I’ve thought often of how hard it must be for planters who intended to plant in Spring of 2020. If you planned on launching on Easter of this year, your plans are all thrown off. The entire playbook has to be thrown out the window.
Should I pack it in for the Coronavirus quarantine if I’m in a small church or a newly launched church plant? Should I pivot online if I don’t have a budget or team to help me? If I’m in a small church or plant, how do I gather people to help me?
Don’t pack it in! Lean into this moment and see it as a chance to do more ministry, not less.
You are not in the business of running services and filling seats. You are in the business of helping people hear and experience the hope of Jesus. You are in the business of making disciples, helping people grow to love and lead like Jesus. Your job has not changed just because the strategy you worked so hard on has to be put on hold for a minimum of two months. I believe this is an even bigger opportunity to do that.
*All the people you want to reach with your church still exist and they still need the hope of Christ. This can be an opportunity to engage and bless them. Use this as an opportunity to focus on what really matters: connecting, blessing, and discipling.
The costs (both literal and figurative) are lower than ever. You can reach into the lives of people with technology and advertising in a way that people have never been able to before.
People are scared. People are thinking about death. People are weary. People want prayer.
So take this as an opportunity to reach out more.
If you're a small church; less than 40 people:
- You will probably be the tech team. You might find one person who wants to help you. Either way, don’t grumble. Do the work.
- Your priorities are connecting, serving, and discipling.
- Focus on 4 things: a Sunday Digital Experience, a podcast of the same sermon, live videos 3 times per week, and connecting with people online.
- If you spend 10-30 hours in a normal week on your sermon, you should be willing to spend 30-60 minutes editing and uploading that sermon so the largest number of people can view/listen to it. You can edit a video for a digital experience and upload a podcast in 30-60 minutes. It takes no extra expense to do those two.
- Digital Experience: Record a sermon and upload it for on-demand viewing on Sunday morning. Use your phone.
- Podcast: Record your sermon for podcast audio. Record it into Audacity (a free software that even works on old computers). Use Anchor.fm as your host. Post it on your website. That’s three steps, and it can be done in 10 minutes once you learn the system.
- Live Videos: Go live every day (or most days) with some encouragement, news, and prayer. Document this moment (COVID-19) in Live videos. Don’t try to create content. Millenials and Gen Z are used to people documenting their lives on video. They want that. They don’t want another cable news or public TV show.
- Connect: Use your social media to show normal life. People want a distraction. Don’t focus on COVID-19 all the time. Make a cooking video (Aside: I just came up with this idea and would love to see a small church or plant do a cooking show just for this coronavirus quarantine). Show your hobbies.
- Use technology to reach out and check on the people in your church. Text, call, email, Zoom. Use technology for more than broadcasting your message. Connect with people. Listen to them. Everyone is starving for connection right now. Use that opportunity.
If you are at a church of 40-125 church:
- All of the above suggestions apply. But at this level you have people to draw from to find a volunteer or three.
- Think about your task as making disciples. Now you have to do it digitally for a season.
- Unbundle your “service.” On your website, YouTube, or Facebook page, separate worship music from the sermon, and the sermon from the call to worship. People will watch a playlist. Go Live for a Call to Worship, post a YouTube playlist (they sound better than your church anyway), pre-record your sermon, and follow up with a Zoom call after the “service.” Maybe you make a Facebook group just for this. This model has been popular in direct sales for several years now.
- Make devotional videos for your community (not the people in your church).
- Create a COVID-19 discipleship plan. Invite some people into a group and meet on Zoom. Set the goal to not waste this time and to prepare those people for making disciples online and in-person after this is all over. What would you
- This could be an awesome opportunity to teach people to take charge of their own spiritual disciplines. Use videos or Zoom calls to teach and give people a chance to practice.
- Go all the way and plant a digital church. Identify the next place you want to reach, name your online church (COVID-19 __________ Church), and then think about launching digital services and advertising to people living in that community.
I believe this is an awesome opportunity for your small church. Don’t waste it or let it slip past.