True or False: The credit for many organisations’ digital transformation in 2020 goes to COVID-19?
With varying degrees of enthusiasm, virtually everyone has found themselves making the move online. Even in sectors like banking or engineering, where it previously seemed impossible, workplaces have drastically changed to enable their staff to work remotely.
The church is no exception, with services now taking place on a variety of online platforms from Zoom to Facebook, and small groups being held remotely. It has sparked countless innovations across different areas—from discipleship conferences to missions, and even songwriting.
However, this digital transformation journey was rarely easy. With an ever-evolving situation, it was a rush against time for literally anyone overseeing a group—not only to first familiarise themselves with the digital platform, but to get their team on board smoothly.
Despite the short runway of time, this team leader jumped straight into tackling this challenge. Ivan John Liew, Man of Impact1 Coordinator, digitally transitioned three of Cru’s The Significant Project (TSP) Ministry2 courses (The Significant Woman, Man of Impact and The Significant Couple) with over 80 participants, facilitators and staff almost seamlessly within 10 days.
1Man of Impact helps men to discover their mission and live a life of purpose, significance and impact.
2The Significant Project is a discipleship course that incorporates life-coaching methods along with facilitators and personal peer coaches to help participants discover their personal mission. We believe having a personal mission statement helps you stay grounded in what God has called you to do, and this influences every facet of your life.
Ivan John, bottom row left-most, together with a Man of Impact group
Zooming forward to the new normal
A staple of the TSP Ministry, the three courses had their first sessions on the week of 3 February. But between the first and second session, due to happen on the week of 17 February, was the sudden increase in clusters being found in churches.
“There was a sense I had that ministry needed to continue. Of course, we needed to follow government measures and I didn’t want to be a liability, but people were still signing up. Which means there’s something they are seeking out, something that they wanted to get from the course,” Ivan recalled.
He continued, “I really felt that we shouldn’t be held back by this. That we could try something new, a new way of doing the course and see how it turns out.”
With the support of the TSP team, all three courses started to make the transition online. The process was methodically broken down into two parts—with part one making sure that everyone was familiar with the technical aspects of using Zoom.
This started with course facilitators meeting over Zoom regularly for a time of prayer. They also moved all course updates through Zoom, and participants were asked to dial in before the next session to get comfortable with Zoom.
Man of Impact Zoom Session
Making heart connections online
Beyond the technical aspects, the main question that Ivan and the TSP team had to grapple with was:
How do we make sure participants have the best course experience they can through Zoom?
This led to part two—learning to effectively facilitate the course content through a new platform. Because the sessions are heavily facilitator-dependent, the facilitators had to go through some additional training sessions (via Zoom, of course).
Ivan explained, “My heart is really for participants to still be blessed. I would still want to retain that sense of connection, learning and self-discovery that our face-to-face sessions brought.”
Not only were they focused on training to facilitate content well, but perhaps more importantly, to build community—through creating an engaging environment, caring well and building relationships with participants.
For this, both TSP leaders and course facilitators had to commit to various Zoom practice sessions which entailed:
Looking back, Ivan shared, “I am so thankful for the dedication of our leaders and course facilitators. Everyone was on board and really ran with it.”
“It was not a small undertaking, getting everyone and all the technology ready within a short timeframe to continue on with another 8 sessions. For the first few Zoom sessions, me or a staff would be in every session to manage the Zoom set up—making sure everything ran smoothly, settle any technical issues and lend support to the facilitators.”
“We were the ever-ready tech support!” Ivan chuckled.
Tech support on standby
Being prepared for the next steps in ministry
“In hindsight, I think we were caught a little off guard. But because of the sense of urgency we felt, we managed to quickly act on it and found this new opportunity and approach in digital discipleship,” Ivan mused.
With the courses now approaching their final session (last week of May), Ivan and the TSP team have learnt that videos are crucial in bringing across points that would be otherwise difficult to online.
The team are now also thinking about future-readiness with ministry, in terms of better training for existing facilitators, and creating resources to train new facilitators.
“At the end of the day, this has been that push that all of us, not just the TSP ministry, have needed to use the technology we have to reach more people. How do we use this to take care of our own flock, but also others that can only be reached online? How can we use this to care for those that we can’t always physically reach?” Ivan reflected.
Ending off, he said, “God’s been speaking to me in this time, that we all just want a sense of relationship, that we still care for each other. Our hearts are healthiest in connection, so our aim is to connect well to God, and with each other.”
Deborah is passionate about capturing different perspectives to create relevant and impactful content. She enjoys meaningful conversations and collecting experiences, but also loves time spent just with a good book and cup of coffee.
As she breathed her last, Mandy’s mother told her, “Don’t cry for me.” So Mandy did just that. Growing up, Mandy was taught that “It’s a weakness to show emotions; we should thank God in every circumstance.” As she battled to suppress her grief, things took a toll on her.
We are now seeing more mid-career people join as full-time staff. This shift creates a wider pool of experience and perspectives among the staff family, which is helpful in propelling our work toward new, fresh directions to be more effective in changing times.
While our name was changed in 2013 to Cru Singapore, reaching the next generation remains a key focus of our work. What has changed though, is that our target audience has grown beyond campus.
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