This post was last updated on April 2, 2020.
With the coronavirus continuing to consume our news, social networks, and minds, this is a tumultuous time for most people. For church leaders, you’re trying to figure out what to do next and wondering what you need to prepare for the future. Here’s a checklist you can use to help keep you on track.
Decide what to do about your church services.
Many of you will have passed this step, but for some this is a week-to-week decision. Determine whether you will be online this upcoming Sunday. If you are, then make sure you have everything you need to be online. You can pre-record your message or you can actually go live. If you need any guidance on this, please be sure to look at these resources in the Webinar and Training section of our coronavirus response page.
Specifically, I would encourage you to review how to go live (the very last webinar in the list) and review the information in this post about pre-recording your messages. Going online can be daunting if you’ve never done it before. I encourage you to practice throughout the week! You can go live from your church’s Facebook page, Instagram, your personal Facebook page, etc. With questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!
We are now under a Shelter in Place Order Statewide.
What does this mean for your church? Click here for more information: https://gabapstaging.wpengine.com/shelter-in-place-coronavirus/.
Review Information for the CARES Act.
The House just passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). This bill has significant benefits for churches. Staff expenses, overhead, rent, mortgage interest — it’s all eligible. We put together a webinar for you as well as quick links to outside resources that we think will be helpful. Just click here to going: The CARES Act and Your Church.
Consider alternatives to giving.
It may be hard to collect tithes and offerings when the plate isn’t being passed each service. Many churches already have an online giving option, but there are many that don’t. We put together a webinar and article that you can review to help get you started if this is something you need.
Announce all your coronavirus (COVID-19) responses and updates on your website.
Our web strategist, Barry Dollar, makes some great recommendations about what needs to be updated on your website. This is where people will go if they simply search your church in Google. Any and all information should be available here (i.e. service availability, social network accounts, online giving, ministry opportunities, etc.)
Stay visible on your social media accounts.
While I generally recommend Facebook and Instagram for churches, Facebook is probably the primary communication point for most churches. Here are the topics you should be sure to post:
- If your church is meeting (please follow the recommendations from the local, state, and national levels)
- If your church has an online service, post where people can find it. Is it on Facebook? YouTube? Instagram Live?
- Post when your online service will start. Some churches have adjusted their schedules (i.e. instead of starting at 10:45 a.m., the live stream may start at 11 a.m.). Tell your people when to be ready!
- Post encouraging messages frequently. This is a time of fear and anxiety for many people. It never hurts to see and be encouraged by the Word of God. It may be exactly what someone needs to read that day.
- Ask for prayer requests. Be vulnerable, but also be cognizant of taking some conversations offline – ask to direct message or call the person if you feel the request needs more attention at that time.
Rally your church leaders.
We have had several posts from our evangelism team that encourage church leaders to mobilize their members, and IT’S NOT TO LATE TO START. If you aren’t sure where to start, I encourage you to read this article by Brad Marchman, evangelism consultant for the East Central Region. The biggest thing to focus on is making sure you have people making contact with your church members. The worst part of social distancing is, well, the distancing! It takes more effort to have community when you can’t actually meet. Let your church members help you.
Take your small groups and Sunday school classes online.
This is similar to the previous point, but it’s actually different. You want to keep your church members engaged in a number of ways, and their small groups are going to be the quickest points of contact. Plus, research has shown that people feel much more engaged if they’re part of an active small group. So you’ve gotta help keep them going!
Your small groups are going to range in ages, so there are different strategies for each. For kids, please see this article by Jenni Carter, our statewide NextGen consultant. Kids will need the help of their parents to stay connected, so you will want to communicate with them as well.
For youth, they are most likely already engaged with their friends through some type of social network. There are dozens to choose from, but you can encourage your youth leaders to find one that works for them. I put together a list here of some potential options.
Be sure to consider your college and singles groups as well. For a generation that tends to be the most connected, they tend to be the most lonely. The coronavirus quarantine is certainly not helping. PJ Dunn, the discipleship consultant for the Southwest Region, has some good tips for this ministry in this article.
You can also use those options (Facebook Messenger, Marco Polo, GroupMe, Zoom) for your adult groups. You may have to help some of your small group leaders learn a new technology to get rolling. This is where I once again encourage you to pull together some of your church leaders. You know someone in your congregation who can help them get rolling. Empower them to help! All it takes is a little time, knowledge, and willingness.
Once they’re online, you’ve got to keep them engaged. Tim Smith, the discipleship consultant for the Northwest Region, put together a video and tips just for this very purpose.
Consider the outward missions and evangelism opportunities your church now has.
This is time when a lot of people need some love and attention. We have some articles from our Georgia Baptist Women, Missions team, Evangelism team, and Mission Georgia to get you started.
- Start a Prayer Guide over the people on the frontlines of the coronavirus response. Here’s a list to help.
- Look into ways to love on your community during this time.
- Let this time be a way to evangelize. Levi Skipper, evangelism catalyst, provides some ideas here.
- This is an amazing time to love on your senior adults. Check out this article for ideas.
This checklist is not exhaustive.
We know that things may change day to day just as the coronavirus situation continues to evolve. Be prayerful, be flexible, and be ready to witness how God is working in these situations and times.