Discipleship & social distancing: When my small group can’t meet

March 18, 2020

“How do I disciple our small group when we can’t meet?”

That was the question that went through my mind when I received yesterday’s news that our church was putting our groups on “hiatus” due to COVID-19. This is the right call since our government leaders have asked us to keep our distance.

Many are saying this is new territory for the church. But is it?

We are not the first generation to have to disciple over a distance. After all, the New Testament epistles were written to churches or church leaders for the purpose of discipling them even over a long distance.

Just because we cannot be in the same room does not mean our group has to stop. Here are some tips to help you keep leading while your group is on hiatus.

  1. Keep caring.
    Group leader, you are on the front line of pastoral care in your church. Check in with group members frequently during the crisis. Ask how they are doing and how you can pray for them. Make sure they have their needs met. Personal touches, even by text message, are priceless in uncertain times.
  2. Keep teaching.
    People need the encouragement of the Word of God now more than anything else. Your group can still meet for Bible study virtually. Use Google Hangouts, Zoom or another meeting platform to meet at your scheduled time via video.
  3. Keep reaching.
    Encourage your group members to serve their neighbors. Suggest that they reach out to at-risk or elderly neighbors to see if they can run errands for them. They can also offer to help via their neighborhood’s Facebook or Nextdoor groups. Encourage them to use these times to verbally share the gospel as they are meeting needs.
  4. Keep praying.
    Invite your group to pray together virtually throughout the week using the platforms already mentioned. Host a virtual meetup and pray through the Psalms, interceding for the power of God. You can also pray missionally for your neighbors using an app like Bless Every Home.
  5. Finally, keep your group informed.
    Group messaging apps like Band or GroupMe enable you to check in, share prayer requests and give information about what’s happening. You could also start a private Facebook group.

Keeping your distance doesn’t have to keep you from discipling. You can leverage technology to stay in each other’s lives and stay in the Word!


by Brian Upshaw  
/  Disciple-Making  /  Baptist State Convention of North Carolina

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