Together while apart – doing church during a pandemic

What's Your Story? , Community , Church , COVID-19

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 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.

Featured image by CAPITOL STANDARD on Unsplash


You may also like

I am an image
Fikile Poka

Our unsung sheroes

For many women married to clergymen, there is little recognition of their existence and contribution to the growth of the ministries their partners are labouring in. We take a moment to honour them. 

Read more about Our unsung sheroes
I am an image

Heartlines partners with UNICEF to promote COVID-19 vaccinations for the elderly

Heartlines and the Oak Foundation supported UNICEF's #Grandkids4Gogos campaign to help increase access to COVID-19 vaccines for people over 50 around South Africa. 

Read more about Heartlines partners with UNICEF to promote COVID-19 vaccinations for the elderly
I am an image
Seth Naicker

Arise with courageous compassion

[Stories of Hope] Seth reflects on the difficulties of the recent unrest and destruction and shares how listening deeply to people and acknowledging their pain can help us rebuild in a more equitable, just way.

Read more about Arise with courageous compassion
I am an image

Like Water is for Fish - How Story Shapes Lives: Exclusive Books Book Launch 3 March 2021

The Exclusive Books launch was hosted by seasoned journalist and media personality Paula Fray and the conversation touched on a number of fascinating and noteworthy topics such as vulnerability, mental health and, of course, storytelling.

Read more about Like Water is for Fish - How Story Shapes Lives: Exclusive Books Book Launch 3 March 2021
I am an image

Like Water is for Fish: The power of story in our lives

Heartlines CEO Dr Garth Japhet has released his debut book, which weaves together stories from his life and tales from other notable South Africans, including Lillian Dube, Zapiro and Gcina Mhlophe, to show the power that stories have in our lives.

Read more about Like Water is for Fish: The power of story in our lives
I am an image

Re-finding fellowship in a COVID-19 world

This year, COVID-19 has forced the church to find new ways to fellowship and create connections in a sometimes isolated, fearful environment. So how have church leaders and communities been staying connected, and how are they reconnecting? Read more about Re-finding fellowship in a COVID-19 world