This article is part 6 of a complete guide for missions during COVID-19.
While church leaders yearn for the end of social distancing and a return to the regular rhythms of ministry, this time can be used to plan for what is next. Ministry may look different following the crisis but that does not eliminate the need for planning.
What have we started that needs to continue?
The inability to gather for services forced many to begin livestreaming worship services and devotionals. Others started online giving. Church leaders have commented on the increased number of views on the livestream, increasing the reach of the church, and the increased use of online giving. Consider continuing these options even when churches return to corporate gatherings.
The inability to meet face-to-face also created ministry needs within the church, especially among senior adults, and it created an inability to meet the need for fellowship. Churches have seen lay-leaders focus on caring for people during this time. Deacons took further interest in the Deacon Family Ministry. Sunday School teachers and small group leaders initiated plans to care for each other. While needs will change when social distancing ends, the need for caring for each other will continue.
Plan for a BIG Day
While the restrictions on large-group gatherings may be lifted slowly, and people may be hesitant to join such gatherings, the day will come when churches can meet as a whole. Whenever that day comes, plan for a BIG Day. Encourage your people to Be present, Invite a guest, and Give generously.
Begin now, while you are livestreaming, promoting this day. While you cannot give a specific date, just planting the idea in the mind of those listening will make them eager for the day. Consider special events, such as a fellowship meal or family activities.
Focus on the non-attenders who are watching online. Encourage them to physically join you for this day. Share service times. Promote Sunday School or small groups. While not downplaying watching online, let them know the benefits of attending personally that cannot be received online.
Plan for Summer and Fall
Once restrictions are lifted, people are going to take advantage of opportunities to break the current monotony. Vacation Bible School remains the most effective outreach for children. Set a date for mid to late summer when you are most comfortable that the restrictions will be lifted. Use this time to secure workers. Use online formats, such as Zoom, to train these workers.
Many churches use the Fall for outreach/Harvest Events. Use this time to properly plan. If you do a Harvest Festival, consider what you will need and make reservations for the necessary equipment.
The current situation has forced the cancellation of most summer mission trips, but the Fall provides opportunities locally and in our state. Begin promoting the One Day Mission Trip to Russellville (Oct 3). Registration begins June 5. Consider hosting a “One Day” in your community. Contact the ABSC Missions Team if you would like help developing this for your community.
Plan for Follow-Up
The expanded reach of online services, along with future ministry opportunities, create the need for follow-up. Consider enlisting volunteers to help identify prospects and formulate a plan to contact and assimilate those reached. While some may respond immediately, have a “long view,” knowing some are more skeptical but the church’s continued ministry will be a testimony to God’s grace.