One of the possible side effects of COVID’s isolation is the number of congregation members that we might have lost track of. Nowadays, that phenomenon may be connected to some folks’ consistent online worship attendance. Virtually invisible to us, these good people may think of themselves as connected and active, but the rest of us might not realize this is true.
If this sounds familiar, could you assemble an unofficial group—a Care Corps?—that got together, maybe bi-monthly? With a list of all congregation members in hand, you’d ask each other the simple question, “What’s going on with (*The Sitze Family)?” Aggregating your knowledge, you would get a fair idea of who might have actually disassociated themselves from your church. You’d also identify those who still felt they were a part of the congregation. How they were doing. Your group’s informal conversations would end with prayer—for each other, for those who we have identified and for the entire congregation.
This possibility may be especially suited to older adults in your church: If you’ve been part of the congregation for a longer period of time, your relationships may already be wide and deep. You may already be known as non-threatening, encouraging, faithful and kind.
In consultation with your pastor, the group could also personally check on those who might be in the gradual process of leaving your congregation. Trained in the arts of conversational listening and caring, you would contact imagined or identified “inactives” and inquire about their well-being. No implicit scolding or shaming—just heartfelt concern and appreciation. Maybe expressing how their presence was genuinely missed.
Nothing fancy here, but it seems possible that, by these regular caring conversations, you could stay aware of each other.
Willing to try this…?
*Years ago, in another part of the country, our family stopped worshipping on Sunday mornings. No one contacted us during that six-month absence until one observant and kind member called and asked, “What’s going on?” That conversation helped us straighten out our thinking and return to our place in that small congregation.
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