changed around the globe through online revival groups.
Over the years we have learned many valuable lessons, and we’d love to share them with you.
Keys to Successful Preparation
Communicating clear expectations early on will enable you to run a smooth and effective meeting and moderate the experience of students well. This may look like asking all students to keep video on, muting participants so one person can talk at a time, establishing a system for questions, encouraging students to celebrate others wildly, and to freely take risks. Communicate the core values of interaction and connection, following the Holy Spirit and that having fun is an indicator of success.
Welcome People by Name
Welcoming people by name and making observations of people and where they are shows engagement and that you know and care for your students.
Start with Engagement Right Away
Highlight someone and celebrate them (wave), or send all students into quick-connection breakout rooms at the start of a meeting. Statistically if someone says one word in the first five minutes of a meeting, it will increase their engagement by 80% for the rest of the meeting.
Be Strategic with Lesson Planning
Student feedback shows that Zoom experiences are rated much higher if content is shared in shorter segments, e.g. 15 minutes, and have more activations. Be conscious of sharing time and breakout room timeframes. If you want high engagement with breakout rooms and questions, having a rough class plan will help you set clear expectations and steer the class toward your desired goals for a breakout room or activation.
Tips for Engaging and Transformational Meetings
Both students and pastors equally need buy-in to this online forum, and we have seen this increase drastically when we cast vision in almost every group we lead.
A survey indicated that students enjoyed the riskiest “activations”, as well as the most individually-engaging connection groups. Interaction with what others are sharing can be boosted through the use of live chat, allowing space for students to share thoughts and teaching the “Zoom-wave” to see movement in the room, peoples hands and faces.
Often, great public speaking skills in-person do not translate to effective online communication etiquette. Humor and charisma can open up the room to gain students’ trust and raise anticipation, so don’t shy away from bringing your whole and authentic self, even in an online space. We have also found it helpful to remind pastors to be aware of facial expressions and body language that may not translate from in-person to an on-screen setting such as pacing, exaggerated hand gestures, or not being aware of their camera angle.
Invite Students into a Corporate Experience
Share what you are feeling, describe it, and ask the room what they are sensing. Pulling others in to encourage or share in a corporate moment will increase student talk time and create memorable moments. Posing great questions is another fantastic tool to make big forums feel like an intimate exchange and get student’s engaging in a dynamic way with the class content.
Be bold in taking a moment to highlight a person, breakthrough or significant moment. Pausing in the presence and recognizing the anointing shift can get the group to celebrate and draw the entire Zoom-room into a moment. You need to model how to celebrate people and moments, so when a great moment happens – pause, get the room to wave, and celebrate the person or moment of bravery, anointing, risk, etc. – and ask students to reflect on the shift they encountered in the room. If you model this, after a few weeks, it will happen spontaneously. What you celebrate will define your culture.
Engage the Quiet Observers
We have found that speaking directly to a quiet student or asking a person-specific question is a winning way to both optimize the Zoom forum and empower shy students to share their experiences corporately and become more involved.
Optimizing Zoom Features and Limitations
Video on / Audio Off
We have found when students have their video off, they are hiding. The meeting and tech host can mute all, when you need to, this eliminates distracting noise. When someone wants to respond they can use the “raise hand” feature and you can call on them.
We call this the “Bethel Tech Wave.” It’s where we have the students wave their hands back and forth when they want to agree with or emphasize something. Because of the limitations of Zoom, we can’t hear everyone cheer at the same time or shout “amen,” “come on,” etc. We can, however, see the movements of the people and their smiles.
Interaction is gold. In every meeting you should have a breakout room session.
The chat box allows questions to get posted, students to shout out, and private messages to happen. When leaders walk into the room, they often greet people, but you can do this via private chat. This is an excellent way to boost student engagement and answer questions in a big forum.
Gallery View / Speaker View
You will want to use Gallery View to see each participant. In Gallery View you can only view 25 participants at once (unless you have a i7 CPU you can enable 49 participants at once), so you need to scroll between screens to see everyone engaging.
Recommended Meeting Roles
This is also known as a “tech host.” This person is responsible to admit new participants, set up breakout rooms, troubleshoot audio/video issues, etc. Make sure your Zoom meeting settings are set to mute participants when they enter a meeting. This will help keep order in a Zoom call. By having a tech-host, the main speaker is free to engage with students and deliver content rather than being distracted by continual tech interruptions in the meeting.
This person will be the main speaker, teacher or presenter in a class.
Student’s roles are to receive and participate. You can ask students to raise their hand or use the “raise hand” feature to indicate that they have a question or insight. The chat box is also a key part of the class for students.
As you explore what your school can look like online, we want to share this testimony with you:
“Just wanted you to know last week when watching one of the BSSM videos where the BSSM director couple were calling out various dysfunctions in bodies, although mine wasn’t called out, I decided to receive what God was doing in that time anyways. I have had this dizzy sensation for months when lying down on the floor on my back to exercise or turning over in bed and God healed me of that sensation! I’m able to lie down and exercise, get up, turn over in bed, and NO dizziness! I’m still thanking Jesus for making possible this marvelous healing in my body!”
We bless you to step out into new and exciting technologies and discover how great God is! Remember, “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord,” (Romans 8:38-39) and we’re convinced that means online as well!