We talk often about how we weren’t called to go to church, we were called to be the church. Now more than ever we have an opportunity to really explore what that means, because we have no other option. If there is going to be a church at this time, it is going to be defined by what we do rather than a building or a weekly event.
Naturally, being the church should mean being like Jesus. We are to love one another, serve one another, care for one another, and bear one another’s burdens. We are to have a mission mindset. In short, we are to be about the Father’s business.
Here are a few suggestions for ways we can be the church during this time.
- Positivity. Post with positivity on social media. It has long been said in many places (including here) that Christians need to be more mindful of how we use social media. How we use social media is how the world will see the church, and with more people actively using social media than ever, our posts have great potential for either harm or for good.
Of all people, we as Christians should be able to find peace in the midst of uncertain times. That doesn’t mean we won’t ever struggle with worries or doubts, but the more we turn to God for comfort the more peace we’ll find (Philippians 4:6-7). Let’s show the world that we have a deep and abiding hope that sustains us during these times. Let’s point people to Jesus through our words.
- Empathy. Post with empathy on social media. One of the most insensitive things we can do is publicly tell people that the sickness is no big deal. Some have lost relatives or friends. Some are struggling with the sickness now. Be empathetic to the fact that there are undoubtedly people who have suffered from the virus.
On the other hand, it’s also incredibly insensitive to post about how we only have to make the mild sacrifice of staying at home. For some, the sacrifice is much bigger than that. Tens of millions of people are now unemployed. They’re not sure how they’re going to pay bills or even feed their family. You may be able to work from home and have little change to your financial situation, but that isn’t the case for a lot of people. Be empathetic to that fact before you tell them that the lockdown is no big deal.
Let’s show people we are thinking beyond ourselves and considering them and their plight, too.
- Facebook Live streams. Share your congregation’s live stream on Facebook. Not another congregation’s live stream. Not a YouTube sermon from your favorite preacher. Share your congregation’s feed, invite your friends to watch with you, pray for opportunities for discussion, and look to invite them to worship when the quarantine ends.
- Phone calls. Work through your directory to make calls and check in on your church family members to whatever degree possible. No need to bombard people – just a call every now and then to check on them. Put special priority on the widowed and the single. Their interaction levels are likely very low and they need connection. And, don’t forget to check in on your ministers and elders. This is strange, difficult territory for them, and as a minister I can tell you it’s a hollow, lonely feeling to not have anybody to talk to after giving a sermon. They need your encouragement at this time.
- Prayers. Pray for your church family. Pray for and end to the virus. Pray for the authorities in our society. Solicit prayer requests on Facebook. Keep note of prayer requests made by your fellow members so you can follow up when you call or text them. Offer to pray for (or with) anyone you speak to.
- Social distancing visits. Give someone a call to tell them you’re coming, let them know when you’ve arrived so they can come to the door, and chat with them from a safe distance. Phone calls and video chats are great, but between the effort it takes to come over and the face-to-face interaction, there’s just something special about in person visits.
- “Parades.” Some congregations have gotten a group of people to drive by the homes of the elderly to wave and brighten their spirits.
- Neighborhood connections. Look to connect with neighbors. In climates with decent weather like what we’ve had here in Texas, people are out like never before. I’ve met more neighbors – at a safe distance, of course – in the last month than in the previous 6 months of living here.
- Making masks. Seamstresses in many congregations have taken up the task of making face masks for their fellow members and neighbors. If that’s a skill you have and you have the time and materials, you might consider looking into ways to do so.
- Giving. Please don’t forget to make your church contribution, if you can. Church bills still need to be paid, and ministers, missionaries, and ministry works are all dependent on God’s people sharing what they have. Beyond that, if you are financially able, look for ways to help others. You might even quietly let your elders know that you’d be willing to help out to whatever degree you can if a need arises among the members. Sacrificial giving was a defining characteristic of the New Testament church. May we carry that mantle in this financial crisis.
What other ideas do you have? Leave a comment below and let’s keep on working to show the world what the church is all about!
You can preorder Jack’s new book Church Reset: God’s Design for So Much More here.