I talked with a student and her parent the other day. The student had one complaint: She felt left out of the group and that no one missed them.
Sometimes the reason is that they just FEEL left out. The students in the group and you as the leader have made every effort to reach out to them and include them but they just don’t accept your attempts.
This student was different.
She told me that she hadn’t been contacted by the group leader or anyone in the group once.
For the last six months.
If we’re going to be reaching out to students and showing them we care, then we need to be contacting them when they miss a small group session. We need to show them that it matters to us when they aren’t around. Even if we miss a week or two of contacting them, we can’t let a student go a month without hearing from us. And certainly not six months.
If a student doesn’t feel missed, they won’t come back. I’ve seen it happen.
I get that you’ve got a full time job, kids of your own to raise, and other obligations other than small group. But don’t let this important part of leading a small group get away from you. Otherwise you’ll find yourself without a small group to minister to!
Here’s what you can do to make sure students get contacted when they are missed (before you even dismiss from small group!):
- Arrange for one specific student who is present to contact another specific student who is absent. Keep that up until you’ve covered every student who missed.
- Send out a text at the end of small group saying you missed the student who isn’t there. That way you don’t get to doing something else and forget later.
- Have your students write a postcard for each person who missed and address them. Put them in the mail (after you stamp them!) that same day so you don’t lay them down and forget them.
- Have everyone call an absent student right then to see why they’ve missed (it may be something you need to know about!) and let them know you hope they come back next week.
Show students they matter to you. Contact them when they miss small group.
Oh, the good news! That student was here Sunday. Why? Someone called her and told her she was missed and they wanted them back. So she came back. Pretty cool huh?