Life feels chaotic and crazy right now as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Nothing is normal as many of us work remotely and just about everything feels upside down. Pandemic is now a word we use regularly and our new vocabulary includes coronavirus and social distancing. 2020 has brought us an unexpected reality as we work to figure out how to continue to be the Church.
Part of our new normal includes social distancing. We’re supposed to stay at least 6 feet away from other people to avoid contracting COVID-19. This means most churches are no longer meeting in person but meeting remotely. This also means ministry looks very different.
How do we do ministry remotely?
Ministry involves people, so this sudden change to an online platform feels very limiting to many churches. How do we do ministry without people? The amazing thing about technology today is that although we can’t be physically connected, we can still maintain close contact through other avenues.
Holding services online and even communicating with our congregation through social media can initially feel like a lot of work. But we know that different can at first feel uncomfortable. We’ll all get the hang of it eventually. By the time we are comfortable with our new normal, COVID-19 will be under control, we’ll be meeting in person again, and hopefully, we will have learned some new ways to minister and reach people for the Kingdom.
People are looking for connection, community, and reassurance that everything is going to be alright. While we can’t replicate what they would experience in person, serving and worshipping together, by posting often, we CAN help us all feel more connected. Work with your staff to post something on your church’s social media (and your personal social media) every day or even more than once a day.
Be Positive and Encouraging
Every time we turn on the TV it seems we’re hearing more bad news. Every update feels like things are getting worse! Your people need to hear the good news that God is still in control and none of this is a surprise to Him. They are already checking the news and listening to press conferences, they need to hear uplifting information from you and your staff, even if it’s recorded remotely from your living room, that will remind them of the Truth.
While they want to be encouraged they also want helpful information to get through this crisis. So if you hear of stores that have early morning hours for just seniors to shop, then post about that. If there are restaurants that are offering free delivery or websites that can be helpful for parents homeschooling their eLearning students, share that info. We need to stay connected and help each other in whatever way we can. These posts of positive, helpful information help balance out all the negative news they are hearing all day long.
You don’t need to be the only one posting or sending out communication. Your congregation needs to hear from your staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. Work together to create content that is united but also allows each staff member to have a voice. Your youth want to hear from your youth pastor and your families need direction and encouragement from your children’s minister. Invest time in communicating personally with your staff, and then lead them to each invest in communicating with their lead volunteers. Then they can encourage those lead volunteers to reach out to and communicate personally with a small group of members. Make sure the communication is not in person, but through phone calls, emails, text messages, or even FaceTime or other video chat tools. Reach out and connect with your leaders. There is a very organic and powerful trickle-down effect when we invest in a group and then commission them to invest in a group and lead them to do the same. This is how the church stays connected.
Make the Personal Connection
Although your time will be filled with the new challenges of creating content for an online service and social media as you work remotely, don’t miss the opportunity to reach out to individuals. Perhaps there is a member of your congregation who can’t work. Call them and see what they might need. Call your elderly members and see if they need someone to drop groceries off at their door. Write a letter of encouragement to the owner of a small business who had to lay off employees. Email the healthcare workers who attend your church to encourage them and let them know you’re praying for them. Use this opportunity to speak encouragement and life into the lives of individuals in your congregation who desperately need it during this time. Just use means other than face-to-face interaction.
This season is hard. There is no way to sugarcoat that. However, there is so much good at the same time. It’s stretching us all and bringing out the best in many people. You see neighbors checking in on neighbors. You hear stories of people posting ideas to help teachers, parents, and students with eLearning, families buying takeout from local restaurants to make sure they stay in business, and people dropping toilet paper off at someone’s house who posted on online that they have run out and can’t find any at the store!
Use this time of doing ministry remotely to build community in a new way and try some things you may have never tried before. This crazy season can be an incredible time of growth and community building for your congregation, despite the fact that you may meet remotely for weeks! It starts with you though. It starts with your church leadership and the way they handle the uncertainty of this time.