Drift. It is your group’s worst enemy in COVID-19. In fact, it is your church’s worst enemy. Drift is almost imperceptible when it is taking place. That is what makes it so dangerous.
A pair of pilots flew 297 passengers from New Zealand to Antarctica on a sightseeing journey. They were supposed to see beautiful mountain ranges and all kinds of wonderful topography. They did – right up to the moment the plane flew into the side of a mountain. It was later determined that the pilot’s flight calculations were off by 2 degrees. Just 2 degrees. And that slight amount of drift caused them to fly straight to their deaths. It doesn’t take much drift to create a terrible situation.
There are people in your group and in your church who are drifting away from your group, your church, and perhaps drifting away from the faith.
To fight the drift taking place in COVID-19, you have several options:
- Contact the people on your group’s ministry list regularly. It is awkward to reach out to people on your group’s ministry list who’ve been absent for an extended period of time. The only way to fight the awkwardness is to make sure the awkwardness doesn’t happen in the first place. If absent group members are contacted quickly, they’ll be less likely to drift away.
- Organize your group into Care Groups. Group leaders should not feel the pressure of doing it all. Delegate the shepherding function to other leaders in your group who can become responsible for serving small groups within your group. Care Group leaders can do the bulk of the heavy lifting and help keep absent group members feeling connected to the larger group.
- Don’t hang a label on absent members. Your group members who are drifting are precious to the Lord. They should also be precious to you and your fellow group members. Don’t let anyone look down on them – they may have legitimate reasons for being absent during COVID-19. Which leads me to my last point…
- Welcome them back warmly. Extend grace to your “drifters.” Some will feel awkward and will wonder how they will be received if they show up again in the group. Encourage them to come back, welcome them warmly, and let them know they are welcome.
- Provide a study guide for every group member. You may want to look into Lifeway’s Daily Discipleship Guide. It has 5 daily studies that follow the group’s Bible study session. Delivering or mailing one to absent group members will give them a tool to help them stay engaged in God’s Word daily. It is one way to fight the drift away from Bible study with the group.
Ken, isn’t our worse enemy COVID and the possible death of members? Our first obligation should be the care of our members. That happens in attitude as we make contact with our members where they are, not consistently encouraging them to be where you are, It is an new world both now and in the future.
Not in my view. Covid has a very high survival rate…99.7%? Death has no sting for the believer, so that’s not it. Because we are created for relationship (“It is not good the man to be alone…”) we must reclaim those who have drifted from us during Covid and encourage them to rejoin with us. “Do not forsake your gatherings” means we meet together for mutual encouragement, accountability, relationship, etc. We do need to go where people are, and we do that through personal visits, notes, cards, invitations, and all other forms of communication. Drift is dangerous not only relationally, but spiritually. When people drift away from church and groups, they may ultimately drift away from faith. There’s the true eternal danger.