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, my approach shots to the greens always seem to end up on the fringe rather than on the putting surface.
The fringe isn’t necessarily a bad place to be. After all, the green is close by. I’m not too far away from the hole. But hitting a ball from the fringe requires some extra finesse. Really skilled players, like the one in the picture to the right, know how to make specialty shots from the fringe (he’s using his driver!).
As a group leader, you need to know how to hit some specialty shots when you have people on the fringe of your Bible study group.
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. Remember what a friend once told me about persistence: “A steady drop wears out the rock.”
- Make a home visit. Hard to do? 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 them 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. 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.
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