During this time of pandemic, many of the church’s ministries are either dormant or limited. However, this does NOT mean that we can sit idly by as a church or as individuals. There are many other opportunities for serving others who are members and non-members in our church and community. Your congregation collectively and individually must learn to be creative and flexible when it comes to serving your members and people in your community.
The pandemic is challenging us on several levels: our jobs, our shopping, our schooling, our travel, our economy, and church attendance. However, many of us haven’t thought of how the pandemic has affected and will affect future ministry in the church. This is not a time for neglect but action.
What About Right Now?
Here’s what I suggest to you for your consideration. Starting today, you need to encourage and equipmem bers to revamp present ministries so they become relevant now. More importantly, several ministries need to spring up in which individuals or small groups of members can serve. For examples, your local nursing homes, hospitals, stores, police department, EMS, schools, the local Y and such are full of people that need encouragement. You can’t go inside and spent time with them but you can do something for them.
More of your ministries, present and future also need to be designed for non-members and for folks in your community. New ministries should focus on needs of individuals and groups of people in your town. Individuals should start taking personal responsibility to create ministry and do it. Individual Christians should not wait for a formal ministry to exist before they serve in some meaningful way. Jesus went about doing good, and so should we. In a smaller town, members should know just about everybody in town and know some real needs. In larger towns, the news agencies and newspapers will inform us of opportunities to serve.
Actual ideas on how to serve others: members and non-members
(these can be done by individuals, couples, families, Bible classes, and teams)
Most importantly, as always, Practice all COVID 19 protocol.
Brainstorm alone and with others on the phone and be creative. Fulfill the new ideas by serving BOTH members and those in your community.
Have parades past houses or nursing homes; get permission first
Caroling – go to members’ homes and sing hymns/favorite ones
Go shopping for others (groceries, medicine, etc. for members or those in the community)
There are dozens of things you can do virtually; however, many older people do not know how to use technology or do not have it. ZOOM is great for communicating with your members with daily devotionals, Bible classes and worship services. Use Facebook, Marco Polo and other mediums to communicate also.
Email folks and communicate daily with them
Phone calls that are uplifting and encouraging; show real concern—also ask if there is anything you can for them. Make regular phone calls. Some folks will even tell you to call on a certain day every week to check on them.
Visitation through windows at people’s homes or nursing homes (make appointments to do either of these)
Send cards via snail mail (for anniversaries, birthdays, get well, encouragement)
Gifts – small things: soaps, candy bars, toiletries, something cute, etc. leave on the porch or have them mailed to people. You can loan music CDs and movie DVDs.
Flowers – these could be fresh flowers from your garden
Gift cards they can use on line; we have found food cards are also popular (e.g. Cracker Barrel)
Donate blood. Have your children color pictures and send/give them to older folks.
Provide meals and leave on porches; you could do the cooking or buy the food
When out and about a cordial greeting is welcomed, and if your face is uncovered, smile–there’s nothing like it. In fact, some folks paint a smile on their masks.
Don’t overlook vets, the disabled, shut-ins, the vulnerable and widows.
Do something for local nursing homes and hospital staff (drinks and snacks). Just the other day, someone donated fresh picked greenbeans for a nursing facility. Many residents snapped the beans and got to eat them. What joy that brought to those residents.
Do something for the local police department, fire fighters, EMS (meal, snacks, cards and notes of support and appreciation, etc)
Do yard work for folks. Do home repairs for people.
Donate money to worthy causes especially those that help people during these difficult times.
If you are able bodied, it doesn’t matter how young or old you are—you should be willing to help
If you are not able-bodied, you can pray and encourage those who are serving or possibly donate funds that can used to help others.
Do more study on-line for more ideas
Note: at the end of July the government $ runs out; what will people do then? And, whether our government gives people money or not, these opportunities to serve remain.
Start now preparing to help folks in and out of the church.