Some people think that small groups are about the last thing that people need right now. With so much going on in people’s lives and so much turmoil in the world, forming groups for some seems like an uphill battle. But, when you look at the needs in people’s lives, it seems like a time to lean into groups rather than pull away.
Today is Election Day in the U.S. This will be regarded as a historic election in many ways. Chances are no one will know the result of the election at the end of the day or the wee hours of tomorrow morning. There are a lot of absentee ballots to count. If you haven’t voted, then stop reading and go vote!
Tomorrow life will be very similar to what it is today. As over 100 countries of the world have issued mask mandates, many European countries are locking down and implementing tighter restrictions to address the Coronavirus pandemic. For most people this all feels enormous – economic uncertainty, political unrest, racial injustice, and a health crisis. On top of all of this, the things in people’s lives that were already breaking – marriages, finances, jobs, parenting, etc. – are closer to broken than they’ve ever been. I don’t mean to be all doom and gloom, but real or imagined, people are facing a level of anxiety unlike most have experienced in their lifetimes. What can you do?
People Need Connection
What does your screentime look like on your iPhone? You will probably immediately go to “I use it for work.” I know that you do, but let’s face it that handy little device is a friend and a foe. The “friend” part keeps us distracted from what’s going on. (I’ll admit that I’m playing a lot of Boggle with Friends these days). It’s also a foe, because your connected device is disconnecting you. A wise person once said (my wife), “People have more means of connecting than they’ve ever had, yet they are more disconnected than they’ve ever been.” And, that was said before the pandemic.
People are made to connect. This is why you and I do what we do with groups. But, groups have gotten weird in 2020. People are tired of looking at screens, but they aren’t tired of relationships. What if you encouraged your people to use that ever present device in their hands to “encourage one another daily?”
People Need Conversation
The church has excelled in developing online content in the last eight months. While much of it was better when worship services were online only, the church is putting out a ton of content – services, Bible studies, video devotionals, and so much more. It’s a lot. The problem is that it’s only one-way communication. In most cases, people can’t talk back or interact. (There are a few exceptions).
You’re well aware of Zoom fatigue, but there are many other ways for people to have conversations online. Ideally people will meet in groups on a familiar online platform to discuss the sermon topic from Sunday or something else they are interested in. If they don’t, your people need some way to process what they’re dealing with and talk to another person. Cable news is not a comfort. And, they need more than teaching videos. They need more talking.
You Have an Opportunity
In many ways the world has been turned upside down in 2020. More than a few of you have posted memes about foregoing the time change to avoid an extra hour of 2020. I’m not a fan of the time change anyway. But, what does God intend for the Church in 2020?
If you believe that God is Sovereign, then you have to admit that 2020 was not a surprise to God. The Church has faced much more dire circumstances throughout history, yet the Church has moved forward. This is the time to rethink what your church is doing. This is the time to reach people whose lives have been disrupted. This is the time to reach people who are far from God with a message of hope.
Last week, I gave you the “because of COVID” excuse for making changes. It’s not a bad one. While it’s easy to starting thinking about all of the negative things that happened to your church “because of COVID,” have you thought about the opportunities? The effectiveness in the Church during this season is not the status quo, which one author defines as “the mess we are in.”
But, in 2020, I’m hearing pastors talk about great things that are happening “because of COVID:”
“The size of our groups were limited by COVID restrictions, so every group became two groups.” Who wouldn’t want to double their groups?
“I connected with some old high school friends including one who was far from God to form a multi-state online group.”
“Our groups increased by 211% over last year.”
“Our church formed book clubs by asking any willing person to gather a group of friends.”
What is happening in your church “because of COVID?” Let us know in the Comments below.