“Huddles” are like small groups for small group point people – a great way to find support & share ideas like this one here! Invite 2 or more friends & start a huddle today online or over coffee!
One of the many benefits of a small group is coming together face-to-face for growing together in the Body of Christ. But does your small group have ministry plans in place for when you cannot come together?
The recent health emergency surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19) has caught many of us off guard. As more and more face-to-face gatherings are being prohibited to limit the spread of the virus, some churches and small groups are not quite ready to continue ministries in different ways. But health emergencies are not the only reasons to be prepared for the challenges associated with not being able to meet together. Natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, winter storms, etc., and/or disruption to public services like contaminated water lines and loss of electricity also can interrupt gathering in small groups.
Small Group Readiness for Times of Adversity
Jesus tells us in Matthew 24 to be ready for His coming and to be ready for the hard times that will precede His return. In a similar way small groups need to be ready for hard times they may face in times of adversity. Being prepared for those times means having plans in place for alternative ways to “meet together” when you cannot meet face-to-face. When small group members are aware of these alternatives, they can continue encourage one another and continue to grow together.
Ministry context and the type of adversity faced will dictate your choice of alternatives to meeting together. Here are some ideas to consider that may generate ideas of your own:
Pre-Planned Technology-Based Alternatives to Meeting Together
- Activate a prayer chain via phone, social media, and/or church website
- Meet online through video conferencing
- Meet via a conference call
- Use social media to continue your teaching and learning
- Use the church website to share small group resources
Pre-Planned Non-Technology Based Alternatives to Meeting Together
- Pray on your own for each member of the small group
- Utilize prayer groups that pray for each member without meeting together
- Follow Bible reading plans, or begin reading through the New Testament
- Self-study small group curriculum
- Practice spiritual disciplines, thinking of the members in the small group
Small Group Ministries in Times of Adversity
When the small group is turning to alternative ways of meeting together, it also has the opportunity to minister to others outside the group. By showing the love of Christ through your love for your neighbor, your small group has the opportunity to fulfill its mission in growing disciples. Ministry opportunities take on different forms depending on the context and the type of adversity faced by your neighbor. Here are some ideas to consider that may generate ideas of your own:
Opportunities to Minister to Individuals
- Check on the well-being of neighbors
- Run errands for those who cannot do so
- Help with cleanup efforts around your area
- Share store-packaged foods and bottles of water
- Listen to those in need and just sit with them
Opportunities to Minister to the Community
- Participate in the home church’s support ministries
- Work together in cleanup efforts
- Distribute recommended resources
- Join in to help other relief groups
- Support home church relief ministries financially
For other ideas on opportunities for ministry in times of adversity, please see the article, Practice Safe Church by Rockbridge Seminary President Daryl Eldridge.
Times of Adversity are Opportunities for Ministry
As small groups we need to have pre-prepared strategies in mind for times when we cannot meet face-to-face. Those plans, when known in advanced, can help keep the small group alive until you can meet together again. Alongside those plans, we need to also be prepared to minister to others in the community, both as individuals and as the small group. Times of adversity can become opportunities for ministry. Remember 15 “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. 16 And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” – Hebrews 13:15-16 (NASB)
Mark Simpson, Vice President for Academic Services – Rockbridge Seminary