By Ken Braddy
A pair of pilots flew 297 passengers from New Zealand to Antarctica on a sightseeing journey. They were supposed to see beautiful mountain ranges and all kinds of wonderful topography. They did—right up to the moment the plane flew into the side of a mountain.
It was later determined that the pilot’s flight calculations were off by two degrees. Just two degrees. And that slight amount of drift caused them to fly straight to their deaths. It doesn’t take much drift to create a terrible situation.
Drift. It is your group’s worst enemy in COVID-19. In fact, it is your church’s worst enemy. And drift is almost imperceptible when it’s taking place. That’s what makes it so dangerous.
There are people in your Bible study and in your church who are drifting away from your group, your church, and perhaps drifting away from the faith.
To fight the drift taking place in COVID-19, you have several options. Here are five of them.
1. Contact the people on your group’s ministry list regularly.
It’s awkward to reach out to people on your group’s ministry list who’ve been absent for an extended period of time. The only way to fight the awkwardness is to make sure the awkwardness doesn’t happen in the first place.
If absent group members are contacted quickly, they’ll be less likely to drift away.
2. Organize your group into Care Groups.
Group leaders shouldn’t feel the pressure of doing it all. Delegate the shepherding function to other leaders in your group who can become responsible for serving small groups within your group.
Care group leaders—people appointed to reach out to and provide care for other group members—can do the bulk of the heavy lifting and help keep absent group members feeling connected to the larger group.
3. Don’t hang a label on absent members.
Your group members who are drifting are precious to the Lord. They should also be precious to you and your fellow group members. Don’t let anyone look down on them; they may have legitimate reasons for being absent during COVID-19.
4. Welcome them back warmly.
Extend grace to your “drifters.” Some will feel awkward and will wonder how they will be received if they show up again in the group. Encourage them to come back, welcome them warmly, and let them know they are welcome.
5. Provide a study guide for every group member.
You may want to look into LifeWay’s Daily Discipleship Guide. It has five daily studies that follow the group’s Bible study session.
Delivering or mailing one to absent group members will give them a tool to help them stay engaged in God’s Word daily. It is one way to fight the drift away from Bible study with the group.
It’s as critical as ever that we stay engaged with our group members. Not only are we in a pandemic, but we’re also in full-swing holiday season when many are experiencing fear and anxiety. Don’t let your group members fall through the cracks.
KEN BRADDY (@kenbraddy) is LifeWay’s Director of Sunday School and is a 30-year veteran of church education ministry. He is a blogger, author, and practitioner – serving a church in the Nashville area as its director of Sunday School and discipleship ministries. Ken also manages LifeWay’s adult ongoing Bible study series. This article originally appeared on kenbraddy.com.