The long, indefinite period of not meeting together because of COVID-19 can feel like an impossible time to be building community in our churches. But there are always ways for us to connect. Even Paul, when he was in prison during his ministry, found a way to connect with the early church using the technology of letters. Compared with Paul, we have a lot more tools available to help us keep and grow connections within our church communities.
Just about every person’s life across the globe has been affected by COVID-19 and although many of the adjustments we have had to make in our daily lives have been challenging, God is still at work and has a way to reach people with His love.
One of the most powerful ways to connect and share our lives, even while physically distant, is through stories. Hearing people’s stories of how they are coping during this difficult time can help them feel seen and loved, and allow us to learn more about the people in our communities.
At Heartlines, we have worked to put the power of story-sharing into people’s hands in many different contexts. Something like our What's Your Story? for Your Online Church resource might give you some ideas for helping your community connect during this time.
If digital access is challenging for your church members, you could circulate some daily encouragements on WhatsApp or text message, and make sermons available as voice notes or audio files that don’t require as much data to access as videos. Even taking a leaf out of Paul’s book and writing letters, or encouraging members to write to one another, can help people feel cared for and connected. Assigning church leaders to phone members of the church is also another way to meaningfully remind people that they have not been forgotten during this difficult time.
If many of your church members have the means to access the Internet, for instance on their phones, using Facebook can be a data-friendly way to make sermons and worship music available to them. Posting a follow-up question for discussion on Facebook could also give people a personal opportunity to connect over the sermon.
Something as simple as asking a thoughtful question can open a channel for people to share their lives and thoughts, and allows their church leaders to know them better and understand some of their responses to different things that happen.
Many of our What’s Your Story? resources have great question prompts that can help get people started in sharing their stories. Visit our resource centre at www.church.wysza.org to see all the free resources we have available.
Whatever church looks like for your community during this socially distanced season, people are longing for connection and taking a small step to reach out to them can have a big impact on their lives and your wider church community.
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