COVID-19 is an unprecedented crisis we’ve not seen in our generation.  Churches and ministries are faced with some tough decisions in the coming days.  How do you continue ministry in times such as this? How is the Church to respond?  Below are some examples of things churches can do beyond providing hand sanitizers in your hallways and not shaking hands.  These suggestions are also applicable to other disruptions to ministries, such as weather events.

1.  Encourage your people to stay home by going online. Medical experts say the major way to contain this virus is through social distancing.  They are encouraging people, particularly the elderly and those with underlying health issues, to stay away from public gatherings.  

This week, Lakewood Church, a non-denominational megachurch with over 50,000-weekend attenders, announced it is canceling all Sunday services over coronavirus. Instead, Lakewood Church said services will be broadcast “exclusively online” on Facebook Live, YouTube, Roku, AppleTV, Pastor Osteen’s and Lakewood Church’s websites, as well as SiriusXM channel 128.  Take Lakewood’s example and provide digital broadcasts to your church and community. Even small churches can broadcast using Facebook Live.

2.  Provide family curriculum. Recently, our daughter’s family stayed home because one of the kids was sick.  So, they had their own worship service and everyone had a contribution. The home service became one of their most memorable events of the year.  This crisis could provide an opportunity for families to worship together, but they will need help in knowing what to do. Put together a team that includes children and youth ministry specialists to design curriculum for the home worship experience.  Or, purchase curriculum materials through Christian publishers. It doesn’t have to be detailed or lengthy. The simpler and shorter the better.

3.  Use a variety of means to stay in contact with members. Small groups can stay connected through video or phone conferencing.  Use prayer chains, email, messaging, texting, and so on to stay connected.  Practice fixed hours of prayer by identifying times your church will focus its attention on praying about this crisis.  Knowing your church is praying at 10:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m., and 8:00 p.m. encourages members as they realize that spiritual forces are being called on to assist in this time of need.

4. Self-quarantines provide opportunities for ministry.  As people self-quarantine and hospitals can no longer accept patients, the church can assist infected families by dropping off boxes of food and other provisions.  The boxes can be left on the doorstep, so your volunteers will not become exposed to the virus. Ministry goes on.

5.  Provide opportunities to give digitally.  Unfortunately, some church leaders will keep the doors of their church open because of the impact on giving.  Pastors know all too well that finances suffer when church services are called off. Don’t be bashful to tell church members of the church’s financial needs.  Provide opportunities for members to give online or through giving text apps. Share with them how their giving will be used to help others during this time of crisis.

Families in your community will experience financial difficulties as a result of this medical crisis.  Your people will give sacrificially when they know their money is going to meet this crisis.

Practicing safe church is the right thing to do.  View this crisis as an opportunity to minister to your entire community.  Guide your people in turning fear into faith.