Post-Covid Small Group Ministry

By Joel Comiskey, Groups that Thrive, 2022

We are now living in a post-Covid world. Yes, the disease still lingers, but it’s mostly treated as the Flu or Common Cold. Many mysteries remain, like how to treat long-term Covid, but for the most part, life has returned to normal. Some mask mandates still exist on planes and airports, but wearing a mask is now optional.

But what about the church? Most churches were hit hard during Covid. I’ve talked to experts and read reports about the effects of Covid on the church. Many believe that the average evangelical church lost 25% of its people during Covid while megachurches have lost about 50%. Everyone feels the pain of post-Covid ministry.

The good news is that God is sovereign and has used Covid-19 to purge his church and develop his remnant. House-to-house ministry is part of that renewal process. Many have seen the importance of cell ministry because of Covid-19. Where are you in your post-Covid ministry?

I’m coaching some churches that are starting over again with a pilot group, and I encourage them to do so. I recently ministered in a large church that lost 150 of its 300 cell groups during Covid. Many of their leaders were not tech-savvy and found it hard to transition to Zoom groups. My message to the church was comfort and exhortation. I felt the Holy Spirit’s encouragement to exhort the members to get back into face-to-face cells and for the former leaders to return to leadership.

What about those in Zoom cells? I urge all churches to return to face-to-face groups. Zoom cells were a great alternative during the Covid, but they lack physical touch, a full-blooded community, eating together, and many other qualitative values. In my local church, we have encouraged all groups to return to face-to-face groups.

But what about those who were gathered during Covid who can’t attend the normal group? One alternative is hybrid groups. That is, all groups meet face to face, but certain people might be “zoomed in” via a notebook computer or larger screen. While the group should meet face-to-face, they have the option to allow people in different countries who don’t yet have a local church or elderly who can’t leave their house. In other words, the priority must be meeting face-to-face, while allowing exceptions to join via Zoom.  

Most Sunday celebrations, while meeting in person, still allow people to join via Facebook. Something similar can take place with hybrid groups.

For September, we’ll be exploring post-Covid small group ministry. We’ll ask twenty leaders and pastors to blog about post-Covid small group ministry. If you’d like to receive these blogs in your email inbox, click here. We’ll cover:

  • September 04-10: Biblical priority of face-to-face community in cell groups and celebration. God has used Covid to call his people back to remnant ministry.  
  • September 11-17: Believing that God has a plan for his church and has used Covid-19 for his glory and purpose. He is the Lord of his church and knows what is going on. What is the silver lining in your church? 
  • September 18-24: Opportunity for hybrid cell groups who are meeting face-to-face. That is, it’s possible to allow certain ones to Zoom into the group
  • September 25 to October 01:  Starting over versus refreshing existing cells. Some smaller churches need to simply start over. This is a great opportunity for the lead pastor to bring together closed groups into a pilot group. Other churches need to simply refresh what they have, exhorting all cells to start meeting face-to-face.