The world is facing an unprecedented situation with the spread of COVID-19, and many of us who are responsible for building churches and communities are looking at ways that we can continue to connect and care whilst we must be physically distant from each other.
We’ve been watching the web this week, and wanted to share 5 great ideas for keeping connected with your community whilst being physically distant.
Internet solutions to keep connecting face to face
Many churches have begun using internet video conferencing software to keep meeting and speaking together. Applications such as Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, and Google Hangouts are all being used to keep people connected. They can either be used to ‘stream’ acts of worship, or to host bible studies, or pastoral catch ups.
Scheduling community rituals at certain times
Some churches and communities have agreed to pray at a certain time each day, or to light a candle and place it in their window at a certain time each evening as a symbol of their praying together with and for the community. Whilst not directly communicating with each other, this helps people feel connected.
‘Takeaway’ church boxes
A few churches have prepared ‘take-away’ church boxes – containing printed prayers, bible study resources, activities for kids, and even sweets(!) for members to be able to continue church from home.
Co-ordinating support for the vulnerable and self isolating
The church has always been on the front line in supporting the vulnerable in their communities, and at a time like this, it is needed more than ever. Some churches and members have posted notes through their neighbours doors with contact details saying that if anyone is self-isolating and needs groceries or medicines, or to chat, they can call. Others have coordinated donations to food banks through collections, or online through the Trussell Trust website, or www.bankuet.co.uk.
Connecting with the wider church through other media
The BBC has announced that it plans to broadcast a worship service through all their local radio stations each Sunday, initially led by the Archbishop of Canterbury. This service will broadcast on all BBC local radio stations in England at 8am and will premier online at 9am this Sunday 22 March. If some church members don’t have access to web streaming services, they will be able to feel connected to the wider church through this service. Other churches have emailed playlists of church and worship music through Spotify and other music streaming services, for people to use at home.
We hope these ideas can help you as you continue to lead church and build community. At the Gregory Centre, we’re praying daily for you, your communities, and everyone involved in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.