The outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has forced churches to cancel services and close their doors. While Christians across the world are saddened by the loss of community that in-person worship provides, there are still ways for congregations to connect.
Here are some things your church can do during coronavirus to make the best of this bad situation.
Offer Services Online
We are blessed to have access to the internet in this day and age. Many churches are now live-streaming their services online and uploading recordings to their website or YouTube. Even if you just record the audio and post it online, your congregation will appreciate the spiritual instruction.
Also consider using an online giving platform, if you don’t already, so that members can still make their weekly financial contributions.
Use Teleconferencing Platforms to Virtually Meet
It’s not just worship services that have shut down in the midst of the crisis. Bible studies, small groups, and community meals are being cancelled to limit the spread of the virus. To make up for the loss of in-person fellowship, take advantage of teleconferencing platforms like Skype or Zoom to hold virtual meetings.
Offer Comfort and Counseling
The coronavirus pandemic has caused great fear and anxiety. The fact that many churches are closing only adds to the burden of isolation. Believers will naturally lean on their faith in times of trouble, but they may feel they cannot do that anymore.
Your church’s leadership team can still minister to your congregation; you will just need to adapt your methods. Offer online counseling over video chat and phone. Encourage your members to reach out. Give your congregation a message of hope through digital platforms, including your website and social media channels. It’s vital to speak words of comfort and strength during these stressful times.
Make a Plan for Childcare Services or School Operations
If your church runs a childcare center or school, decide whether that will close as well. Some states are ordering daycares and schools to close. If your state has not mandated closures yet, you need to assess the risk in your community. Consider the number of confirmed cases and manner of transmission. If there have been cases in your community that have occurred without contact with a known case of COVID-19, you should prayerfully consider closing.
Encourage Members to Virtually Check In with Each Other
Even while in isolation to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we can still watch out for our neighbors and friends. Encourage your congregation to call or virtually check in with people they know, especially those who are at increased risk from COVID-19. This includes the elderly and those with chronic health conditions like heart disease or diabetes.
By regularly checking in, we can lift each other’s spirits and also make sure that everyone gets the help they need if they do become sick. Make sure your neighbors have adequate food, water, and other supplies. If they are feeling sick, ask if they need anything and can access medical care. If they are having a medical emergency, call an ambulance for them immediately.
Clean and Disinfect Your Church
If your church has closed in response to COVID-19, you can take advantage of this opportunity to give the facilities a thorough cleaning. Be sure to disinfect all surfaces your congregation touches. Make sure that regular maintenance continues even if the church is empty for now, so that it will be clean and ready for your members to return. This may also be a good opportunity to remodel or reorganize your church layout.
While this is a time of physical isolation for many congregations, that doesn’t have to mean spiritual isolation. Use these methods to connect with and minister to your congregation throughout the coronavirus outbreak. Above all, the message every church needs to be preaching right now is one of hope.