I am foreseeing the post-COVID small group ministry happening in a big way. Actually, I see a small group boom in fall 2021. For some this is starting now. One church in my coaching group recruited 50 new hosts for their spring 2021 launch. Things are looking good for groups, but things are looking different for groups.

Small Group Ministry is More Decentralized Than Ever

As a small group pastor or director, you have been longing for a decentralized ministry. Well, COVID decentralized your ministry, now don’t reel it back in. Keep your small group ministry outside of the building. Here are a few things to think about:

Put your training online and push it out to your leaders.

Empower your coaches to serve the leaders. Don’t wrap this all around you. You’ve got to multiply yourself.

Get training into your leaders’ hands. Give them a copy of a book like Making Small Groups Work by Cloud/Townsend or Leading Healthy Groups by Allen White.

Keep your groups in neighborhoods as much as possible. There’s something personal about meeting in someone’s home. There’s also something powerful about meeting in a neighborhood. Let their light shine!

Pivot to a Hybrid Groups Ministry Amid This Unprecedented Pandemic

There, I got all of the COVID clichés into one subhead. The word for you to focus on is hybrid (online and in-person). It will be a while before everyone is ready or able to meet in-person. But, here’s the other thing – some people like this online world. If I don’t have to get myself to church for a meeting and arrange for childcare because the meeting is online, I’m in!

The same goes for groups. Some people are tired of being apart and are ready to get together. Let them figure it out. Encourage groups to review their group agreement and see what works best for everyone.

Some groups meett online and couldn’t get back together even if they wanted to. People moved away. But, the group can keep meeting together online. If schools no longer have snow days due to online classes, then online groups no longer have snow birds. Online groups keep everybody together.

The new debate is meeting in-person or staying online. Just like we had the debate between the maskites and anti-maskites last year, this year we have groups splitting over some wanting to meet in-person and others wanting to stay online (I posted about that issue here). Now, imagine if every group in your church became two groups. (Read that again: Imagine if every group in your church became two groups!) You would have twice the groups. You would have more opportunity for people who prefer to meet in-person to join the in-person half of a group. You would also have more opportunity for people to join online groups. HINT: Don’t combine your groups. Even if they’re small. Keep them separate. Let them grow. Double your groups.

Something I’m Piloting Right Now

This past weekend I led a host briefing at two physical campuses as well as an online campus simultaneously. I am serving as the Life Group Director for a church that is 747 miles from my house. Fortunately, it’s in the same time zone!

The senior pastor made the invitation for new hosts during the service. Folks responded by text to the church’s text service. They were given instructions by text about how to join the briefing – the room on-campus or the link online.

From my home in South Carolina, I led the three campus host briefing over Zoom. I was on the big screen at the physical campuses, then interacted with the folks online as well. Each physical location had a person assisting me. I could see the room. My assistants had a mic to pass around for people who had questions. I also answered questions in the chat on Zoom.

The prospective hosts at the physical locations had a hard copy of the briefing packet and the host application. Those who met online had a pdf of the briefing packet and a link to register online.

Experienced leaders were present at all three locations to meet the new hosts and begin walking alongside them for the next 12 weeks (a three week ramp up, then a nine week series. Nine weeks? – I’m just following the senior pastor’s lead).

I will keep you posted on what else I learn.

What are you learning about small group ministry right now? Leave your response below.

Join me for a webinar: Small Group Restart: Ministry in a Post-COVID World on Wednesday, April 21 at 2pm Eastern/ 1 pm Central/ Noon Mountain/ 11 am Pacific. Click here to register.

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