Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25, The Message)
I am sure there will be a myriad of articles and blogposts about doing church amidst CODVID-19, but in times like these we need a myriad of ideas and ways people are using their God-given creativity to keep the connection with their people. Let’s face it, there are multiple ways this can be done, and every church and ministry is going to have to find a way that works for them. This blogpost is coming from 30 years of experience in full-time ministry and a heart to reach out to the people I serve. This is uncharted ground for everyone, so as you see how others are doing things, don’t assume it is the only way to do it or that they have it figured out. We are all in this together, and that is what makes this unique. That being said, here are a few things our ministry team at the Kroc Church in Omaha, Nebraska are doing to try and help our people feel cared for and connected.
The first is the obvious, streaming worship services. We are blessed and cursed to have the technology that allows us to share what we are doing, thinking, and planning in an instant. The great news is this does not take special equipment or massive budgets. Something as simple as live streaming with an iPhone on Facebook can accomplish the task. At Kroc Church we have moved to recording the worship time with those of us who are in during the week and our pastors recording the sermons. It will be put together in a video and then posted to our Facebook page on Sunday morning during our normal worship service time. Here are a couple of things we are trying to do as we put these services together. We want them to feel like an authentic time of worship for our people, so we are not doing multiple “takes” or going back and fixing mistakes. We simply sit down and worship. The last thing we need is for churches to get into the trap of trying to out produce each other. Remember, these services are meant for your people – they are meant to give them the feel of what would normally happen at church if they were there. If we spend time making these streams slick and produced and changing how our service flows, it will not be what your people are used to and therefore not give them that sense of stability we want to convey. Don’t hear me wrong, we still strive for excellence in all we do and record, we just aren’t going to go back and try to make these videos perfect. If you want to produce a recorded professional show for your church that is a different discussion for a different time.
Another area we are addressing at Kroc Church – how can we connect with our people? Again, we will be streaming a mid-week message with two of the ministry team members during the time we normally would have Wednesday evening activities. This will consist of a short devotional time, and maybe a song or prayer, as well as a time for the kids. The children’s time will give them activities they can do as a family to get people up and moving. Links will also be included with related songs or activities. Our goal again is to present something in a casual way that makes the viewer feel like we are talking to them.
Lastly, I feel like there will be plenty of YouTube, Facebook posts, emails, and texts so why not try a good old fashioned, hand written note. At the Kroc Center we serve a large number of youth. We have a program where these young people are connected with mentors they see on a daily basis. Some of our youth practically live at the center. As the Arts and Education Director of the center, I met with the staff to discuss how we are moving forward. When I suggested we would have cards they could hand write notes to the kids they would not be seeing in person, every mentor responded positively. I told them to write the notes and address them and I would be sure they would get sent. The thought had not occurred to them to write a note. We are so used to email, text, Snapchat, and the list goes on that something in the mail had not even crossed their minds. Some of our families struggle to keep food on the table so internet access is only at school and the Kroc Center. Can you imagine the impact a personal note from one of the mentors coming in the mail to these kids could have?
I have heard many times – “we will get through this together.” I believe it is true. Let’s keep sharing ideas on how we can better connect with each other during this “social distancing.” Who knows, this might be just what we needed to learn how to connect with each other better, using the technology we have and heaven forbid – sending a handwritten note or letter. Let’s see how inventive we can be!
Sing on, friend!
Editor’s Note: Please enjoy these selections from Hal Leonard/Shawnee Press.