The coronavirus pandemic has pushed churches to think outside the box when it comes to caring for people. These tips from pastors in west Kentucky will be a help to any church.
Keep an eye on those most at-risk
All a church’s homebound, over 70 years old, are most at risk and can be called regularly and checked on. This can be assigned to a certain group or divided among groups such as deacons or Sunday School/Small group leaders. Don’t limit this to your members-only but use this as an opportunity to check on those outside the church as family, friends, neighbors, and work associates. This is time to encourage evangelism. Deliver food to neighbors or adopt a person, family, or neighborhood.
- Ask if they have any specific needs.
- If they have no current issues, then what are their future needs?
- Don't forget about transportation needs to the doctor, pharmacy or grocery store.
Share the responsibility to care for the church
Divide the church’s membership roll among the staff, deacons, and ministry team leaders to call weekly and encourage, pray for them, and ask about any needs they may have. This develops better leaders by equipping and empowering ministry leaders (Eph 4:12).
Social media and virtual meetings are great ways to connect
Use social connections such as Facebook, Facebook Live, Zoom, etc. to stay connected for worship services. During mid-week, social media can be used for a daily short broadcast of prayer and Bible reading. The mid-week Bible Study can be facilitated by Facebook Live, Zoom or another social media method to continue the encouragement of God’s Word, worship, a time of prayer and challenge.
One of the churches I work with is using mid-week Bible study to help shape the perspective of the membership on seeing worship, evangelism, the gathering of the saints, and Bible study in new ways.
Be intentional in identifying contacts
Use a series of volunteers in the church to check up on each other and call the membership. Dr. Dan Summerlin, Lone Oak First, has challenged his congregation to identify "Who’s your 10." He is using this crisis to encourage the congregation to identify 10 persons they are going to call weekly.
If those persons need something, the members will respond or get the appropriate help. This is an opportunity to build a sense of servant leadership among the people. This method involves all the membership participating.
When believers are faced with a crisis, we move closer, not further apart. This crisis has us doing what is unnatural and resisting close gatherings. By delivering food items, leaving a note, making a personal call and talking with someone we are adding the best alternative to being closer.
Serve the community if possible
Volunteer to help in community life-sustaining efforts. People will feel more connected if they join in a common cause. This can build esprit de corps among the fellowship of a church. This can be accomplished as individuals participate in helping the community as they volunteer for disaster relief efforts, the church hosts a Blood Drive, or members help deliver food to the community by partnering with schools, city or county governments, and local needs. This can be accomplished while maintaining safe practices of handwashing and social distancing.
Larry Purcell is the Kentucky Baptist Convention's regional consultant for the west Kentucky region.