Digital Discipleship


Isaiah Lee led a Discipleship Group on Zoom from his home in Sioux Falls. Members shared Scripture God had placed on their hearts and agreed on small, doable challenges each week, such as praying for someone new or watching a sunrise.

In March, as classes transitioned online because of COVID-19, members of Northwestern’s campus ministry staff brainstormed how to continue nurturing students’ Christian formation. In addition to livestreaming chapel on Tuesdays and Fridays, they also pivoted to offering Discipleship Groups digitally.

Under normal circumstances, approximately 200 Northwestern students are involved in D-Groups, which meet weekly in every residence hall and apartment building. Led by trained student leaders, they usually meet late at night to pray, study Scripture, and talk about what their faith has to do with what they’re learning and how they act and make decisions.

After the campus closed, more than 90 students signed up for 16 online D-Groups. Most were students who had been participating in an on-campus group, but some were newcomers. Associate Dean of Christian Formation Barb Dewald guided each leader in choosing content focused on connection. Jamie Stoscher, who joined his D-Group from his home in Albania, says it was a mission accomplished: “It was so meaningful that we not only studied the Bible but also encouraged and listened to one another’s stories.”

Abigail Moody’s D-Group spent the last weeks of the semester doing a Bible study on friendship, a theme that felt especially poignant during a pandemic requiring social distance. Emma Van Meeteren, who participated in Moody’s group, says, “As a senior, leaving NWC early was difficult. With the sudden transition, I knew more than ever that I needed to be challenged and encouraged by women I could trust and confide in.”

Jason Van Dyke participated in an online D-Group with his Hospers Hall “brothers.” He says, “The online experience of D-Groups still provided the Christian fellowship Northwestern prides itself on. That being said, I still prefer meeting in person on campus.”

Camila Wede’s D-Group is continuing online throughout the summer. “It’s a real encouragement that reminds me God is still at work in the world, even if I’m stuck at home.”

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