We’re in a strange time, in various stages of lockdown and restrictions across Australia. Some of our churches are able to meet in person, while others are still meeting online. Many are working through creating a dual audience experience: some people tuning in online for a variety of reasons, and many meeting in person. 

This experience is reflected (in some ways) by the recent episodes of The Bachelor. Think it’s a weird comparison to make? Consider the following: 

1. Small groups are key 

In preparation for lockdown, The Bachelor had its biggest rose ceremony ever, sending home one third of the existing contestants and leaving just 10 to compete – a perfect number to fit on a zoom screen and participate in online cocktail parties. 

It’s a great reminder that online discussion is best limited to smaller groups where everyone can participate. 

While it’s great to be able to tune into a church service, it’s important we give opportunities and spaces for small group discussion, where deep relationships can happen. 

2. There are still ways to engage offline 

Key to each episode of “Love in Lockdown” has been the physical delivery of different props for dates and cocktail parties. From the arrival of a rose-themed laptop, to a onesie delivered at each door, it’s an important reminder to not just rely on online. 

We’ve been able to share a few ways churches have done that, too, but it’s an important reminder for us to continue to think of creative ways to bring community to our homes. 

3. It’s much easier to disengage online

The Bachelor has tried to keep up the same amount of drama, but there’s something much more passive about leaving a Zoom call than running away from the mansion. 

Watching contestants duck in and out of screen, leave Zoom calls and slam their computer screens down is a brutal reminder that the amount of buy-in is much lower online. It is so much easier to disengage from what is going on – particularly if you aren’t directly in the conversation. Whether it’s an online Bible study group or church service, it’s an experience which rings true. It’s much easier to disengage from something which is on a screen, which could impact our long-term relationships.   

4. Connection has to go beyond a Sunday 

There is a clear difference in the connections between the frontrunners, who in lockdown have been texting, calling and facetiming Bachelor Locky, and those who have solely relied on the official date times. 

Unsurprisingly, the girls who have initiated more contact outside of formal times report a much deeper relationship with the Bachelor. While it feels strange to get our dating advice from a reality television show, there’s a much deeper truth at play: church community isn’t just for Sundays. 

5. Anonymous questions are powerful 

We’ve all sat in that (awkward!) Zoom meeting, waiting for someone to ask a question or give feedback. The Bachelor skips those awkward silences, instead giving girls the opportunity to ask questions anonymously. 

It saves the awkwardness and gets straight to the meat of the evening. It’s a great example for online and in person, where raising a hand can require a certain type of bravery. 

We can always be thinking about ministry, no matter where we are - even sitting in front of the box! We’d love to know if you’re getting inspiration from any TV shows, too.