We are reemerging from a pandemic. And we need community. Some or all of your small group has been meeting virtually. So now that your group is meeting in person again, how do you relaunch your group after COVID?
1. Excitement to See Your Group After COVID
We missed each other! And it’s good to tell others how glad we are to see them after a months-long absence. You should be excited to see your group again in person—feel free to celebrate.
2. Relational On-ramps After COVID
Being isolated changes how we relate to people. Our social skills may be rusty.
So consider how you can provide on-ramps back into relationship:
- Simple on-ramps: catching up in the day-to-day details of their past few weeks (perhaps through an ice-breaker question in the gathering)
- Deep on-ramps: asking intentional questions about how they are doing spiritually (personally, before group, or during prayer time)
- Personal on-ramps: giving individual attention to someone (after the gathering or getting together for a meal)
- Fun on-ramps: laughing, playing games, or enjoying food together to reinstill the enjoyment of your friendship (being outside or grilling work great for this)
3. Watching Your Group After COVID
A leader recently shared with me that he was excited about his group meeting in person again soon. But the main skill he wanted to show in the coming weeks is watchfulness: he wanted to be attentive to the details of how those in his group were acting as they returned.
We can watch for:
- sensitivities (to the larger group, to topics, etc.)
- relational distance or resistance
- sins that have snuck back into their life
- hurts or sufferings they share
- what other resources are informing them other than church and real-life community (social media, etc.)
- spoken and unspoken expectations of community
No one is completely the same as they were a year ago. And we need to attend to what’s changed and how we can love them now.
4. Listening to Your Group After COVID
The best way to reinstate a relationship is by listening. What are they thinking about right now? How are they feeling? What are they burdened for? Who are they concerned about? What are they praying about? And how do they want to keep growing in this season?
5. Praying for Your Group After COVID
Our community is not about our community. Our community is about God. We go deeper with each other so that we can be deeper with God. And perhaps the best way to do this as a group is to pray.
Now that you are face-to-face, you may have more time or more capacity to be vulnerable about your prayer requests. And you can help others make lead with thanksgiving and praise.
Make sure to protect prayer time together as a group. And praise God together while you also offer him fresh needs. During the week, pray for your group. And feel free to let them know that you’re doing so.
Not Just a New Season, A New Group
Gathering in person may feel both normal and unusual.
- Normal because this is the way relationships are built to work best.
- Unusual because this is actually a “new” group from one year ago. We’ve faced new challenges, suffered new trials, and come out the other side as different people than we were before. Additionally, our group may not even have the exact same members as it did a year ago.
So be patient with yourself and your group (1 Thess. 5:14). You will need time to relaunch back into the new normal of life together. But what a joy to be finding hope together again—face-to-face.