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Resources For Responding To COVID-19

Resources for Responding to COVID-19

Over the last week our family of churches, like others, has been responding to Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic which has impacted our communities and communities around the world. This tragedy has created an incredible opportunity for churches to work together as we seek to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

To that end, we wanted to share the resources we have been collecting and developing in case they serve others. Many of these have been created by other churches and networks. They have helped us, and we hope they serve you as well.

Topics:

General Resources

Leadership

How do I lead with sensitivity but an overcoming spirit?

  • Lead with (1) wisdom, (2) gospel hope, and (3) sacrificial generosity.
  • Lead your people to the promises of God.
  • Be a regular, non-anxious presence.
  • Lead your people to pray.
  • Help your people look with eyes of faith.
    • God does his best work in times of crisis. What is God trying to teach us in this one?
  • Help your leaders adjust to the new normal.
    • Your mission is still the same; your strategy has just changed.
    • Write a new ministry plan for the next two months.
  • Start thinking about the next phase.

How do I intentionally combat my own fear and anxiety as a leader?

Gospel Response and Opportunity

How do we best serve our community?

  • Most of us have two groups of people in our churches: (1) people that are tough and want to be out there and shouldn’t; (2) people that are scared and storing up food and need to be encouraged and challenged. Speak to both.
    • Encourage the former to be wise and heed the advice of government authorities.
    • Encourage the latter to be generous and look for opportunities to be like Jesus to others. God has used the church in times of crisis when the church lives sacrificially on mission.
  • Point your people toward places they can make the biggest impact for the least of these. Some of those people in this season are: (1) the elderly; (2) hourly workers; (3) medical workers; (4) single moms; (5) under-resourced families.
  • Communicate to you people how they can give and serve: Summit RDU How to Care for Our Community During Coronavirus
  • Check on your vulnerable neighbors. For those you don’t know, use neighbor help cards.
  • Check on and support local businesses.
  • Work with other churches in your area to coordinate efforts: www.lovenortheastdenver.com
  • Revisit When Helping Hurts to think about how we can help best as our resources are limited. Summit RDU developed this guide for how we are adjusting our benevolence practices for COVID-19.

How can we proclaim the gospel to our community?

  • Build relationships with neighbors who are stuck at home.
  • Share the reason for the hope you have.
  • Speak to non-Christians through your online communication.
    • There will be people watching online that aren’t connected to your church. In the same way that Tim Keller says that if you assume non-Christians are in the room when you preach they will likely show up, we should assume non-Christians are listening to our communication and speak to them.
  • Encourage your people to share how God is leading them.
    • Short video testimonials
    • Sharing resources
    • Inviting people to watch with them online, even hosting watch parties on Facebook

Live-Streaming

How do we live stream if we have never done it?

  • There are 3 major options for “live-streaming”: (1) pre-recording a video that you post online; (2) simulating a live stream by pre-recording and streaming it during pre-set service times; (3) actual live-streaming.
    • Option 1 is the simplest and takes the least know-how and equipment.
    • Option 2 is great if you can get the hardware because it (1) enables your people to “gather” online during set service times and (2) gives you a backup you can link to if you have challenges with streaming the recording.
    • Option 3 can be the most authentic, but most churches will want to stay away from option because of instability.
  • How to Get Started
  • Important things to keep in mind:
    • You’ve got to crawl before you can run. Your livestream will probably not be as good as you want when you start. That’s okay. People don’t need to be wowed by your livestream; they need to be encouraged by God’s word.
    • Less is more: (1) People interact differently with a live stream and their interaction drives the experience. People don’t typically listen to a 35-45 minute message online. Consider shortening your message and worship and encouraging more interaction at home (guided prayer, etc.). (2) Consider simplifying worship to fewer instruments and singers.
    • Whatever option you go with, make sure it is visible and accessible; people shouldn’t have to search for your live stream on your website or social media on Sunday morning. You may want to provide instructions on how your people can access it.
  • Important things to communicate:
    • We’re not replacing the gathered church; we’re using the best means available to communicate while we can’t gather.
    • What do you want kids to do?
  • More advanced suggestions:
    • You don’t do church online the same way you gather; there is a difference between live-streaming a worship service and creating something with a home viewer in mind.
      • Frame closer shots of people who are leading various elements of the service.
      • Vary the image on the screen so that it’s not static. If you can, employ different camera angles and shots.
      • Tips for preaching to a camera
    • Audio is important. Sound will be more noticeable online than live in a room. Investing in a good microphone and recording in a room with good acoustics will make a big difference.
    • Think about recording worship songs and putting them into a hopper to be used at different times in different venues.
  • Facilitating online interaction: 11 ways to embrace streaming
    • If you decide to open chat, have a moderator.
    • Create a doc with things you want to paste into chat.
    • The first 30 seconds are the most important. Communicate: Who are we? What is the purpose of the video? What do you want people to do? (share, comment, like)
    • Have a plan for responding to different types of comments – if you ask for prayer requests, have moderators pray for that person in chat and make appropriate plans to follow up with that person.
    • Life Church, Host Team Training

How do we respond to decisions and assimilate online?

  • Create a process for facilitating online decisions.
    • Point people to an online form that you mention during the service (beginning, middle, end). Identify who will respond.
    • If you open chat, train chat moderators to follow up with people.
  • Move people into online groups (more below)
    • Connect people into existing online groups and train your leaders to respond. 
    • Create special online group(s) that people can join as a transition step to moving them into physical community – see this diagram.

Discipleship/Shepherding

Should we go online with groups? What are options and alternatives?

How is this an opportunity to shepherd our people?

  • Divide up members and call/Facetime them.
    • Summit RDU identified 7 groups in our church that will need special care: over 60, medical workers, teachers, single moms, international students, and hourly workers; we’re working to build lists of people in those groups and reach out to them.
    • We started with members 60 and up first, divided them up among our pastors to reach out and make phone calls.
  • Weekly or daily video devotionals from staff.
  • Have your people make and share 90-second videos to connect and encourage one another.
  • Think about not only your group meeting space (Google Hangouts, Zoom) but home base – how do you want people communicating and encouraging one another during the week? (text groups, GroupMe, Slack, WhatsApp, Facebook Groups)
  • Summit RDU Spiritual Formation Guide – Don’t Waste Your Quarantine
  • For kids:

Finances

How should we prepare for potential financial impact? Short-term and mid-term?

  • At this point, it is difficult to predict what we will experience. Experts are predicting 20% unemployment and higher. This will hit some churches hard than others, but we can all begin to develop contingency plans.
  • Art Rainer, How to Create a Financial Contingency Plan for Your Church
    • If your church has online giving, you will have 3-4 data points to begin planning: weekend giving, online giving, recurring online giving, and expenses.
    • As you look at fixed vs. variable costs, note that some costs will drop because you are not doing things you had planned.
    • A big expense to look at if you’re in a rented facility will be whether you have to pay rent if you’re not using the facility. Some churches will choose to continue to provide that support regardless; others may have to opt-out.
    • We generally recommend churches keep at least 3 months of operational expenses as margin. If you don’t have that kind of margin, it may seem late to cut costs and start saving, but you are better off doing so if you can in the event this lasts longer.
  • Potential Loan & Financing Options:
    • For SBC churches, some State Conventions and Foundations provide assistance. Check with your local association.
    • Some insurance companies (Brotherhood Mutual)
    • Local banks, especially if you have a relationship.
    • There is some early indication that the Senate Bill may include support for churches if you are open to receiving that.

What about people that normally give on the weekend?

  • In some cases, many of our people will lose their jobs or have to cut back, so we need to be sensitive when encouraging people to give. Still, many of your people who normally give in person will want to know how to give during this season.
  • Blair Graham and Art Rainer, How to Encourage Online Giving When In-Person Giving is Not Possible
  • If your church offers financial coaching and can move it online, it will be a great way to serve your people in the coming months.
  • For people and churches who don’t give online: use snail mail.
  • Free 30-min stewardship consultation from Generis – SIGN UP
  • Stadia, Advancing Financial Stewardship During Difficult Times

Communication

What should we communicate to our staff and our people?

  • For your people:
  • For your staff:
    • Care – do not neglect your staff in this season; they’re scared, and many of them will be working crazy hours, some with working spouses and/or kids at home, others who are single and at home by themselves.
    • Coordination – in crisis everyone wants to get busy; we need to make sure we’re headed in the same direction.
    • Communication – this is a rapidly evolving situation; communication is key.

Easter

What should we do for Easter? 

  • Kairos Network, Advanced Steaming and Easter Ideas
  • Create a website – Easterfor(insertyourcommunity).com – if you don’t have a place to watch, watch here
  • If your area is not under stay-at-home restrictions, some churches may consider renting radio wavelength and doing drive-in church

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