3 things reclaiming wood and reclaiming group members have in common

Reclaimed wood is popular these days – it mainly comes from timbers and decking rescued from old reclaimedwood_31barns, warehouses, factories, and homes. Simply put, reclaimed wood is wood that has been rescued and repurposed, rather than scrapped and destroyed. Reclaimed wood can be cut up, re-shaped, and used in new ways. Perhaps you have some reclaimed wood in your home?

If you watch HGTV long enough, almost every “fixer upper” show uses reclaimed wood in its home renovation projects. When the reclamation is done right, the wood – once discarded – becomes the focal point of a home.

Reclaimed wood and reclaimed group members

Bible study groups often have people who slip through the cracks and are in need of reclamation. Once active in groups, these discarded people have become inactive for a variety of reasons. This has happened during our COVID-19 experience. Although many groups have grown in an online environment, others have not.

People who need reclamation may have left us because we failed to meet a need they had. Maybe they felt underappreciated. Perhaps they felt ignored when they missed a few times and no one called or sent them a text message to check on them. And then there is a group of members who have chosen to withdraw from us for a season because of the pandemic.

COVID has contributed to the need to reclaim people. Many churches and their Bible study groups are still struggling to regather. With new spikes in COVID-19 outbreaks, some churches are now reversing course and moving back to online groups and online worship experiences. Even if in-person worship and groups are taking place, it is no guarantee that people will attend; many are heading the warnings about the virus (I know 3 people who have died from it recently) and avoiding social gatherings. Their absence means that we must work hard to “re-reach the formerly reached” among us. Reclamation of people may be one of our most important ministries in 2021.

Reclaiming wood and reclaiming people have some things in common. Let’s consider where the intersections take place:

  1. Reclaimed wood doesn’t reclaim itself. And neither do “scrapped” group members. Once a 0839c96f1d656ec08ec1ea019a6a3fa1person drops out of a Bible study, the group leader and his or her group members will have to go to work to reclaim former group members. I’ve never seen people who’ve dropped out of a group suddenly show back up and get plugged into the life of the group again. It takes a reclaimer – the teacher or a group member – to initiate the process of reclamation. A catalyst is needed. People may feel awkward for having dropped out. They may be embarrassed because of the reason they slipped away. Jesus told a parable about the importance of leaving 99 sheep in order to reclaim the one lost sheep – and that’s a good reminder to us to go out and reclaim those lost group members – no matter why they wandered away.
  2. The process can take time. If you are committed to reclaiming group members, go in with your eyes wide open and accept the fact it will take some time to reclaim former group members. It would not be unusual for the process to take months – or longer. Be persistent, be prayerful, and be persuaded that you are doing the right thing. Stick with it. But commit to do this for the long haul. Wood that is reclaimed must be gathered, evaluated, and prepared – and this is not a quick process!  icss-1
  3. The end results are worth it. I led a Bible teaching ministry at a growing church in Texas some years ago. On a particular Monday morning, I received a phone call from a well-intentioned group member who belonged to one of my Bible study groups. She was acting as the group’s “secretary,” and was in charge of marking people’s attendance each week. She’d asked the church office to drop several couples from the roll because of their inactivity. I asked her to reach out to them and make contact, explaining how difficult it is for people to re-engage once they quit attending a group. She was skeptical, but agreed to try. The very next Sunday, two of the couples showed up for class. One couple publicly thanked her and the group for not dropping them!

Reclamation works, and people are surely worth the effort. Go and reclaim a lost group member this week, and continue to reclaim others throughout 2021!

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