Today’s post is a follow-up to yesterday’s post related to absentee group members. One of our blog subscribers asked for a deeper dive and wanted to know, “What do you say to a group member who has been gone a long time?” Here are some things to say as you make contact with them for the first time in a long time. How do I know these things? Because I’ve been in a position as a group leader to make these kinds of calls and contacts:
- “I want to apologize for not doing a good job of following up with you” – It’s your responsibility as a group leader to make sure that absentee group members are contacted. When someone has been gone for a long time, awkwardness increases for everyone when a contact is finally made. The best way to approach this is to simply admit that you and the group didn’t do a great job in following up. Take the blame. Take the heat. Apologize.
- “We’d love to have you come back to the group.” I sold men’s clothing a long time ago during my college days. I was taught to always “ask for the sale.” I’d say things like, “That suit looks great on you – should I go ahead and mark it for alteration? That’s a great shirt and tie combination – do you want to charge it or write a check?” When it comes to absentee group members, “ask for the sale.” Don’t be shy about asking them for what you want – you want them to return to your group! Couple that with #1 above, and it would sound like this: “Hey ________, I’ve missed seeing you in our group and I apologize for not reaching out to you sooner – that’s my fault…but we’d love to have you back to the group this weekend. Would you like to go to lunch afterwards and catch up?” Ask the person to come back, and let them know they really have been missed.
- “The group is getting together for some fun this weekend, and we thought about you.” Everyone likes a party, and everyone likes being invited to attend a party. So when you reach out to that person who has been AWOL for a while, lead with an invitation to something fun: a barbecue, a movie night, a game night, dinner out, a concert, bowling, etc. Those absentees who’ve been gone are probably more inclined to get back in the saddle than you think, but they feel awkward just showing up in the group’s Bible study. Get them an invitation to something off-campus! You’ll have a better chance of getting them to re-engage when they can ease back in through a social event.