Ministry in a Covid-19 World
One thing we all have in common is the sense that we never expected to be ministering in a situation like this pandemic. It was not anticipated nor expected. The swiftness of the pandemic has demanded a quick response. Everyone at every level of life, including the church asks, what are we going to do? While every church is unique and exists in a unique situation, I believe there may be a few things that all of us can do to minister effectively in these troubled times. Let me share a few thoughts with you that I hope will be helpful.
Perhaps we can have our own PPP plan: Prayer, Planning and People
Prayer: Our first response should be that of prayer. Without cost and just a little effort, we can organize our people to pray. Even though we cannot gather together for prayer, we can be praying together for wisdom and the encouragement of the Holy Spirit. There is no doubt that people feel a sense of disappointment, confusion, concern, and perhaps, hopelessness. The Apostle Paul wrote: “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12 (NIV) Have you considered ways to inform, organize and mobilize your people to pray? Let’s start there. You could publish prayer lists, requests, and prayers from the Scripture like: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 (NIV) This will help us to live as people of hope in the midst of the pandemic.
Plan: This is an opportunity for the church to respond in ways that prove your purpose and relevance. You need to plan and develop a strategy for your response. Here are some things to consider as you make your plan. The wisdom writer said: “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” Proverbs 15:22 (NIV) Using video or telephone conferencing, involve your staff and local leadership in creating a strategic response for meeting the needs of your congregation and community. Ask your people to pray for God to guide you in your planning. “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” Proverbs 16:3 (NIV)
Use existing ways of communicating with your congregation to instill hope and respond to one another’s needs. Be especially concerned for the senior adults, people who have health issues that put them at risk and those who have become unemployed.
Start with ministries that already exist in your church. What were you doing before the pandemic that met the needs of people in your community? You may have to think outside the box a bit, but is there a way to continue those ministries following the guidelines of social distancing? If you find that you have been a bit disconnected from your community, then now is the time to step out and find a way to help meet the spiritual, emotional, physical and safety needs of those in your community.
Maximize your social media involvement. Live stream or pre-record your worship services. Provide a daily devotional. Create a help line, where people can ask for prayer and/or assistance. Using Zoom, and other video link programs, help your small groups continue to meet. Encourage people to text and face-book one another.
Contact your local government agencies and see if there are ways your church can partner with them to provide community assistance. Consider coming alongside existing charities like food banks, transportation for the elderly, meals on wheels, etc.
In your planning, start thinking about ways you can continue to make a difference in our “post-pandemic world.” Concentrate on ways to strengthen relationships within the congregation and in your community.
People: Your greatest resource is your people, not your programs. Think of the talents and skills that are represented within your congregation. How can you mobilize them to meet the needs of others? Here are a few examples:
Parents who are normally at home with their children can share ideas with those who normally are at work regarding ways to keep the children entertained. Or Home-school parents can give advice to those who are now homeschooling for the first time.
Professionals, who are part of your congregation, can make themselves available via phone or your church Face Book page for advice.
Your staff or age group directors can come up with devotionals and activities for children, teens and families to enhance Bible study, family devotions, and fun things to do at home.
If you have folks who like to sew or make quilts, then find a pattern on-line for them to use and have them make masks for people to wear. Then get them to seniors and others who might need them.
Mechanics, people who can do yard work, or small handyman repairs can be organized to help seniors, and those who are ill with these special needs.
Create your own “uber force” to provide transportation to the doctor, grocery store, etc.
Involving people in ministry to others is a great way to help them avoid depression and helplessness. This is how we've come to understand and experience love. Of course, you must do these things cautiously and in line with social distancing but enabling people to enable others is putting love into action.: “Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God's love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.” 1 John 3:16-17 (MSG)
Whatever you determine to do, be an agent of God’s love and grace. Your efforts will not go unrewarded, and God will be glorified. If you discover something that works well, share it with other churches so that you can help strengthen the ministry of God’s church in our world today. Share your ideas with me, Jim Russom, Director of Pastoral Ministries JRRussom@nbc.edu or with Susan McKeithen SPMckeithen@nbc.edu, editor of the NBCommunicator, and we will post them online and share them in our weekly communications, so that together, we can help each other make a difference. Our website is www.nbc.edu. See News and Events, and we will post your ideas under Ministry in a Covid-19 World.
No church need be insignificant. God will help you make a difference. As you pray and ask God to guide you, remember this: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV)
In His Service,
Jim Russom, D.Min, Pastoral Ministries Director Nazarene Bible College
Filed Under: Communicator Published: 04/27/2020