What are you learning during this age of COVID-19?
Here are a three of the things I'm learning about small group ministry:
1. The importance of a healthy span of care has never been more important.
If you want to build a thriving small group ministry, you must develop and maintain a healthy span of care.
If everyone's spiritual and relational development hinges on your availability, your impact will be extremely limited. On the other hand, if you embrace the truth that "everyone needs to be cared for by someone but no one can take of more than (about) 10" you only have to be available to the right 10 people.
Note: A healthy span of care is built over days, weeks, months, and years of steady, relentless, development of those who would be leaders of leaders.
See also, 7 Deadly Sins of Small Group Ministry.
2. Human interaction is at the very heart of discipleship.
It has been well said that life-change happens best in circles (not rows). And the essence of this reality is that life-change happens in relational interaction.
The importance of human interaction cannot be overstated when it comes to making more and better disciples. Certainly making more and better disciples is the work of the Holy Spirit, but the role of life-on-life is at the heart of the way God uses people, me and you, to help family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers, acquaintances and bystanders experience God's love for them.
And the amazing thing is that the power of human interaction isn't limited physical proximity. Our voices over a cellular transmission, our smiling encouragement during a FaceTime or Zoom call, even a thoughtfully and memorably worded note or a card, can enter the ranks of moments that change lives.
Every moment of human interaction deserves to be stewarded well. When the game is over, it is the life-long collection of well-stewarded investments in the development of others that prompts, "Well done."
Every moment of human interaction deserves to be stewarded well. When the game is over, it is the life-long collection of well-stewarded investments in the development of others that prompts, Well done. Click To Tweet
3. Relationship can't be microwaved but it's amazing what can happen with a few weeks of frequent, caring, interaction.
We've known for years that a new leader's weekly contact with a coach (by phone or in person) is one of the most important factors in whether a new small group continues into their second and third study. The availability of advice and coaching from someone who knows how to lead a group and cares enough to be available is essential. The data absolutely supports this belief.
Further, we've known for years that new small group leaders only need help with technique in the first 3 or 4 months of group leadership. Essentially, if they don't figure out a small set of basic techniques the group dies. And that means the role of a coach is only about technique for the first few months. If the relationship is to continue, it will have to shift to care before the end of the first three or four months. And when it does shift to care it often becomes a mentoring relationship.
What makes this happen? The relationship becomes a mentoring relationship as a result of frequent, caring, interaction. And mentoring relationships make disciples.
Would this practice be something good to establish right now? Yes. Absolutely.
Okay...technically, these are three ways COVID-19 is reminding me about some essential truths of small group ministry.
What are you learning?