It’s wonderful how technology has made us citizens of a global community that reaches far outside our church walls and local ministry. But it can be overwhelming to hear all the news from around the world as the new novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to spread. European countries on lockdown. Images of empty streets in New York City. Students and travelers stuck in foreign countries.
Where does one begin to look to make a difference when the challenges are widespread and global? And the best thing it seems we can actually do is stay home?
You start local.
Use existing systems and organizations to identify needs quickly and create a plan. Call them and ask: How can we support you? What do you wish community members knew right now? What do you need the most?
Many of these organizations are extremely busy right now, so be patient. If they don’t need your assistance now, they need your community’s prayers—and they might need your help later. Cultivating these relationships now, if you haven’t already, will pave the way for ministry in the future.
Contact your local government officials, police officers, and first responders and offer to be of service. Your parish or congregation may be able to provide assistance in ways the government cannot.
Connect with the medical professionals, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities in your community, especially those who are members of your congregation. Be a voice for them and help get important messages out to the public. Encourage your people to listen to and follow their health advisor’s instructions. Many of the changes we’re making to our daily routines are temporary, and if done right, will save lives.
Many local organizations already do some kind of ministry that’s needed right now. Whether it’s feeding children, sheltering the homeless, or teaching life skills, more people than ever are likely to need their services in the coming days. See what assistance your church can provide.
Schools & Colleges
If you haven’t already, reach out to your local schools and colleges. Many have already closed their doors, and students who can’t go home are scrambling for accommodations and meals.
Connect with local industry leaders and business owners to see who’s facing unforeseen hardships. What are their struggles? Who’s had to lay people off? And who can’t get enough help?
Conversation & Prayer
Keep communicating with your people. Whether through email, text, or your church app, your congregation needs to hear about these conversations, even if there is not something they can do yet. Consider sending out a guiding prayer and/or lists of requests for your congregation to lift up to God. Encourage them to pray for those in authority and the tough decisions they have to make. Ask your congregants to prepare their hearts for the coming days when the needs will be many and the opportunities for your ministry to share God’s love and provision will abound.