It’s amazing how quickly normality can be cancelled! All “normal” best practices for Sunday School and Small Groups have been turned upside down in recent days, which has left most church leaders in our culture scurrying about trying to determine how we are going to continue discipleship in a COVID-19 world. Yet, there is one thing we must remember: this didn’t catch God by surprise and He has a plan that includes us! Here are some thoughts and resources that could benefit you as you move forward with the mission to make disciples.
While technology is a blessing, it can be overwhelming to volunteer teachers and leaders. I know you know this, but now you have a new reality placed upon you. Your discipleship role now includes teaching your leaders how to use technology and other means to communicate God’s Word, encourage Bible study, and maintain strong relationships. But, we must keep technology in its proper place by helping our group leaders understand that technology cannot replace relationships; it can only supplement or reinforce what is already in place. Therefore, we must figure out ways to move beyond using text and email only as our primary technological sources. Our people need to hear voices and see faces if at all possible.
With that said, BACE has compiled a list of practices, ideas, and resources. These resources were shared in collaboration with other church leaders, many of whom are BACE members. Use the ideas and resources to help you teach and equip your leaders to continue on with discipleship while we remain distanced from one another.
Your Opportunity to Teach and Remind
Consider these new challenges as an opportunity to teach or remind leaders of the invaluable role they play in making disciples through Sunday School and small groups. You have the opportunity to . . .
- Teach/Remind them how to help their groups communicate with one another.
- Teach/Remind them how to help their groups remain in God’s Word.
- Teach/Remind them how to lead their groups to care for one another.
- Teach/Remind them how to lead their groups to become passionate prayer warriors.
- Teach/Remind them how to lead their groups to identify ministry opportunities in their neighborhoods.
- Teach/Remind them how to direct their groups to look for ways to have gospel conversations.
One Caution About Moving Forward.
Our senior pastor reminded us in staff meeting this week that things probably won’t look the same when we return to “normal.” We have to be aware that decisions we make now could impact how our church will look in the future. Some of those changes will be for the better; yet some could cause your church to take a path that leads to unhealthy practices in the future. I heard a news report this week regarding movie theaters closing due to COVID-19. It was stated that we were going to witness the demise of an industry if newly released movies bypassed theaters and were made available for online rental during this time. It was stated that, “If people realize they can watch a first-run movie in the comfort of their home, why would they come back to a movie theater?”
As we make decisions we should ask a similar question, “Will what we do now, make people so comfortable that they won’t have a desire to gather back together?” We must proceed with wisdom and caution. Let’s use this time to increase opportunities for the gospel, for discipleship, and for igniting a new hunger for gathering together as the church.
Bruce Raley, Executive Pastor at First Baptist Church, Hendersonville, TN state it very well, “I told our staff yesterday that we must not focus on what we can’t do, but focus on what we can do. Ministry will not look that same. But it will not be reduced, it must be redirected. . . We are going full steam ahead.”
We Need Each Other
As we move forward through this crisis, we can’t afford to disconnect from one another as leaders either. I want to challenge you to search for members of BACE who live near you, contact your state conventions for ideas and resources, and stay in touch with church leaders in your area. Keep sharing ideas, asking questions, talking with one another, and looking for ways to encourage and support one another as we move forward in this new circumstance in which we have all found ourselves.