With the slow re-opening of the country back up, and the likelihood of church gatherings being restricted for awhile, leveraging small groups is critical. Many churches want to be a church a church of small groups. This crisis is a great test of how well we are doing with our groups. Rather than focus on the frustration of not gathering as a whole church, focus on how we can add depth to our small groups.
What are small groups?
Small groups is a strategy to build community and discipleship within a church. This can be done with Sunday School, Adult Bible Fellowships, Community groups, etc. Churches give their groups different names, and that is great. What I mean by small groups is how your church leverages community building and discipleship beyond Sunday gatherings.
A strength of small groups is the ability for the church to care for its members. Identify the holes in your church’s care for people. Are the people who “fell through the cracks” a part of a group? If not, why not? Evaluation his not just looking for negatives. What success stories are you seeing from your small groups? Can you record testimonies of people engaged with small groups to promote them when we can get back together? Finally, what questions are your small groups leaders asking? What resources of helps do they need?
If people are the hands and feet of God, small group leaders are the hands and feet of pastors. The Coronavirus is forcing churches to obey Ephesians 4 where pastors equip the saints to do the work of ministry. The necessity of the crisis asks more of our small group leaders, which means we need to train more. Give your groups a game plan on how to lead their group as it starts back up again. Extroverts are going to want to talk… a lot… Introverts will need time to adjust back to being in group again. Train your leaders on how to perform communion in their small groups. For small groups that act more as discussion facilitators, help them when the leader needs to be more of a directed teacher. Give your small groups the tools to win.
Pastors, move the goalposts of you clearly teaching the Bible to how well your small group leaders teach the Bible. They do not need to be perfect, and you do not always have to be seen. We know this. We desperately want to see our people again. Moving the goal posts in your mind helps. As an idea, Zoom with your leaders what you want taught on a particular Sunday. After that, follow up to see how well it went. Also, identify leaders you think have God’s calling on their life to be a future pastor. Jesus said the workers are few. What if God is making this a recruitment time for more workers for His harvest?
Celebrate your small groups! When we can meet back together again, as pastors we will want to preach our hearts out. People want to worship and be together. The first Sunday, celebrate your small group leaders. We so often say you need to be in a group. During this season groups are ESSENTIAL. Our first gathering together can be one of the biggest pushes for small groups because people see the value. We get what we celebrate. Hebrews tells us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves. Obedience to that will likely need to come from our small groups before we can meet in large gatherings again. Celebrate people’s faithfulness to one another!
The biggest win during this crisis is the realization that pastors cannot nor should they do it all. For church to work all hands need to be on deck. When we cannot gather together as one large group, seize the opportunity leverage small groups in a way never before possible. You can do it!