On campus, I’m part of a Christian Fellowship named Manna. Every Saturday night, I attend Manna’s Large Group gathering. Of course, the event is held online. This is a gathering I’ve been attending every weekend for the past four years. While reading the art of gathering, I couldn’t help but constantly refer back to this event. The purpose of the event is for people to gather together to learn about God and worship Him. There are 6 main components to Large Group
- Worship (singing praise songs, with a live band)
- Testimony sharing
- Sermon by the Executive Director
- Prayer led by prayer team
- Fellowship time for entire group (talking in breakout rooms)
The total events takes around 2 hours, all of which occurs on one Zoom link. There’s around 40-60 attendees.
This used to take place in McCormick 101, a large lecture hall that can fit around 100 people. After the transition to zoom took place, the people that took part in leading this event had to lead their portion of the event in their own homes. This makes it difficult to be engaged and feel a sense of community while worshipping. This semester, with many moving back to campus, we’ve been able to incorporate an in-person component to the zoom event. People host watch parties, where 2-3 people gather in a dorm room and share one zoom screen. This has significantly improved my experience at the event. When I attend a zoom event with my video on, it’s easy to disconnect. But with people leading on the screen in front of me and people standing next to me and worshipping or praying together, it really feels like we’re gathering for the same purpose, which is ultimately to encounter God’s presence.
Something that planning for and attending Manna Large Group made me consider is that everyone is coming from a different place and calling in from various locations. In this virtual format, it's much more difficult to create a unified experience and atmosphere. I thought about the students living at home this semester, who are watching the Zoom by themselves. I kept wondering how to make them feel more included in the event and the community.
- 2 toasts