It is 41 degrees outside, partly cloudy and there are flowers growing in my lawn. Welcome to spring in Rochester. But spring doesn't just mean warmer weather, budding trees, and fixing the lawn mower.
With spring comes exams and papers for school, spring sports leagues, the ever present virus spreading its way from one person to the next, and weariness from a year long grind through winter and the weekly routines. Now that it is warm out (above freezing in Rochester) people want to get out.
Last night my group met, well half of us that is. One group member missed for her daughter's game, one couple missed for a spring vacation, a couple people had to work late, one person was home hacking up a lung, and 2 others missed because of chronic illness. And then there are the people who haven't attended all year and rarely respond to a text or phone call.
Have you ever experienced a night like that? Have you ever experienced a semester like that?
So how do you ride the attendance rollercoaster in your group?
Here are 4 reminders when people don't show up to your group
1. "It's Not About You"
When people don't show up to group, as a leader it is easy to take it personal. But most people don't miss group because of you.
At one point someone was compelled about their need for community, signed up for group on Sunday, and had great intentions of getting involved. But now their desire for community conflicts with everything else on their plate.
2. Keep Them On Your List
When people don't show up to your group, it doesn't mean they are done with community. For many, their schedules or their priorities have changed.
We believe God has designed all of us to be in community, and life truly is better when we are connected. You may be the only one in their life encouraging them to be part of a Biblical community. By keeping them on your list, the weekly email, the occasional phone call and text keeps them from being forgotten.
When you make that occasional phone call, chances are they are not thinking "I wish these people would stop caring for me."
3. Concentrate on Who Showed Up
Before you beat yourself or your group members up when attendance takes a dip, remind yourself of the goal of Community Groups.
Are those who are attending your group applying the Bible to their life, building relationships, and caring for each other? Stop and thank God for the opportunity you have to create an environment where people can experience Biblical community.
In fact, when only 4 people show up to group you may have a deeper conversation than you ever would have had when the room was overflowing.
4. Stay Focused on More and Better
There is your Community Group and then there are people who are a ministry of your group. They are not necessarily the same.
Some people came once or twice and you haven't heard from them since. Then there is the occasional week when all of the stars align, and they walk through the door.
Those who attend your group the majority of the time are your Community Group. Everyone else, you could say, is a ministry of your group. God has placed these people in your life for a reason, so don't give up on them. Keep reaching out to them, pray for them, and help them when needed. This is your group's opportunity to serve, even if they never end up returning.
Ideally, everyone would sign the beginning in the trimester group agreement and follow through with their commitment, but we don't live in a perfect world. People are flaky and you may be their only connection to Jesus. You can't control their decisions, but there is a reason that God has place you in their path.
God is using you one person at a time, flaky or consistent, to make more and better followers of Jesus.
Some other resources you might find helpful:
Struggling with group discussion? Here are some ideas to help boost participation.
We can demonstrate a respect for the people in our group by showing respect for their time in a tangible way: by starting and ending on time.