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Coronavirus and the Church: a Pastoral Response

3/18/20 11:04 AM / by Denis Greene

In some ways, we are all in uncharted waters with the public health updates of the past few weeks. In any moment of history, the Church has an opportunity to retract in fear or to reach out to the margins and be Christ's love for our neighbors. In this blog post we discuss how your church can survive and thrive in spite of the pandemic. The key message in our recommended communications is that, though services may be temporarily cancelled, the church is alive and responding! The Church carries on its mission, especially in times of crisis.
 
Coronavirus A Pastoral Response
 

A Church's Response to Coronavirus

  1. Reach out to your members to communicate changes and offer support. Are services cancelled? Are volunteer opportunities available online? People are wanting both information and opportunities for connection as social distancing increases.
  2. Send communications by email and posts on social media. Changes are happening quickly, so instant electronic communications are best to get information out while it's still relevant.
  3. Create a video announcement from the senior pastor sharing that ministry work has increased in complexity. Upload your video to YouTube and include a link in your emails/social posts. Share in this message:
    • Updates on ministries and worship services.
    • Invitation to receive updates from the church via phone, email, and social media.
    • Invitation to support the church through time, treasure, and/or talent during this crisis.
    • A sample script is included below. 
  4. Improve your ability to receive donations. When some people miss worship, they do not give.
    • 39% of donors are comfortable giving online with a debit or credit card, so make sure that your website is set up to receive gifts this way ASAP. Include the option to make it a recurring gift.
    • 25% are comfortable giving by check, so consider mailing out a letter with a return envelope. If you receive a gift by mail, then respond with a thank you note and include a return envelope.
    • The most radical concept is to prepare to receive a gift by phone. Please prepare your office staff to walk a member through the process of making a gift while on the phone. Ideally your website is ready to receive the gift, but some people may be hesitant to take the leap. A church staff member could guide them through the process.
    • Text to give can be arranged through a firm that specializes in this process. 
    • More information about modern giving options can be found in our intro guide to electronic giving.

Video From Pastor Script

"Hi. This is Pastor [Name] from [Church Name]. I wanted to reach out with a few updates from the church.  Many of you have seen that services have been cancelled through [date]. I want you to know that, though we may not see each other in worship over the next few Sundays, we are busy meeting the needs of our congregation members. Since we cannot meet in our ministries face to face, we are implementing new systems on social media and through video teleconference. Worship, education, ministry and formation will still happen, it will have to happen on the phone and on your computer screen. We need to implement the new system and teach our members how to use the new technology.
 
If the church does not have your email and phone number, please share your contact information with the church. You may do this by calling or emailing the office. 
 
We are needing to think creatively about meeting the spiritual needs of our brothers and sisters. I would like to invite you to volunteer to check in with our members virtually: on the phone, by social media and by Zoom or Google Hangouts. We'll provide a few questions to ask on your calls including 1) do they need any support 2) how can we pray for them. If you could volunteer an hour or two per week that would be great. Please call [Name] at xxx-xxx-xxxx to volunteer. 
 
During this unique time, the church continues to provide needed services to the community and relies on your support: please give generously. Since we will not be in church together for the next few weeks, please click on the link below to go to our website where you can give by credit card, debit card, Paypal, text, EFT, Venmo. Thank you, stay well, and God Bless"
 

Example Message from Pastor

Pastor Neil at Hillcrest Christian Church worked with his Church Development capital campaign consultant to send this message below to his members.

 
 

Final Note

Please encourage members to give generously right now. While being sensitive to the reality that many members may have been financially effected by recent events, the church needs the support to respond to the Coronavirus crisis and serve its members. 
 
All of us here at Church Development are praying for you as you reach out to those in need. In all things, God is with us.

Topics: Stewardship Ministry

Denis Greene

Written by Denis Greene

Greene began working in the nonprofit development field in 1981. He founded Church Development in 1992 after a near-death experience motivated him to integrate his faith, education and skills in work that served the church and the virtue of stewardship. He has helped over 200 churches across the USA raise more than $200,000,000. He is the author of The Stewardship System, Stewardship-Based Capital Campaigns, and How To Ask For Donations as well as numerous articles on stewardship.

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