Sunday, March 1 was a typical day. You went to church looking forward to group time, eager to share a theme that you had not only worked hard to prepare for, but that you were also excited to apply to your life as you entered the spring.
But just a week later, life was anything but typical. Church services were canceled, and groups were not able to meet. Times changed, and they continue to change, moment by moment.
We now find ourselves under a “stay-at-home” order because of the spread of COVID-19. Groups can no longer gather in buildings or in homes. This can create stress and anxiety for you and your group.
Changes in life rhythms can also lead to anxiety about your own health, and the health of your family, friends and loved ones. Such stress can also result in changes in sleeping or eating habits, problems with maintaining focus and an increase in chronic health issues.
How can your groups function in the new normal? In 1 John 3:11, Jesus said, “For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.” But how can you love your group when gatherings are banned and everyone is in isolation?
Here are some suggestions that can alleviate some of the stress and pain:
- Call rather than text your group members on a regular basis. Hearing a voice when there is a feeling of isolation is more reassuring than looking at words.
- Set up a free Zoom account that allows video or voice interaction and also provides an easy group call to one number.
- Listen deeply. Hear what people are saying, as well as what is not being said. Ask questions that allow them to share rather than simply responding to questions with a “yes” or “no.”
- Determine what needs group members may have.
- Pray with them, and always point to Jesus.
Taking care of your group can help you cope with stress. As your group members help each other cope with stress, your group life will grow deeper.
EDITOR’S NOTE: If you or someone in your group is experiencing emotional distress related to the coronavirus, stay in contact and encourage them to call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) disaster distress helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor. If it is an emergency, dial 911.