In a time where “social distancing” is advocated, what are people of faith to do as they adhere to God’s mandates to love each other, worship together, and function as a holy family?
- Create “flock lists” for every elder (a specific sub-listing of members for each) for which each elder has primary responsibility: contact, care, interaction. The expectation is that each elder will contact each family unit under their care once a week—via Zoom or phone. A personal contact designed to encourage, pastor, and inquire. Write and share with each other possible scripts.
- Communicate to Staff an expectation that they are joining you in this personal contact effort. Time spent in video conferencing, phone calls, texting, and emails is priority ministry time in this environment.
- Expect every member to be part of a small group. I know you’ve had resistance to this in the past … people pushing back. This is not an option for our members in this environment. (See point 8 above.) Designate groups of 10-12 individuals (or 4-5 family groups) to constitute small groups. Designate a leader for each who convenes, directs, and reports on small group meetings. Designate a leader to oversee the group leaders. What do they need? Are they meeting? What needs are being encountered? How can we help? Expect small groups to meet weekly.
- How can we use our website to create virtual community? Heavy use of current videos, photos, messages, etc..
- Elders/church leaders record a video on their cell phone that is a brief 90-120 second word of encouragement that is uploaded to the church’s website and broadcast to the church.
- Encourage the congregation’s staff to participate in video encouragement as well. (Each minister on staff might be tasked to focus on the segment of the congregation that constitutes the focus of their ministry.) These messages would serve as another “pat on the back” or “boost” for people who need something to click on in the boredom of isolation.
- Small groups could also commit to sending out something similar to #1 and #2. Just designate someone within the group to do this each week. Be creative with who sends the message (e.g., one person or husband/wife team or a child) and with the contents of the message (happy birthday … testimonial … funny story … how we can be a blessing … etc.).
- Create virtual coffee times. Using a tool like Zoom, set up an “appointment” to meet for coffee and chat. Have your coffee (or tea) ready when you log onto the call. Prepare your drinks together (“I like a little creamer in my coffee”). Then talk about … well … everything you would in a normal “meet you for coffee” time: life, kids, news, work, church, etc.. You could do this with one or two other people or with a small group. Make sure you limit the number invited to maintain quality interaction and some sort of intimacy.
- Create fun things for people to do together: playing a game (chess anyone?), watching a movie together, listening to a podcast, discussing a book, sharing travel experiences … the list is endless. People need to laugh a little, glow with nostalgia, talk about small matters, connect—even (especially) in difficult times.