|I just have to tell you about
this one! Not long ago, my husband, Dr. Stephen Schwambach, pastor of a mega
church in Evansville, Indiana, launched an online phenomenon called Zgroups.
I joined one and it is absolutely fabulous. The FAQ below should answer all your questions: ZGROUPS
Growing at the speed of Light
Q: What's a Zgroup?
A: It may be the most exciting way to get together for Bible study since people seeking to know God started meeting in one another's homes 2,000 years ago.
Q: What's so different about it?
A: Well, for one thing, we meet totally by E-mail.
Q: What's the advantage of an E-mail group?
A: Bottom line? Incredible freedom - there's no set time to meet, so everybody can join in whenever they want, regardless of schedule. You can dip in or dip out, as often or as little as you like.
Q: What do you do in a Zgroup?
A: Each week we're E-mailed a list of discussion questions intended to spark lively debate on some subject that helps us get to know God, ourselves and the Bible better. We also share prayer requests and try to be there for each other. If we've got a question or a problem, somebody in the group always seems to have an insight or be willing to offer a piece of helpful advice.
Q: Why would anyone be willing to open up like that to a group of strangers?
A: That's just the point - the anonymity seems to free everybody up. By contrast, face-to-face groups typically take a long time to thaw. In Zgroups, however, even normally shy people have been known to open up in minutes, rather than months.
Q: How does a Zgroup meet?
A: Any member of the group can start an Instant Meeting at any time of the day or night, by E-mailing a question, comment, Scripture, quote or prayer request to the other members of the group. The length of the "meeting" might be a single sentence, a paragraph or a page. When the other group members check their E-mail, the Instant Meeting "happens" for them.
Q: Wow - that means I can meet with my group while I'm relaxing at home, during my lunch break at work, when I'm sick, on vacation - even when my car's in the shop. No transportation hassles. No scheduling conflicts. No limitations of any kind. Are you saying I can literally meet whenever it's convenient for me?
Q: What if I'm not in the mood to meet for a while - or simply too busy to respond to someone else's E-mail?
A: You're in charge. Participate a little or a lot - it's totally up to you.
Q: Are you allowed to invite your friends and acquaintances to your Zgroup?
A: Absolutely. That's the fun of it. You're encouraged to invite everybody you meet. The more, the merrier. There's always room for one more.
Q: Do I have to get permission before I invite someone?
A: No! Anyone you invite is 100% welcome, anytime. Just introduce them to the others by E-mailing their profile to the group - and they're automatically in!
Q: What's a profile?
A: It's a simple way of introducing you to the group without compromising your privacy. Your profile contains your first name, E-mail address, sex, age, marital status, city/state/country and whether you're a seeker or a believer. You are, of course, free to add anything else you wish, including prayer requests.
Q: What do you mean by a seeker?
A: A seeker is someone who is interested in God and the Bible, but who has not yet put their complete faith in Jesus Christ.
Q: How do you define a believer?
A: A believer is a person who has placed their faith in Jesus Christ alone for eternal life.
Q: So...if all us seekers and believers are free to invite anyone we want, couldn't our group grow really fast?
A: Yes - maybe almost as fast as small groups did 2,000 years ago at the birth of the Christian Church. The Bible says they grew daily (Acts16:5).
Q: What will we do when our group gets full?
A: One of the most exciting things about Zgroups is the birthing of new groups. As soon as we reach 12 in our group, the assistant leader invites about half of the group to join them in birthing a new group.
Q: How long does it take for that to happen?
A: It all depends on how many of the group members invite their friends - and how many they invite! Some groups birth in a week, others take several months. The typical healthy Zgroup will birth in two to four weeks.
Q: Wow. But doesn't the birthing of new groups keep you from developing close friendships?
A: Just the opposite. Genuinely close friends are rare and extremely hard to find. The rapid birthing of Zgroups exposes you to a lot of people in a short period of time - which increases the likelihood that you'll find that once-in-a-lifetime best friend.
Q: What if I want to stay with one or two of my favorite group members when we birth?
A: All you have to do is tell your group leader. He or she will do their best to keep you together.
Q: How can I stay in touch with the friends I make who end up in different groups?
A: Just keep their E-mail addresses. It's that simple.
Q: Where does the "Z" in Zgroups come from?
A: The "Z" comes from Zebulun, a Bible tribe sharing striking similarities with the Internet.
Q: Do you have to be a member of a church to be in a Zgroup?
A: Not at all. Zgroups are open to everyone. Churched and unchurched people are equally welcome.
Q: How did Zgroups get started?
A: The first Zgroup began meeting on Valentine's Day, 1998. It was led by Stephen Schwambach, an Evansville, Indiana/USA pastor, author and syndicated columnist. Zgroups are the heart and soul of Zchurch (www.zchurch.com).
Q: Can you give me an example of what a profile looks like?
A: Sure. It includes -
1. Your first name:
2. Your E-mail address:
3. Your sex:
4. Your age:
5. Your marital status:
6. Your city-state-country:
7. Whether you're a seeker or a believer (see explanation above):
8. Anything else you want to add (for prayer request, use the initials PR):
When you put them all together, they look like this:
Bobfirstname.lastname@example.org/male/48/married/believer/3 kids/electrical engineer/Los Angeles, California,USA/PR: That I might be the husband and father God wants me to be
Q: So how do I get in a Zgroup?
A: All you have to do is E-mail your profile to:
email@example.com...and you're in.
Feel free to explore these options, as well: