It started back in March 2020.
We were pressing into getting our worship online or perfecting our online worship, and figuring out how to pass the offering plate without using one. Churches and leaders were creative and innovative, demonstrating their ability to rise to the occasion. While this energy was spent well in these areas for many churches, we did not sustain our groups’ ministry. It was more of a “do the best you can” approach, and many did the best they could.
Pastors and leaders who were intentional with their group’s ministry had been leading group leaders to reach, teach, and minister. This happened well before COVID, and they had the infrastructure to do ministry during COVID and beyond. For those who did not, their group’s church has floundered without a plan or direction.
Statistics show that active people in a small group or Sunday school class are the highest contributors to church health. We need groups to be back and be back better. We have a great opportunity before us NOW. Let’s seize the moment and move forward.
Rather than thinking about how things were before COVID and attempting to recover that structure, we must come to an understanding that it will not be the same. With this in mind, we need to view this as a new group’s ministry, not as a bringing back what once was. Here is a simple plan that can scale to any size church to build a group’s ministry.
Some questions to consider in creating your new group’s ministry are:
- Before COVID, what percentage of the worship attendance was attending groups?
- What is the difference in the worship attendance now compared to pre-COVID?
- What are the general ages of the people attending groups in person and online?
- What are current groups already attending in person or online?
- What are leaders willing to continue to serve?
- What space do we have that can provide the safe distancing needed?
Using this information, we can begin to know how many groups to form.
Once we know who from the existing structure is willing to be a group leader, we should determine from where we will get the remaining leaders that will be needed. It is not who you know, but it is more about who you need to know. Who has been or will be coming to your church when it returns to worship? Plan to reach out and get to know them. Consider a potential worker event, whether it be in person and/or online, to help people understand what the need is and what is expected. Some great leaders out there have been displaced for one reason or another that desire to serve.
Consider your room in light of social distancing. After COVID is no longer the crisis that it has been, people will still be sensitive to these issues. Utilize your largest rooms and consider removing some walls to create some larger spaces. Provide additional times for groups to meet in the larger areas. We might be limited on the number of larger rooms. Also, we will need to coordinate with the preschool, children, and student ministries to serve those groups who have children in those areas.
Many churches are seeing new faces online or in person. We must have a plan to reach out to them and connect them with a group. Learn of their spiritual condition, lead them to faith, or direct them to be disciple-makers who make disciple-makers. Make a concerted and continuous effort to engage them safely and effectively when they walk into our building. Plan to engage people online in a personal conversation via chat or text and get to know them.
Since most churches have lost groups, this will be a great time to start new ones. Many are without a group that will provide much-needed ministry in their lives. See what ages are without a group and make plans to create one. Some people will continue to prefer to be online. We do not want to discount or discard these folks. Starting a new online group can provide a place for those who will not return to the building at present. Our ministry needs to continue for all in person or online.
Pray and put together a group’s ministry plan with these elements. Consider the condition of your group’s ministry. Utilize the leaders and space that you have or once had. Determine what is still needed to see that everyone has a place in the new structure. Pursue new leaders and unique space. Set a start date and build the new design as space and leaders are available. The key here is to have a plan of who, where, and when the groups will start.