I’m thankful that a week ago I was able to walk into a local clinic in my community and receive my first of two COVID-19 vaccination shots. Except for a slightly sore arm afterwards, I felt great.
The vaccines (now three different ones) are being distributed at a steady rate. There are even predictions by some officials that mid-Summer may be a time when things begin to get “back to normal.” I’m optimistic.
Because of a growing herd immunity, and with many seniors now inoculated and feeling better about regathering with family, friends, and Bible study groups, we’re beginning to see an uptick in group attendance. Lifeway Research recently published new findings about the expectations of pastors related to COVID and the regathering of their church’s Bible study groups, and the findings are encouraging. It looks like Summer is going to be a time of growing regathering, and I am pleased to say that Fall may see Bible study groups back together again, if they are not already! As people come back to Bible study groups, the men and women who lead those groups are going to have a unique balancing act to perform.
Balancing the Group’s Focus
Group leaders everywhere are going to need to balance the focus of their Bible study groups as we emerge from COVID. They must keep an eye on absent group members from the last year of our COVID social distancing emphasis. Out of the other eye they must keep a look out for potential group members and those people who are not believers.
The temptation may be to celebrate the return of current group members, and to reach out to friends in groups who have been absent for most of the last 12 months. This is good shepherding, and it is needed, for sure. However, an emphasis on reclamation must not overshadow the emphasis on evangelism and outreach.
How can a group and group leaders maintain the proper balance? I have a few thoughts for you to consider:
- Pray for lost people regularly. This will keep your group’s attention where it needs to be – on people who can be reached by your group.
- Invite potential group members to every fellowship. Never have a social event without inviting non-group members! They like to have fun, too, and these kinds of invitations are easy for them to accept – everyone likes a party.
- Get to know people who are not believers. The worst thing your group can do is to make a non-Christian feel like they are a project – a notch for your spiritual gun belt. Create margin in your schedule to spend time knowing people who are far from God. The longer we are believers, the fewer non-church friends we have. Evangelism and intentionality go hand-in-hand.