A Conversation Guide for Restarting Small Groups in Fall 2020

Let’s walk back to March 2020 for a moment. In twenty-four hours, a majority of small groups went from meeting in-person to meeting online through programs like Zoom. The adaptability of churches and small groups should be commended.

As we transition to consider groups restarting in the fall, I believe it’s more important than ever to focus on what will never change. Hebrews 10:24–25 says this:

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another-and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Hebrews 10:24–25

Small groups provide a crucial environment for discipleship to live out the gospel. We pray for each other. We encourage each other. We challenge each other. We engage scripture together. We help each other see how God works.

The why of small groups has not changed. Often, our conversations focus on the how. Churches, pastors, and small group leaders will wrestle with how the shutdown has positively and negatively affected groups. I’m convinced that if we keep the why of experiencing gospel in community with each other, the how will take care of itself.

In preparation for the fall, I want to offer a few questions to guide conversations for small group ministries, pastors, and leaders to help better reflect on the past of groups in the shutdown and plan for the fall post-pandemic:

What worked and didn’t work over the shutdown?

Small group ministries and leaders can find value in deciphering what worked and did not work for groups. In many ways, this dialogue will begin at the group level. I have heard of some groups that met more often during the shutdown. Other groups might have lacked a plan. It’s vital to have these conversations to help us plan for the future.

When will your group restart for the fall? Layout the schedule.

Brené Brown says, “Clarity is kind.” Providing group members a date of restarting in the fall helps everyone. Sometimes small groups can fall into the trap of going week to week. Laying out a schedule helps people block off their calendar and creates space for what you value. Consider these aspects in laying out a timetable for small groups:

What’s the rhythm of group meetings? In-person vs. online

I heard from some groups that ended up meeting every week over Zoom that met every other week in person. Other groups cannot wait to get back to meeting in-person. As small group ministry leaders, the why far outweighs the how. Small group leaders and members have the best perspective on the rhythm of meeting in-person vs. online. Identify the rhythm that best helps your group experience the gospel.

How would you like to grow as an individual and the group as a whole?

If you aim for nothing, you will hit it every time. Each year, my wife has asked this question to our group. Members in the group and the group as a whole can begin to ask areas of growth that God might reveal during the year. A question like this one provides an application to Hebrews 10:24–25

What will try next year?

Leading and engaging small groups during a pandemic taught us that we could adapt quickly. I think we often look at changes as long-term rather than setting a defined time to try new things. Instead of debating whether a change will work or not work, I think this past season taught us to experiment with a set time for the group. Let’s not be afraid of failing, but look at ways to help the group grow.

What other questions would you add to starting small groups for the fall? Share them in the comment section below.

Photo by Nicolas Lobos on Unsplash

Originally published at https://peterenglert.com on June 16, 2020.

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Peter Englert

Adult Ministries Director @Browncroft . Host on @WGWPodcast. Married to @RobynEnglert | Subscribe to my blog ➡️ http://eepurl.com