By Ken Braddy
During the COVID-19 pandemic, people have found it harder to have what one Harvard Business Review article has dubbed “casual collisions.”
When people were together in a group pre-COVID, these kinds of random, spontaneous, organic relationships just happened. During our year of social distancing, we’ve lost the spontaneity that was a hallmark of in-person gatherings.During our year of social distancing, we’ve lost the spontaneity that was a hallmark of in-person gatherings. — @kenbraddy Click To Tweet
For more than a year now, pastors have been working through how to care for their members when they cannot be with them physically. In a recent Lifeway Research survey among hundreds of pastors, the respondents indicated that pastoral care from a distance was among their top five concerns. This certainly applies to maintaining community.
“Connecting with people is still a struggle. It’s tough to reach out to folks at the time they want,” one pastor said. “Phone and Zoom ministry is soul-sucking in a way that in-person ministry is not.”
And it’s not just pastors who feel this way. I interact regularly through training and events with Bible study group leaders from around the country who feel this way. They are concerned about the connectedness of their groups. You may be, too.
There are four easy ways you can foster more connection as group gatherings begin to see some normalcy.
Restart regular fellowships.
As your group continues to meet post-COVID, don’t forget to restart regular fellowships. A monthly outing for lunch after church, a game night, an afternoon at the movies, or any number of other social events can create casual collisions among people.As your group continues to meet post-COVID, don’t forget to restart regular fellowships. — @kenbraddy Click To Tweet
Begin “Tables of 8.”
Social distancing restrictions may be lifting in some places, but in others there are restrictions still in place that limit the number of people who can meet.
“Tables of Eight” is a fun way to divide up your group into smaller ones. In a Sunday School class, for example, place four couples—or a mixture of couples and individuals—into pods of eight people. The group then decides (1) which person or couple will host a get-together each month (2) where the group meets—sometimes the group meets in a home, restaurant, park, or perhaps virtually.“Tables of Eight” is a fun way to divide up your group into smaller ones to foster closer connections. Click To Tweet
The main goal is to get together as a smaller group of eight people. This definitely helps increase those casual collisions so important to group life.
Use more relational teaching procedures.
You can increase casual collisions during your group’s Bible study by placing people in smaller “buzz groups.” Breaking the group into smaller ones allows people an opportunity to respond to a question, work on an assignment, or pray together. Many buzz groups max out at four to five people.
Make Zoom work for you mid-week.
Don’t forget to continue using everyone’s favorite pandemic meeting tool, Zoom. Scheduling a coffee break with your group members mid-week, or sharing a meal together virtually, are just two ways to create those casual collisions between Bible study meetings.As we emerge from a year of social isolation, casual collisions are going to be more important than ever as we regather and regroup. — @kenbraddy Click To Tweet
As we emerge from a year of social isolation, casual collisions are going to be more important than ever as we regather and regroup. When your groups begin to meet in person again (they may already be doing this), create ways to help people make important relationship connections.
Ken 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. He is the author of several books, including Breathing Life Into Sunday School.