Connecting over Attending

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Presenting our new online training course – “Align!” Align will help you learn the small group ministry essentials. It features…

8 HD video session taught by Steve Gladen
A downloadable workbook
Lesson discussion questions
An official Small Group Network completion certificate
A special gift to help further your Small Group Ministry

Learn more by watching the free course introduction & ENROLL HERE!

What was once a novel, fun occurrence (online small groups), has for some of us, if not many of us, turned into a laborious experience. When Covid first began, many of us saw our members gladly join us on some platform and engage. “We are going to get through this. How great that we can still connect utilizing technology” was our battle-cry.

Fast forward eight months. Some of us still haven’t met with our small groups in person. Now when we log on for our small group meeting, we hope someone will show up. People are tired of Zoom. Our team has written great articles on this, most notably Kiersten Telzerow’s article and Chris Surratt’s article. But there is still no changing the fact that these articles will not magically inspire people to show up.

And so as you take attendance each week, you become more and more discouraged. “I must be a lousy small group leader.” “What am I doing wrong?” “Is it even worth it?” Questions we all wrestle with as we endeavor to lead a small group during this time.

So how do we stay encouraged?

And I wonder if we need to slightly change our focus during this time. Instead of focusing on who is not attending, we should focus on who is connected.

First, let me acknowledge that some of you are in churches that require you to take attendance. If that is where you are, continue doing so, but please make sure that attendance is not an empty stat. I recently asked a question on our Small Group Network Facebook page about attendance, and many people contributed a lot. But the biggest takeaway was that attendance is not the only metric to use. Attendance should never be an end, but rather a means to foster great connection between us and our group.

So if you are taking attendance and you see a name of a member that you has not attended in a few weeks, use that moment to reach out to him/her. Resist the urge to shame or guilt that person (I am guilty of this). Instead of beginning with, “I have not seen you in small group for a couple of weeks,” consider “I was thinking about you and just wanted to check in and see what was going on.” (This holds true if you are taking attendance or not.)

Second, if you do not take attendance, you need to figure out a way to stay connected with those in your group. If you communicate group happenings via text or email, look over the list of names and see who has not attended recently.

Third, create a way to stay connected as a group. With this, most importantly, don’t think it is all up to you to do this. Help your group stay connected with each other as allowed. Depending on where you live, this might mean sitting outside, going on a walk, meeting at a coffee shop, having coffee virtually. Be creative.

Finally, if someone in your group is no longer interested in being part of your group, for whatever reason, help them make new connections better suited to them and where they are at.

Our goal should never be simple attendance, but rather connectedness that leads to transformation. So during this season how are you staying connected to people in your group?