Preparing Your Church for the COVID-19 Effect
Most of us now know that the Coronoavirus is going to affect our churches. This impact will come probably not so much from the virus itself as from the viral fear that it is currently carrying. Perception is not reality but it is powerful and is often what drives people’s decisions. The stock market this week is a perfect example. People are responding with fear, hesitation and concern and the closer it comes to our churches and communities the greater the reaction we’re going to see to it.
So, as ministries, how do we prepare?
First, don’t get swept away with fear. Seasons like this come and go and each one gives us renewed opportunities to share the life and love of Christ.
Second, make sure you have ways to communicate to your church outside of Sunday morning announcements. At some point you will need to communicate in response to what is happening in your local area.
Third, communicate to your church family that your church leaders are going to prayerfully make decisions that are in the best interests of the church and community.
Fourth, encourage people to begin to pray that God uses this “crisis” to bring people to salvation and renewal.
Fifth, encourage your people to continue giving faithfully since the virus will probably affect your church budget but will also give opportunities to minister to people in your area through prayer, by delivering food, providing hope, etc.
Now is the time to make a plan and to take steps to ensure that the virus won’t hinder the effectiveness of your ministry.
The most likely effects on churches will be the following:
(1) Decreased Attendance – As the virus spreads near our communities there will be a greater hesitance for people to go to places where large groups gather. Several governors have already asked churches to cancel services, at least for this week. And regardless of how you might respond to a request like this, at some point the fear of the virus is going to hinder your attendance.
(2) Decreased Giving – The virus has affected the world economy and will continue to affect the economy in the U.S. Without a doubt, this will also affect giving. And if your church doesn’t have online or automated giving, decreased attendance or canceled services will cause an even greater impact on your budget.
(3) Effect on Spring & Summer Activities – Perception swings like a gate but scared people will be less likely to come to church on Easter. Scared parents will also be less likely to send their children and youth to summer camps and other large group activities. On the other hand, if travel is discouraged this summer and vacation areas are still shut down, there may be more opportunities to engage people in your community. Prayerfully consider how to best reach and teach people and don’t be afraid to “think outside the box.”
(1) Take Ministry Beyond the Walls of the Church – Make sure that your ministry is not dependent on people attending your building on Sunday morning. This has been a problem in our churches for a long time. Now is the time to **develop ways to minister and teach beyond standing in the pulpit** once or twice a week. I have heard that universities are making contingency plans to move all classes to online venues. For your church, determine how you can provide online messages and if you don’t have this ability, you can—it’s not even that hard. Continue reading below and we’ll give you some suggestions. I encourage pastors to begin making quick videos throughout the week as well. **Don’t limit your online teaching to once a week.** Put out short, 5 to 10 minute devotions where you teach Bible truth and then challenge your church family to read certain passages from Scripture. Also, avoid making videos that are driven by opinion, especially about the virus—Make videos that share truth. **Make Scripture your focus, not current events.**
(2) Implement Online Giving – If your church doesn’t already have online giving, statistically you have been losing money for at least the last 5 years. The benefit of online giving is that people can automate their donations which means you can avoid the “summer slump”. When you have a bad weather day where services are affected or cancelled, the giving the following week never doubles. **Online giving allows your church family a way to be obedient even when they can’t attend.** _Keep reading below and we’ll give you some suggestions._
(3) Provide Sanitary Options – I received an email from my bank letting me know that I don’t need to come into the bank for anything—everything can be done online or through their mobile app. But if I need to come by my local branch, they are disinfecting their bathroom counters multiple times each day and they are providing hand sanitizing stations. Let your church and community know how your church disinfects your preschool and children’s rooms. Disinfect your church bathrooms several times on church days. Offer hand sanitizers and even Clorox wipes in the bathrooms.
(4) Media is majoring on local Coronavirus news – Make the most of this opportunity. Promote in your local newspaper, on social media and on your local news how your church is responding—How your church is providing options for people to be ministered to at home, providing sanitary safety precautions for those who attend and even a sermon series such as having hope in times of fear, etc. There are many ways to use this opportunity to engage your community with the Gospel.
(5) Be ready to tell the older members of your church to stay home if there are real risks in your community. Tell them that you will bring church to them.
(6) Create a plan for ways that you will minister to people in your community who get the virus. How do you plan to minister to the healthcare providers and first responders in your area? Are there children who depend on school for meals and are there ways you can minister to these families in need if their schools are closed?
(7) Lead your church in praying for our missionaries and for missions. Our family was overseas on a mission trip when the virus began to spead. Many trips have been cancelled and our missionaries have already been affected in a number of ways.
There are two great ways to quickly set-up and use online video: Facebook or YouTube.
The benefit of using Facebook is that it not only gives you a platform for video but also for connecting with people in your community who are already connected to Facebook. Promote events, Scripture reading, stories and more. If you can’t meet at church—Meet online.
The following link will help you set-up a Facebook personal account. You don’t need to actually use this account much but you need a personal account in order to set-up a page. The difference between these is that a personal account accepts friends, etc. An organization page doesn’t need to be managed in this way but has open information for all. It is easy to follow and easy to share.
The following link will show you how to set-up an effective Church Page on Facebook: Outreach.com/blog/church-facebook-101.
If your church doesn’t already have online giving, statistically you have already been losing money. The benefit of online giving is that people can automate their donations which means you can avoid the “summer slump” and other low giving seasons.
Online giving gives your church family a way to be obedient even when they can’t attend.
If you implement online giving, be sure to educate your church with the following:
(1) Every Sunday during the offering announce that they can also give online and provide the link.
(2) Put the giving link in your weekly bulletin.
(3) Explain that online giving allows people to automate their giving—to automate their obedience. This way they can continue to be obedient even if they go on vacation, have a month of sickness in the family or even when there’s a bad weather day.
(4) Explain that online giving helps the church because in our culture today most people don’t carry cash and checks anymore. The church is not encouraging credit card usage or debt but for people to use their bank accounts and debit cards to set-up online giving which can be set-up either as a one-time or an on-going gift.
(5) There are many good and secure payment platforms. We recommend Vanco Giving if you are a larger church and want more features. They charge a monthly fee and a transaction charge but they have many available options and good customer service. You can learn more at Vancopayments.com.
For smaller churches, we recommend setting up a free PayPal account. Although there is no monthly or annual fee, there is still a transaction fee when someone gives but most churches quickly learn that the increase in giving (when you have educated your church family properly) easily off-sets the fees. Our ministry uses PayPal for online giving although we do say that if someone is going to make a large one-time donation, that we prefer to receive it by check.
Begin setting up your free PayPal account at www.paypal.com.
The advantage of a church website is that is creates a one-stop place where people can find everything they need: Information about your church, announcements, links to social media, a giving links, a place where they can easily connect to online sermons, pastor’s blogs, and so much more.
Our ministry has been working with technology to help ministries for over 10 years and have worked with local churches, associations, state conventions, NAMB and the IMB. In this time of fast change, if your church doesn’t have a website and you suddenly see the value in having one, we can have a website ready for your church in only a few days. We set-up everything for you. Then we will teach you how to manage the site or we can manage it for you.
We provide a quality, affordable websites for churches of all sizes.
For more information, please contact Kolby King at (405) 326-8197 or simply respond to this email. Our desire is provide you with the resources you need.
Click HERE to discover more than 100 videos using creative tools to share God’s Word.
(1) Announce that your church will be disinfecting bathroom counters, door knobs, pew tops, etc., multiple times on church days.
(2) Provide Clorox wipes in the bathrooms for people who might want to wipe down parts on their own.
(3) Provide hand sanitizers in multiple locations.
(4) Disinfect all the preschool and children’s toys after every church service. This actually should already be a habit of your church. Sickness spreads easily among young children and there is a great comfort when a church shows respect for families by safeguarding the health of their children.
(5) Instead of passing offering plates, set up offering stations. Instead of handing out bulletins, let people pick them up on their own.
(6) Encourage people to stay home if they are feeling sick or if they have health issues concerns. They can watch services online, give from home, etc.
(7) Be willing to respect the advice of your state and local government as they issue news and community response suggestions. Pray as church leaders concerning how your church should respond. We need to act prayerfully and wisely, not in a rush or from an attitude of fear.
(8) If your local government leaders request that you cancel service, you might consider other optional plans: Instead of cancelling all services, challenge people to have family Sunday school at home. Provide your families with a guide and then instead of one church service, you might consider having several smaller services throughout the week to lessen the risks. Keep reading below for resources you can use for online Sunday School.
(9) If someone attends your church and is later diagnosed with the virus, communicate this to your church family as soon as possible.
When most people attend to Sunday School, the children go one direction, the youth another and mom and dad go to their class. Most churches don’t provide a family option for Sunday School but this is the key to a successful online Sunday School. You need to provide an option for everyone in the family and to use this opportunity as a way to challenge mom and dad to take spiritual leadership in the family.
In the next few days I’m sure that we’ll see many of the major curriculum providers offering online Sunday School options but I’m guessing that most of these will focus on age groups, not the family as a whole–In other words, they’re still thinking inside the church and not inside the living room.
Here are a few options that we can provide:
(1) Discover 85 FAMILY DEVOTIONS online for FREE at www.ThreeThirtyMinistries.org/family-devotions – These were written with the idea of engaging everyone in the family at the same time—from the youngest child to the oldest adult. These are short, fun and interactive for the purpose of showing parents that they can discuss spiritual truth at home.
We are in the process of turning these devotions into interactive video sessions where we facilitate conversations but the true meat of what is happening doesn’t happen on the video but in the living room. Hopefully we’ll be ready to release some of these in the next week or so and we’ll let you know as soon as they are ready.
(2) Online videos – Our ministry has over a hundred videos online that will engage people of all ages. Visit the following for free video resources: Youtube.com/user/kolbyking330/videos. We will be posting family devotion videos here as soon as they are ready.
(3) Five 12-minute Gospel presentation videos – These video share God’s plan of salvation and were originally prepared for use at VBS but aims at engaging parents with the Gospel as well. – See them at ThreeThirtyMinistries.org/gospel-presentation-videos
(4) Full Children’s Camp Videos for your families to watch and discuss at ThreeThirtyMinistries.org/childrens-camp-videos.
(5) Interactive All-Church Worship Services for your families to watch and discuss at ThreeThirtyMinistries.org/worship-service-videos.
See the following for a Press Release and feel free to make changes as needed to better fit your situation:
CHURCH TAKES SERIOUSLY THE CORONAVIRUS THREAT
Amid the spread of the Coronavirus, [church name] is taking safety precautions to help safeguard their members and the people of our community. The church has implemented sanitary areas throughout the church, will be disinfecting door knobs and bathrooms multiple times on church days and will be actively disinfecting children’s and preschool toys and classrooms.
In addition to on-site safety the church is also provide ways for members and others in our community to join them for church from home.
“We understand that the virus has a greater danger for older people or people with underlying health concerns. We want these people and any others in our community to feel free to join us in worship from home,” a church leader said.
The church is also willing to have someone make a home visit to talk or pray with anyone in our community who is struggling, in fear or in need.
The church is also making preparation for how to minister to our community in the event that people here are infected or quarantined.
You can watch worship services online at [link] and visit their website at [website].
[church name] is located at [addresss]. For more information, you can contact Pastor [name] at [phone].
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