5 Tips for Keeping your Small Group Healthy During the COVID-19 Crisis
As we continue to navigate uncharted waters as a church without a building or in-person meetings, our small groups are playing an essential role. Whether you’re a group leader or member, consider these five tips for maintaining a strong and healthy small group during the COVID-19 crisis.
In addition to keeping a regular family schedule during this season, it’s important for your group to keep up regular meetings as well. Hebrews 10:24-25 is still in effect, even when we can’t obey it in person.
Zoom or other videoconferencing platforms are a great way for your group to meet now. And, of course, between meetings you can continue to connect with group members through old-fashioned texting and even calling! But as with in-person meetings, online meetings are profitable only if you’re there. Do not neglect it, Hebrews says. And now more than ever we need to be the body of Christ to one another.
Don’t use this time to take a vacation from biblical community. Our small groups (Couples, Men’s, Women’s, Rooted, Women of the Word, and others) are now even more important as Bethel Church continues to meet together. Our church needs connection and spiritual growth during this pandemic and small groups are key.
Have you or your group fallen into a hit-and-miss frequency of meeting? Has checking in with each other between meetings fallen off? Now is an important time to push the reset button and get back into the habit of regularly connecting and gathering together.
KEEP ON ONE-ANOTHERING
The New Testament “one another” commands are the heartbeat of Christian life together and provide a great road map for how to relate to each other as fellow group members. Living these out is central to small group life. Now is a great time for your group to take a fresh look at them.
How many of these commands can you do without meeting in person? Surprisingly, quite a lot of them! Of course, it’s not the same as ministering to one another face-to-face, but it’s still meaningful and necessary for our unity and maturity. Take some time and walk through them together. Have fun and be creative as your group considers how to be the church to one another during this season.
PRIORITIZE PRAYER AND CARE
Theology and doctrine are good. Study is important. But right now, make sure care and prayer are priorities in your group. We were all caught off guard by this pandemic that has quickly changed our lives. We’re all grieving our loss of routine, control, and freedoms. In addition, every member of your group has unique consequences and difficulties and is dealing with them in different ways.
Make it OK to not be OK in your group. Be honest with each other. Share your struggles. In the process, give extra grace and care to one another. And be humble enough yourself to ask for and receive care from your group when you need it. Texts, notes, practical help, birthday gifts, or drive-by parades for each other’s kids—these all make a huge impact anytime and especially now.
Also, spend extra time praying with and for each other. We always need God, but right now, boy, do we need God! We need to acknowledge his sovereignty, ask for his daily provision, and receive the Spirit’s peace to guard our minds and hearts. So, be resolute in praying daily for those in your group and in making prayer a priority when you gather together.
REACH OUT TOGETHER
Our perspective and attitude are always better when we focus less on ourselves and more on Christ, and on serving others in his name. And right now, the opportunity and need for this is unlike any other in our lifetime. Your small group is a ready-made delivery system to meet practical needs and to share the gospel. Don’t miss this opportunity!
Discuss with your group some ideas for serving others in our church and reaching out to your local community. Choose one to start with and go! While the stay-at-home order means that you’ll need to be more creative in your planning, it also means you can give more control to God through prayer for both the planning and the results.
STAY FOCUSED ON THE BIG PICTURE
In times of uncertainty it’s natural to focus on trying to improve circumstances for ourselves and others. That’s good, but not if we lose sight of eternity in the process. In your small group, remember to point each other back to God daily; back to our all-knowing, all-powerful, ever-present and loving heavenly Father who is sanctifying us and working all things together for our good.
“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal”
(2 Corinthians 4:17-18).
Scripture passages like this one and others such as 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 remind us of what is true when we find ourselves or our fellow group members missing the forest for the trees. Continually encourage one another with the truth of God’s Word; big picture truths about who God is, what he’s done, who we are in Christ, and how he calls us to live no matter what the circumstances.
I’m praying that your group stays vibrant during this season, so that you not only weather this storm together, but emerge from it even more unified and mature!
Is Bethel your church home, but you haven’t joined a small group yet? Some new online groups are forming soon. Please fill out this brief small group interest form and we’ll be in touch for a quick conversation about group options and next steps.