Presenting our new online training course – “Align!” Align will help you learn the small group ministry essentials. It features…
- 8 HD video session taught by Steve Gladen
- A downloadable workbook
- Lesson discussion questions
- An official Small Group Network completion certificate
- A special gift to help further your Small Group Ministry
Learn more by watching the free course introduction & ENROLL HERE!
“Where do we go from here?”…”Is this the new normal?”…”What should we do for our fall groups?” With only a short time left until fall groups launch, these questions are circulating on the small group ministry forums as churches begin to prepare for their seasonal small group push in September. Yet let us not forget the more subtle needs of your small group members as we discuss reentry for our fall small groups.
Be Kind to Your Introverts
For some who are more introverted, the desire to socialize may not come back as quickly for them as for those who are more extroverted. It’s not that they are anti-social, it’s just that those who are more introverted will likely find themselves staying in for the night instead of going out. To some degree, introverts have to be encouraged and guided back into the fold of small groups. In other words, don’t be shocked if your more introverted group members say that they are not ready to begin attending the group just yet. While being away from fellowship for 6 months may not have been a big deal for them, it’s also possible that their socialization “muscles” may have atrophied a bit. After all, a person who hasn’t exercised in 6 months doesn’t jump off of the couch and run a marathon the next day. Similarly, some of our group members will need to be eased back into the lifestyle of personally connecting with others.
Hybrid Attendance Is Okay
Even as cases of Covid-19 decline, concerns will remain for the virus (especially among those who are considered high-risk). It is because of this that our fall small groups will need to be flexible. To help with this, one option may be to allow hybrid attendance, a strategy where some group members attend the group in person while others tap in remotely at the same time. While it may not be ideal, it accomplishes two things: first, it helps the aforementioned introverts begin to socially recalibrate; second, it offers fellowship for those who want to be in a small group but are considered “high risk.”
Jay Kranda, pastor of online groups at Saddleback Church, explains that online groups are a stepping stone for individuals to transition into in-person groups. Although this pre-Covid teaching may have been more prophetic than he realized, it is a nugget of wisdom that we must keep at the forefront of our minds as we begin the reentry process. Rather than insisting that the group meets only in person, we must be okay with individuals wanting to connect remotely until they feel more comfortable. To further assist with this approach, perhaps offering a few online-only group meetings may help cater to this strategy. If meeting online is new for your group and you are unsure of what content to use, discussing the week’s sermon may in fact be one of the best options to offer, as this allows any group format to work successfully (whether online, hybrid, or in-person).
Encouraging Those Who Aren’t Ready
The effects of Covid-19 are far-reaching. While some of the effects may have been traumatic, not all of them are necessarily medical. Previously we discussed that when a church experiences trauma, healing will likely become a part of the church’s vision. Because of this reality, we refrain from holding onto the dangerous presumption that all church members will reenter at the same pace. Healing and transformation happens best within the context of relationships, and sometimes even contacting and speaking with a group member on an individual level can be a great way to help them take their next step back to fellowship.