For many years I’ve worked on my golf game. I have taken lessons, invested in new clubs, tried different types of balls, and worked on my putting and short game. No matter how much I try to prepare for a round of golf, shots always seem to end up on the fringe of a green rather than on the putting surface.
The fringe isn’t necessarily a bad place to be. After all, the green is close and visible. I’m not too far away from the hole. But hitting a ball from the fringe requires some extra finesse. The guy in the image to the right has switched over and is using his driver to hit the ball. Why? Because the sole of the driver won’t get hung up in the taller grass behind the ball. There are other shots you can play from the fringe, but they require some practice.
Folks on the Fringe
As a group leader, you probably have people on the fringe of your group. There are certainly people on the fringe of your church. Like the golf ball on the fringe, they’re close. They are present for worship, but perhaps do not associate with a Bible study group. Maybe you have a different kind of fringe person altogether – they have come to your group, but over time they’ve slipped away, and now they are distant and inactive. They are still in some proximity to your group, but they aren’t “on the green.”
4 Ways to Reach Fringe Folks
- Assign a person or couple from the group to reach out to them. Normally the fringe person knows one or two people in the group and are closer to them than anyone else. Ask those people to reach out, without being obnoxiously obvious!
- Invite folks on the fringe to every group party you have. For someone on the fringe, it’s much easier to slide back into group life through a fun event than it is to simply show up for Bible study. Fun fellowships can be ways to help folks on the fringe feel less awkward about plugging back in.
- Be persistent. Don’t expect immediate results when you try to bring wandering group members back into the fold. Take a long-term approach, and be thankful if one or two return quickly. That normally won’t be the case, so you have to be persistent in your ongoing outreach to them. Be like the persistent widow in Scripture!
- Make a home visit. Hard? Yes. Uncomfortable to do? Certainly! But a short in-home visit to folks on the fringe could be just the thing they need to get reconnected to your group. When you start a new Bible study, take them a copy of the Bible study materials the week prior and invite them to attend. Let them know you aren’t dropping by to judge them. Explain that you miss them and want to serve them any way possible.
As a general rule, folks on the fringe are not going to take the initiative to reconnect themselves to your group. That’s your responsibility as a group leader. Lead well, and get your entire group involved in reclaiming those folks on the fringe.