I haven’t seen my small group friends in over a month. I miss them. Thankfully, we have our weekly video calls to catch up, pray, and talk about the sermon. It isn't the same, but it's good to have something.
You and your church might be in the same boat—missing your people, and trying to figure out how to stay in touch as best you can.
Nothing can replace being face-to-face, but community is still possible, and we want to show you how to lean on Groups to help your church find it.
First, we’ll walk through how to set up groups to meet remotely, and then give you some ideas on how to let your congregation know about the opportunity.
Modifying Groups to Meet Remotely
Using groups to meet remotely means doing new things with features that already exist. Each of these suggestions is a way to further define Groups as a hub for community and conversation for your church.
- Enable Group Messaging to encourage conversation throughout the week. This new feature in the Church Center app is a way to provide your small group with a place to share prayer requests, give life updates, express needs, and have fun! 🎉
- Use attendance to keep a pulse on how people are doing. More than checking a box, taking attendance is a way for leaders to keep an intentional eye on how their people are doing. This record can also fill in your picture of how many in your congregation are staying involved during the quarantine.
- Share sermon resources and materials. If you are also encouraging small groups to watch the sermon “together,” and then discuss later, you can attach sermon notes, study aids, and the link to the live stream or recording of the service.
- Make it easy for people to find their group meeting by setting the Virtual Location. If your groups have a set video “room” for calls, you can set the link to the room as the location. A note on privacy: The location will read “Meets Online” on the public group list.
Again, these features are nothing new; just a new application to give your groups a little extra support.
Getting people into groups
Leaders of existing groups can let their members know about the new processes through email (and Messaging!!).
But what about the people who didn’t have a small group before COVID-19? They, possibly more than anyone else in your church, might be in desperate need of community right now.
A few weeks ago, we published a guide on how to use Planning Center People to reach out to your congregation. We suggest you use that guide to try some of the following ways to get people into small groups:
- Find people without small groups and invite them. Create a list of all of the people who are not in a small group and send them an email with a link to the group list so they can sign up. Another option is to send them a text using the same link.
- Ask people if they are interested in a group on your online forms. This gives people a place to express interest, and give some background, so you can find a group that might be the right fit for them.
- A personal invitation during a check-in call. Sometimes all people need is a personal invitation. As you reach out to people throughout the week—on their prayer requests and other needs—you can also ask them if they want help joining a group. Add it as a step to your workflow.
These tasks require a little time investment, but hopefully, the payoff is a church more connected to one another during a time when it’s more difficult than usual.
Keep doing good work,
♥ Planning Center