COVID 19 is an opportunity for the small church to develop leaders for small groups.

We have a deep responsibility for shepherding the whole congregation. Many small churches resist having events in the homes of members because they have a church building for those things. Why come to their home for anything about the church? It takes time to clean and prepare. Who knows how long people would keep coming to their house? Getting ready all the time is hard. Many small beautiful church members have an intense loyalty to the facilities that they and often their parents have long invested in.

In the context of COVID many churches have moved to online videos and are not having services in their buildings. We are in danger of some people being lost because they are not interacting with anyone on a spiritual level for months. How do we make sure that all our members and close contacts stay engaged and growing spiritually?  This is why we consider COVID Small groups and developing leaders.  We aim at Shepherding the whole congregation.

There are two issues and opportunities

  • Developing leaders.
  • Making sure that people who are concerned during COVID have a group worship service and a level of pastoral care.

These are some steps you can consider taking in your local churches to integrate a video service with people isolated at home. You will need to adapt these to your local context.

First lay out a possible plan.

I have included a suggested one here.

  1. Map your members geographically and list the number of people per household.
    1. Use a physical map or an electronic map
    2. Determine the groupings – which families are within 15 to 20 minutes of each other.
    3. Aim for groups with at least 2 families and no more than 10 people.
    4. Try to pair up a single person or a 2 person couple with a family with children when possible.
    5. Groups as small as 3 to 4 people are OK.
  2. Volunteer form – Write up a leader guide and volunteer form.
    1. You will need a designated leader for each group.
    2. The leader guide shows the basic outline of activities for a Sunday morning house worship using a Video sermon and or singing.
      1. Suggested small group worship.
        • Include prayer for every member
        • Include scripture reading by someone in the group.
        • Announcements can be printed or a part of the video.
        • Discuss the sermon after the video – “what will you change this week because of the sermon?”
        • If there are children present – there should be a story or illustration for them.
    3. The leader should report to the pastor on the attendance each week and any major issues with the group.
    4. Make sure to put a time limit on this position. I suggest 1 month renewable.
    5. Make training a part of the expectations. I suggest 1 hour a week with the pastor and other leaders.
Get input and unity.

Discuss the shepherding the whole congregation plan with your local church board. Get their input on the various aspects of the plan. Make adjustments. Once they have unity about this move on to the next step.

Implement the plan
  1. Appoint leaders for these groups
    1. Use your judgment about who is the best suited for leadership.
      1. Consider using Teens or young people as well as older members.
    2. Call them and ask them to pray if they are willing to serve this way.
    3. If they are willing to pray about this send them a copy of the volunteer form showing them the expectations and the length of time commitment.
      1. I suggest that this be for one month and renew it each month.
    4. Give them one or two days to pray about this. Ask them if you can call them again in 2 days. Most will say yes.
    5. Call them back and verify they are willing.
      1. Pray with them and consecrate them to this work.
  2. Give the new leaders the names and contact information for the families they will be responsible for.
    1. Create a volunteer form that shows the expectations for a volunteer home.
    2. Suggested standards.
      • A one month commitment. Can be renewed.
      • Clean home – like this.
        • Chairs or seats for at least 10 people.
        • dishes washed up before the group comes
        • no loose clothing in the TV room where the video is shown.
        • Internet capacity and the ability to show a video on a TV.
    3. Ask them to contact potential host families. It is better if the leader uses a home other than their own if at all possible.
    4. Give them the Host Family volunteer form and expectations.
      1. Verify the expectations with each leader – that they agree with them or if they see improvements.
    5. Follow up with the leaders to see if they contact host families who have internet and are willing to clean their home.

This type of a plan helps to build leadership capacity in your members and helps to shepherd the whole congregation and encourage those in danger of backsliding.

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