This week I had the privilege of participating in an extended discussion with a group of pastors. These are unique times for those who are leading churches and feeding God’s people. While each local church and community is unique they all have one thing in common – they are being called on to minister in unprecedented ways.

One of the greatest challenges is simply staying connected with the church family in the midst of “social distancing.” As I listened to these good men talk I heard their heart. The shepherd will always find a way! Allow me to share a few of the ways pastors are working to “gather” the sheep…

Enabling People To Join A Worship Service

  • Using YouTube, Vimeo, and embedded online video streaming through their church website
  • Using Social Media platforms such as Facebook Live
  • Using Free Conference Call to allow those without internet access to call in and listen to the service
  • Using drive-in services with local radio broadcasting of the service

Encouraging People To Interact

One of the dangers is that church members can become spectators and not participants! How can we help people get involved online?

  • Giving practical instructions in advance of how to make the most of an online meeting
  • Providing words on the screen so that those at home can join in the singing
  • Asking people to comment on the online platform (who is listening, how many are watching with them, etc.)
  • Allowing listeners to call or text in praises that can be shared in the service
  • Inviting each person to join in specific seasons of prayer and send in prayer requests (One place we can all go together right now is to the throne of grace!)
  • Calling on people to open their own copy of the Word of God and follow along during the message, taking notes, and marking the Bible text
  • Providing varied ways to give (i.e. online giving using a platform such as Anecdot, bringing it by the church during designated times, calling in with their card, mailing in their offering, text to give, etc.)
  • Challenging people to respond in their home to the message through prayer and sharing with others how God has spoken to them (A slide could show a phone number where people can call or text for spiritual counsel and prayer.)
  • Involving small groups in Bible studies and fellowships: children, teens, men, ladies, etc.

Enlisting People To Minister To Others

While members cannot work in their regular ministry at this time there are a few ways that they can reach out to others…

  • By sharing the online service with others through social media and word of mouth
  • By dividing up senior citizens, and those who are sick and alone, to be called, written, and checked on
  • By participating in a private church family Facebook group where special needs and updates can be shared
  • By providing special gospel literature to be distributed to family and neighbors

Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. This week I am recording a number of Bible messages for churches where I was scheduled to preach. These messages will be played online for their people in the coming days. While it is not the same as being with them, it is a blessing that we are still able to minister the Word of God.

I certainly appreciate the prayers and encouragement of God’s people right now. We should all be praying for pastors, evangelists, missionaries, and church workers. Do all you can to help your local church. Soon we will meet together again…

What ideas have you seen that could be shared with others? Please comment below with any suggestions you think may be helpful.