By Ken Braddy
In March 2020, the COVID-19 physical/social distancing began. Churches moved online, as did groups.
When summer began, some churches reopened worship. Most did not reopen groups at that time. But August and back-to-school time demonstrated that church members valued being together in groups, so more and more began meeting in person as they did in pre-COVID days.
And then COVID began to spike. Sometimes it spiked nationally after a holiday like Labor Day. Sometimes it spiked locally after a family reunion, or after a large number of people attended a sporting event sponsored by a school. But it spiked.
Now as we head into mid-November and the Thanksgiving holidays, more spikes are predicted.
If your Bible study group is meeting again, there’s one thing you need to do so your group thrives during COVID-19: Be flexible! Like my favorite childhood claymation character, Gumby, who is known for his flexibility, groups also need to be flexible.
My church’s Bible study groups reopened on campus in August when kids went back to school. We’ve been spared the effects of COVID-19 in our church—until recently.
This past weekend, two adult groups didn’t meet because members were exposed to a COVID-positive person in their midst. Several teenagers in our student group may have been exposed to COVID through school activities.
There are even a few more adults who have tested positive for COVID within our congregation. Your church may face the same challenge if it hasn’t already.
To ensure that your Bible teaching ministry is as Gumby-like as possible, consider doing these things:
1. Take things week-by-week and be flexible.
Although this sounds counterintuitive, long-term planning may be two weeks out. Remember, flexibility is the key.
2. Talk in general terms when you announce a COVID exposure.
It is my church’s policy not to disclose the names of people who’ve contracted COVID. Last weekend I sent email and text messages to two groups because one of their members had inadvertently exposed them to COVID the previous Sunday.
I simply told them, “You may have been exposed; please quarantine yourself.” I didn’t say, “So-and-so exposed your group to COVID.” I gave the group members only the critical information they needed.
3. Act quickly, but not with panic.
Within 30 minutes of my discovering the two COVID exposures, I had informed the pastor plus group leaders and their group members. They were informed via email and text messaging. Phone calls were also made.
4. Brush up on your Zoom skills.
Just because your group may have returned to the campus and you ended your Zoom Bible studies, don’t hang up your gloves just yet.
Be ready to pivot back to a Zoom online Bible study format if your group cannot meet because of an exposure to COVID. Discipleship shouldn’t take a week off! Keep your group meeting, just shift back to online for a short time.
I’d love to hear what your church has done/is doing with on-campus groups and exposures to COVID. Share your wisdom with the rest of us in the comments so we can all listen and learn from others in the trenches of group ministry.
KEN BRADDY (@kenbraddy) is LifeWay’s Director of Sunday School and is a 30-year veteran of church education ministry. He is a blogger, author, and practitioner – serving a church in the Nashville area as its director of Sunday School and discipleship ministries. Ken also manages LifeWay’s adult ongoing Bible study series. This article originally appeared on kenbraddy.com.