International (MNN) – There are more than 6.9 billion Christians worldwide. What if believers could join together in fellowship outside of their own countries and communities? Sammy Tippit Ministries is encouraging believers to do just that by combining small groups and technology.
As of 2011, The Pew Research Center estimated 37 percent of Christians resided in the Americas and 26 percent were in Europe. The remaining 24 and 13 percent hail respectively from Africa and the Asia Pacific region. Read more here.
Small groups typically revolve around local communities and churches, but technology is opening a window of connection.
Fellowship Through Technology
The program is based on Whatsapp, a free messaging, video, and voice application. Sammy Tippit Ministries provides daily videos, resources and training for small-group leaders to share. It’s up to the group leader to form and operate the group.
“We’re not providing the technology but we’re taking already existing technology and taking small groups and saying ‘form those groups where you can actually communicate on a daily basis,’” said Founder Sammy Tippit.
He doesn’t see these virtual groups as replacements for in-person small groups. The groups are intended for believers who are separated by distance to supplement traditional weekly in-person gatherings.
Believers Beyond Boarders
“This enables us to cross borders. It enables us to cross language barriers. And so the barriers that keep us from helping others to grow in Christ are broken down through…incorporating technology into the whole small group concept,” Tippit says.
An app can connect believers in different countries, states, and continents for weekly or daily fellowship. Even with language barriers, modern translation software can help support communication.
Currently, a group of believers in China who are unable to meet physically are using these resources to meet weekly for devotions and prayer.
Enhancing Local Connections
For those looking to support a local small group, the app can help maintain daily fellowship. Tippit encourages users to form a small group at their local churches. He plans to offer leadership training in addition to daily resources. These can support weekly in-person fellowship.
“Take technology, add that technology to those human small groups, and enable a more effective discipleship,” he says.
How to Get Involved
The project signup and kick off in mid-January is quickly approaching. Believers interested in starting their own groups or supplementing existing ones can find out more via Facebook where devotions are available every day and on the ministry website.
Pray for wisdom among those considering starting a small group and the relationships established through it.