Crisis. Pandemic. Global health emergency.

These words have changed our reality in a few short months.

As ministry leaders, we’re trying to find a new ministry norm. We’re trying to instill hope, truth, and love to the families in our community—all while caring for our own family.

Oh, and did I mention some of the most important people in our ministry? Our small group leaders—or as we like to call them, SGLs.

Small group leaders are the people that show up predictably for a kid, get to know their world, and cheer them on. They are The Dream Team! The very team we can activate now to lean in, show up, and connect with kids and families in a different but meaningful way. And it starts with us.

We just celebrated Easter in a way that has never been done before. But I wonder how similar this Easter was to the very first one. Imagine all of Jesus’ disciples and family huddled in the upper room.  Scared. Uncertain. Isolated.

But, then they heard the good news. Jesus had risen! And they wanted everyone to know.

8 ways to stay connected with your SGLs

Just as Jesus empowered his disciples to show up and love others, we can empower our small group leaders to do the same.  No building required.

And it starts with us. As we show up for our Small Group Leaders, we demonstrate how they can show up for their few. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

1. Send a handwritten note

Snail mail is a great way to show volunteers that you’re thinking of them. Make it specific and relevant to what is going on around them.  Let them know you’re praying for them and their families.

2. Call them

Texts are nice, but people crave human interaction.  A phone call or facetime are more intentional. Through this, you can instill hope in the middle of a difficult season.

3. Stay relevant

Every time we blink there is a new app or social networking tool. And they’re a great way to stay connected. Use Instagram or Facebook to celebrate your small group leaders. We call this our Dream Team Spotlight.

Have them send you a picture, a few fun facts and celebrate how they serve. Then get on their feeds and leave comments and likes. Let them know you are FOR them. It really shows value.

4. Zoom small groups

Maybe we can’t meet physically, but small groups can still happen. And it doesn’t have to depend on you! Give your small group leaders space to be creative.

Use password protected Zoom meetings to engage small group leaders with their kids. Provide the Bible lesson and empower your small group leaders to lead the discussion time like they would at church. This helps everyone feel re-connected.

5. Surprise social distance visits

Surprise them with these social distancing ideas. Make a poster, drive to their house and call them to come outside.  There you are with a poster saying how much you miss them! They will love it!

Invite small group kids to send videos to you so you can send them to their small group leader.  They miss the kids in their circle just as much as we miss them.

Invite a small group to create cards for their small group leaders.  A kindergartner’s self-portrait on the fridge is sure to brighten anyone’s day!

6. Embrace the hard moments

This is a scary time. Do they have someone they’re worried could get sick? Are they dealing with job loss or financial strain? They need you to embrace their hard moments. So show up, listen and let them know you care.

7. Send email updates

Encourage them through a weekly, biweekly or monthly email. Consider how you can pastor them with a devotional or message God has placed on your heart.

Just be careful! Their inbox is already full of school and community updates. Keep it brief. But keep it meaningful.

8. Surprise and delight

Don’t forget life moments like birthdays, anniversaries, births, and losses. Use services like UBER, DoorDash, or GrubHub, and send dinner to make it special. A great way to love and care for them.

Want more ideas?

Here are some resources that can help.

  1. The Orange Kids Podcast! Listen to Episode 21 where we discussed communicating with volunteers.
  2. Lead Small: Five Big Ideas Every Small Group Leader Needs to Know
  3. Don’t Quit by Jessica Bealer and Gina McClain
  4. Weekly for communicating with SGLs

In a crisis like this, it’s easy to try and figure it out alone. But God didn’t call us to do this alone. It might be hard to find a “norm” in this season, but there’s nothing wrong with learning together—in a socially distant sort of way.