Churches are rebounding across the country. One church leader I spoke with last week reported that his church’s attendance in groups is at 95% of pre-COVID levels. One New Mexico pastor, my friend Lamar Morin at Hoffmantown Church in Albuquerque, has designated September 12 as “back to church” Sunday, even though his church has already regathered for worship and groups. He and his staff realize that calling all people back to groups is going to be an important milestone for his church this Fall.
Church and group leaders are asking the question, “How do we re-engage our COVID-19 dropouts?” That’s the right question these days. Most groups are going to have a percentage of members who will be slower to return. As teacher-shepherds, it’s our responsibility to pursue these sheep. Starting now, let’s commit to lead our groups to re-engage our COVID-19 dropouts.
- Call, text, or email them. Quick and efficient, these are not bad starting points for re-engaging dropouts. But don’t stop here.
- Meet the person for lunch. A little one-on-one time may be just the ticket. If lunch doesn’t work, you’ve got two other meals to choose from. And if that doesn’t work, well, there’s no end to coffee shops in your city.
- Invite them to a fun fellowship. People love having a good time, so invite every absentee to something fun your group does to party together. Should your group have a movie night, try an escape game, go bowling, have a cookout, go to a park, or take a day trip somewhere? Pull those COVID-19 dropouts back with a little bit of fun.
- Drop off their study materials. A quick porch visit to hand an absentee their study materials communicates that you value them and want them to be back with the group. It’s also a reminder to them that they should engage the Bible between Sundays.
- Pray for them. You might want to move this up to #1.
- Don’t give up on them. Be certain not to hang a label on any absentee. Assume the best. Anticipate their return. Celebrate when they come home.