4 Ways to Minister During Social Distancing
It was only a few days ago that none of us had ever heard the phrase "social distancing", but now it feels like we can't have a conversation without hearing or saying those two words. And, of course, it's important that we hear those words and that we implement what they tell us to help slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). But social distancing also makes it harder for our churches to know how we can minister to each other and to our communities during this time. For many of us, ministry has always been about face-to-face interaction--whether they happen while passing out bulletins on a Sunday morning, or volunteering at a food pantry, or making visits at a hospital. But in this time of social distancing, we can't do any of those face-to-face things. So how can we encourage our churches to continue to minister to each other and to our community right now? Well, here are four ideas.
1. Use the tools that we have to stay in touch with each other. Every one may be spending the majority of their times at home and largely alone, but we live in a day and age where we have a plethora of tools at our disposal to stay in touch with each other even when we can't be together in-person. We can text or email. We can write messages on each other's timelines, and Netflix even has a way we can hang out together to watch movies. Or, we can go old school and pick up a phone and make a few calls, or even write a note and drop it in the mail. There are a ton of ways we can stay in touch, so courage your congregation to pick the way(s) that work best for them and keep ministering to each other.
2. Find ways to help people in need. Right now, it feels like there are more people than ever who are hurting and need some help. With schools closed and thousands of people being (at least temporarily) laid off, now is the time for followers of Jesus to step up. We're doing that at my church through our relationship with a local non-profit organization. We're collecting pantry items and personal hygiene items to donate to this organization. And we're encouraging our members to pick these items up while they're grocery shopping.
So find an organization that your church can support right now that is helping people in need, and then share with your people how they can pitch in.
3. Support local businesses. With the number of businesses that are being asked to close growing everyday, it's more important than ever to support the businesses that are able to stay open. So don't be afraid to go through a drive-thru to pick up lunch, or place a pick up order for dinner...and encourage your congregation to do the same thing. The meals and purchases you church members make will help keep a business going...and that's especially important for the small businesses and mom and pop shops. You can also go the extra mile and ask your people to share some of your favorite small businesses that they might like to try out on social media.
4. Remind your church to support your church. Just because your church is closed for in-person services that does not mean you have stopped ministering to the people who make up your church and to your community. So don't be afraid to remind your members and regular attenders that your church could use their support too. You can do that by regularly posting the links to the giving page on your website, or the information on text to give, or even your physical address so people can mail their contributions to your church. I'll be doing this near the end of my church's online service every week.
So, yes, it's harder to minister today than we're used to...but today our ministry is more needed than ever.
It's harder to minister today than we're used to...but today our ministry is more needed than ever.
So find ways to keep serving each other and your community right now. It can be the ways we described in this post...or it can be any other way you can think of. But now is the time for us to be the hands and feet of Christ in the world, even if we have to do it from a (social) distance.