We are so excited to see the many churches who have stepped up in the last few weeks to transition to online services and a staff that works from home. You have continued the core functions of the church, including worship, teaching, prayer, and encouragement. You have let people know that the church can adapt and will continue to be an important part of people’s lives in the midst of these uncertain times. But the work can’t stop there. Now more than ever, there are practical needs to meet and people who need care. Here are some practical steps to take as you begin to serve your congregation and community in the midst of the storm.
Continue to communicate through all your channels so your people stay in the loop. The church should be sending practical information to people about staying safe, staying connected, how to reach out with needs, and how they can serve.
- Many churches have created a webpage just for COVID 19 information, including info on how to watch services online, send prayer requests, sign into online giving, and the latest local updates.
- Vary your methods of communication to make sure you reach as many as possible – website, emails, and social media are great places to start.
2. Online Giving
Since we cannot pass offering plates right now, it is critical that you continue engage with your members and transition them to online giving. Simply put, the church cannot fund the ministry God has called them to without the continued generosity of its members. These steps will encourage and enable people to make this important leap.
- Communicate the ministry work you are doing, so people can understand how important it is to give.
- Make a step-by-step video on how to set up online giving so that those less confident in their technical skills can still participate.
- Set up a giving hotline where you can directly help people set up online giving in real time and train your staff to answer basic questions about the security of your online giving solution.
- Utilize one of the extremely easy and accessible text-to-give platforms (like Online Giving, Vision2, Ministry Brands, PushPay, or Txt2Give) to remove the barriers for giving – people can simply send a text from their cellphone to give!
- For those with members where online giving is just not an option, consider a mail campaign and include mailable giving envelopes.
3. Spiritual Support
The combination of fear, uncertainty, economic hardship, and isolation is already taking a toll on people. The Church has the opportunity to meet many spiritual needs simply by being available and reaching out with intention.
- Create a prayer hotline: a dedicated phone number for people to call in with prayer requests. If at all possible, have this phone number be answered by real live people who are available to listen, connect, and have a compassionate conversation.
- Engage in intentional conversation. Pull a list from your ChMS database of all those who have attended church regularly in the last few months and divide it between staff, elders, and key volunteers. Call or even FaceTime people to find out how they are. People need to just talk right now, and many people (especially older members) are longing for meaningful conversation.
- Provide extra care for parents. Parents are beyond stretched with the COVID-19 situation. Overnight they have become their children’s school teachers, coaches, and Sunday school teachers on top of all regular parenting duties. Be a resource for parents to lean on for support as they in turn teach and provide emotional support for their children. For example, consider providing a 30 day LEGO challenge with a new prompt each day that families can look forward to.
4. Physical Needs
Leverage the church’s network and communication outlets to meet physical needs. The church can shine as a place to connect “need-havers” with “need-meeters.”
- Create a virtual jobs board to connect people looking for work with people looking to hire.
- Create a resource sharing board where people can give, request, or trade items. Who has extra TP but needs some eggs?
- Many sick or at-risk people will need help getting groceries and supplies. Connect these people with those willing to shop and deliver groceries.
- Leverage your food pantry. If your church’s doors are closed, donate your food stores to a local pantry that is remaining open to serve those in need.
- Remember the vulnerable. There has already been an increase in child and domestic abuse cases due to the added stress of the virus and quarantine. Here is a resource to help your staff recognize signs and take steps to help.
5. Community Support
There are many needs right now that extend beyond church members, where the church can be the hands and feet of Jesus. Here are some ways to get involved on a larger scale:
- Care for neighbors. When people are out for a walk, have them knock on doors and check on people (remember to stand back 6 feet after knocking), or leave encouraging notes in mailboxes. Encourage community involvement from afar like this “Bear Hunt.” Decorate your driveway or sidewalk with messages and art for neighbors to see while out on their walks.
- Talk to your local first responders and healthcare community to see what they need. Organize volunteers to make masks, provide meals, and pray for those on the front lines.
- Partner with local organizations already providing needed services to expand their reach. Strategic ministry partnerships will reduce the burden on your staff to create new programs when they already exist.
We hope that some of these tips are helpful for you as you serve, and we would love to hear what you are doing as you adapt and serve people in these times. If you are looking for more info about Online giving or other resources, please let us know! It is our passion and our purpose to help churches implement technology effectively and we are here to serve and partner with you. Contact us at [email protected] or call us at (866)393-5046.
Written by: Melody Parlett, Managing Director, Enable Ministry Partners