Church Support for 2020
In light of the recent COVID-19 outbreak, churches are experiencing drastic changes. Like all voluntary sector services Churches are facing massive uncertainty. However, even if we are all behind closed doors at present, this is the time to think that when the restrictions are lifted, and the main crisis of the virus outbreak has passed, there will be social storm damage to repair, and the church is in a wonderful position to be able to help. They are the ones to be able to tap into the upwelling of compassion and good will that this virus has triggered. In the months ahead, there is going to be great need and also opportunity.
We are trusting God to see us through, as he promised. In St Andrews’s High Wycombe’s daily devotional of 26th March 2020, the Genesis 50, 19-21 story of Joseph in prison is told. Joseph says after being sold into Egypt, “This was meant for evil, but God can use it for good.. to save many people alive.”
Most of us are still in shock, and find it difficult to think ahead, but in the isolation, there is the opportunity to plan the future. How do we build a new support structure while we are stuck at home, and have only the media as an outlet?
1. Use social media to bring people together
During the coronavirus period, churches will remain close but that doesn’t mean that your church or community needs to be separated. Many churches are live streaming at church service times, so that people can log into special services and messages over the internet. Also, there are phone call and errand schemes, where people sign up for help, and can volunteer to talk by phone or answer by email, those who ask for help. Keep in contact, and maybe ask someone to be a prayer partner.
Social media and video calling provide fantastic opportunities for groups and communities to continue communicating and staying in touch during difficult and testing times.
2. Crowdfunding online
Financial needs are still as real as ever. Crowdfunding is a great way for people to raise money for a cause which is close to their heart. Crowdfunding pages can be shared across the majority of social media platforms to help your church receive positive comments and support for your next development.
3. Small groups
Small groups who use to meet can now meet on-line. It’s a great way to stay connected, and share experiences and faith, study the bible, or talk about Gods Promises. The emotional management of this time is an important factor. Its not just about enough supplies to hold out, but spiritual and emotional resources to keep us from getting caught up in fears and anxieties. The bible is full of stories of people who went through tough times, and were led through by God. The promise of God for these situations are both true and comforting, and really good to share. We need to support one-another.
4. Help members of your local church and volunteer to support the community
Members of your church and others in the community may be self-isolating themselves for the next 12 weeks and will need help getting essential items such as groceries, medicine etc. They may also have pets such as dogs which need walking and taking care of. By setting a community support group run by the church, this can help your church receive more donations and support from the wider community in your area.
5. Word of the day
If you don’t already run a word of the day, think about setting up a method of contacting your community, through text, email, your website or social media, with an uplifting passage each day, or linking them into UCB (United Christian Broadcasters, an internet or DAB radio programme). They have Word for today, which has uplifting daily messages.
Many people are isolated, and lonely. It may be great for families, but for those who rely on external social contact, isolation may be a time when things get out of proportion. Being able to call a prayer line, and have someone listen, and pray, is a great blessing. There is one run by UCB but for reasons of safety they are only receiving email prayer requests. Perhaps, with some training churches can set up a prayer line for their local congregation, with the appropriate safety and protection measures.