This article is part 3 of a complete guide for missions during COVID-19.
The opportunities to be missional during a crisis are limited only by the creativity of the local church. Pastors and church leaders, when priming the pump of creativity in the church, consider these practical ways of being missional during a crisis. Incredible ministry can take place when individuals, families, and groups within the church are given some practical ideas and then encouraged and given the freedom to be creative as they love their neighbors and serve the community well.
These ideas can be shared with individual families within the church as a way of loving their neighbors.
Create a Neighborhood Facebook group
- Invite neighbors on your street, block, or community to join a Neighborhood Facebook group as a way to know one another, share stories, and just be neighbors. The invitation should include your name, contact info, name of the Facebook group, how neighbors can join the group, and a few sentences describing how this group can help create community and meet needs. The invitation can be taped to the front door of homes, printed on a door hanger and left on the front door, placed on windshields, or mailed to each resident (simply walk your street or block and record addresses). If you mail the invitation, consider including a self-addressed, stamped return envelope.
- The group can be a great way to discover and meet needs in the neighborhood, provide encouraging Scripture, and ask for specific prayer requests. Again, the possibilities are endless.
Prayer walk your neighborhood.
- When neighbors are outside, introduce yourself, and ask how you can pray for them. Even during times f social distancing, prayer can be offered from a safe distance.
- Offer to pick up prescriptions, groceries, etc. for senior adult neighbors.
- Pick up limbs, mow the yard or rake leaves for a neighbor.
- Purchase a small gift for each neighbor, such as a blooming plant, and leave at the front door along with a note of encouragement.
- Download the Nextdoor app to connect with people in your neighborhood.
Serving Your Community
A crisis, like COVID-19, will affect your entire community. Here are some practical ideas for the church to serve the community well.
Encourage church members to shop local.
- Local businesses depend on local customers for support. Many are hurting during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sadly, many will not be able to survive. Your church can love local businesses by purchasing from local businesses, especially during a crisis. When ordering by phone from a local business, ask how you can pray for them and then pray for them. You can also help local businesses by buying gift certificates from them to give to others or use for yourself after the crisis is over.
Create care packages for medical professionals, first responders, and essential workers.
- Nothing fancy – just a small package with items like snacks, drinks, hand sanitizer, etc. Include items purchased from local businesses for extra points!
Provide items that are in short supply.
- Every crisis creates a shortage. Providing that item along with a note of encouragement and prayer can be a huge blessing. Examples might include: having members sew face masks fr medical professionals, hold a food drive for the local food bank, encourage members to give blood through Red Cross.
Contact your local school and offer to volunteer where needed.
- With COVID-19, many school districts are providing breakfast and lunch to area children. The volume of work needed in a short amount of time is taxing on school employees. Offering t assist with the distribution of the food can be a valuable ministry. Als, how about providing a small gift for each of the school employees who are serving community children? Perhaps a gift certificate fr a meal or a drink from Sonic?
Encourage families to send hand-made Thank You notes to medical professionals, first responders, and essential workers.
- Include an encouraging word and a Scripture. Have children illustrate the note.
Offer the church building and/or parking lot for a community service.
- With the church building being vacant during the week, contact the local Office of Emergency Management, Medical Center or Hospital, School, or Food Bank and offer the use of the building for a service that can help the community. Some churches have offered their building to provide daycare for the children of medical professionals.
Internet services for school-aged students
- If your church has internet coverage in the parking lot, consider offering certain times during the day when students can access the internet for school-related work. Social distancing and limited site access should be considered.
Provide a take-out meal a week for anyone in the community.
- Many churches provide a Wednesday meal for those attending mid-week activities. Why nt up the game and provide a take-out meal for anyone in the community!
- Offer a free drive-in movie in the church parking lot. The movie can be projected onto the side of a building or a screen can be constructed of sheets in a wooden frame. Sund can be provided through an FM transmitter or over speakers. (Ensure your FM Transmitter is part 15 compliant.)
As you discover practical ways to love neighbors and serve your community, keep in mind that during a crisis, fear and panic often lead people to be more open to talking about spiritual matters. Our mission is not just to meet needs; it is to share Christ!