The key to thriving in this season of uncertainty is sustaining communication.
What many (maybe most) people imagined might be a two-week lockdown has evolved into a long, drawn-out saga—with many variables—that requires us to do more to survive as a local church.
The key to thriving in this season of uncertainty is sustaining communication. We must concentrate on staying in touch with our people. Although some churches have opened their facilities and invited their congregants to return, most report that the response has been minimal. People find themselves in trepidation and, as a result, are nervous to return to large gatherings of any kind.
This trend could spawn another crisis if pastors and leaders let go of the rope now. Since there are seemingly countless online options available, it is incredibly easy for church members to drift off and attach somewhere else. The key is to stay in touch.
Develop a plan of communication and determine how you will continue to reach your people. We are likely going to communicate this way for quite a while still, so to mitigate ongoing interaction in your church, here are some practical tips to consider:
1. Send a text message to each person in your church—immediately!—even if you have done it before. Start rolling out your plan of communication. Simply say something like, “This quarantine is lasting longer than we anticipated. I just want you to know that we care. Are you doing OK? Is there anything we can help you with? We are here for you. Stay blessed!”
2. Send a text message to each household the day before your service(s) go live, send another the day of and send a final text 15 minutes before your broadcast goes on the air.
3. Send a follow-up text after your broadcast, requesting feedback on the service and any prayer requests. (Of course, respond appropriately.)
Many pastors and churches made personal phone calls to their people shortly after the lockdown began and church buildings closed. Since the isolation is lasting much longer than we ever anticipated, it is crucial to call all your people again. We must stay in touch. If you do, you are setting the conditions to have a great comeback.
Let me quickly remind you, the pastor cannot do it alone, so, follow these steps:
1. Involve an administrative assistant, staff member, board member, etc., to help you to organize your quick system.
2. Depending on the size of your church, enlist a group of leaders to take the initiative with you and to serve as care administrators.
3. Assign five responsible church members to each of these administrators to serve as care callers. A church of 100 people will require two administrators and 10 callers; a church of 1,000 people will require 12 administrators and 60 callers.
4. Assign five church-member households to each of these care callers and ask them to make a call to their assigned people. Provide them with phone numbers from the church database.
Let five questions drive the conversation:
1. How are you doing — and how is your family doing? (Respond kindly and appropriately to the answer.)
2. Are you facing any specific challenges right now? (Make a note of the response.)
3. Do you have enough groceries for your family’s needs? (If your church has a feeding program, pass along this information to your care callers. Let them inform the needy folks where and how to collect provisions.)
4. Is there anything the church can do for you at this time? (Again, make a note of the response.)
5. How can I best pray for you today? (Pray an encouraging and uplifting prayer. Leave the person with a short, uplifting Scripture verse. Remember, prayer is the most important part of your contact.)
Afterward, the care callers can follow up by sending a short response report to their respective care administrator. (Email is best.) They can follow up with more calls in the future, no more than once a week.
I know this sounds like a lot of work, but I can promise you this: The rewards will be well worth it. If this engagement is left undone, many churches are going to be limping for a long time to come with undesirable outcomes.