Momentum had been building in our little rural church plant. We’re 11 months in and we were growing and had new guests visiting. People who had supported the plant but weren’t able to commit to the planting process had returned. It felt like God was bringing this amazing community of believers together and we really were going to change the world starting right here in our little county of 15,000 people.
Then COVID-19 moved its way into our state and our government enacted a stay-at-home order. We had an emergency leadership meeting to decide how we were going to “do church”. We joined the hundreds of thousands of churches and went all digital.
We didn’t expect this year to be this chaotic. This was not included in our 2-year church plant vision! Yet, the reality is that God is doing something really cool in the midst of this.
We’re learning how to navigate this just like you.
Here’s a few things we’ve been learning about shepherding our flock at this time…
Connect Well Digitally
Try out different ways of connecting with your community online. We’ve gotten good engagement from posting videos of our worship leaders singing and by doing a weekly “Hanging with the Jacksons” Facebook Live where we share more of the nuggets we learned during sermon prep that didn’t make it into our sermon. We also have a Facebook group we use to interact with our church members.
Don’t forget to evaluate what’s working. Look at the Insights page of your Facebook and YouTube. When are your people the most active? Which posts get the most views? For us it is videos, but it may be different for you.
Reach Out More Frequently
We’ve had to increase the number of digital “touches” we make with a person because, for now, the physical touch and in-person events are gone.
We sent a church-wide email to encourage our attenders and to ask them to reach out and let us know how we can meet them where they are at.
We also send a text or message to each family every week or two in order to simply ask how they are and if they have any needs. I suggest you ask your core team to reach out to different church members with you on a regular basis.
Determine What Works for Your City
We found that some things just didn’t work in our community. We created fliers that we mailed out to people in the community letting them know we could help if they needed a pharmacy run or groceries brought in. We asked food pantries if they needed any staples. We’ve asked the mayor if we can do anything. We got nothing. No responses.
Each community is a unique mission field. No two churches look alike. Reach out to your community leaders and other local pastors. Now is a great time to learn to work together and find needs that we can meet.
God has been speaking to us, and I’m sure to you too, about some of the ways he will work his glory in this tragedy. We’ve been sensing a revival coming for years now. Now, here were are in a digital revival springing up across the nations!
Taking Your Church Online
About the Author
John and Danelle are bi-voctional church planters and worship leaders living in Martinsville IL. John works as a woodworker in a custom cabinets shop and Danelle is a Family Nurse Practitioner. Their family includes four sons, Garrett, 14, a future leader and drummer, Dane, 7, a transformer of the nation’s and also a drum player, and Bo, 4, who wants to play the electric guitar when he learns how to pronounce it, as well as Balthazaar, 19, who currently lives in California and is living a SoCal life.
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