While many predicted a second wave of the COVID virus and related shutdowns, very few thought it would be this serious. At the same time, the impact is vastly different across the country. In some states, church is pretty much business as usual, while in places like Los Angeles (where I live) it’s becoming a ghost town.
Despite the stage of lockdowns in your area, chances are, this is getting old for you and your congregation. Even if you’ve weathered the storm pretty well, I imagine your finances are beginning to feel the strain. So when it comes to pushing through this final stage before the vaccine and herd immunity kicks in, here’s five important things to consider:
1) Hopefully, this has convinced you that live-streaming your services and other digital communication are here for good. The church lockdown has changed the way people do church, and I believe a significant number of people will be cutting back actual physical attendance by a Sunday or two a month. So don’t for a minute think your live-streaming days are over. In fact, I would use this opportunity to make it as strong and effective as possible for the future.
2) Keep telling the story of your mission and purpose. Show that during this virus, you’re still out there making a positive impact, and changing lives for the better. Show results. This is not the time to ask for money without showing how you’re using it. People are still hurting and concerned about how long their finances will last. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t people out there still passionate about your vision, and who want to help it be accomplished.
This is another reason why your communication and media team is so important right now. You should be telling your story on social media, email blasts, short videos, and on your live stream. Show people how their financial support is making a difference in your community.
3) Speaking of communication, hopefully, pastors and ministry leaders have learned the lesson that communication and media are just as important as missions, youth ministry, music, and more. One thing COVID has taught many pastors and ministry leaders is the critical importance of a skilled communication and media team. In a world where we’re forced to communicate online, understanding how to maximize that experience, keep your story out there, and stay connected with a congregation, donors, or supporters has become incredibly clear. Use this time to build a stronger team and get them the tools they need to share your message with the world.
4) Produce a seminar or class specifically designed to help your church members re-start their career, and get back on track financially. Think about it: who in your congregation has knowledge and skills to help teach a class on job hunting, preparing resumes, and conducting successful job interviews? Who can teach on networking, personal branding, or how to launch a new business?
When people get back to work, that transforms entire families. It alleviates stress and renews their purpose. Plus, it will help get your church finances back to normal as well. Start right now. Pinpoint the business leaders in your church who can lead the initiative. Make the classes in-person or Zoom. Sponsor a job fair. Partner with a local organization focused on helping people into the job market.
5) If you’ve ever thought about making serious changes in your church or ministry, this is the moment. Emerging from a crisis can be the best time to re-brand, re-think, or re-invent your organization, your career, and your life. Most of the time, people hate change, but after nearly a year of hearing phrases like “a new normal,” and “things are going to be different,” over and over, people are naturally assuming change is about to happen.
Nearly every pastor or ministry leader in the world wants to change something – what about you? The church name, organizational chart, order of service, branding, small groups, graphic design, music team, logo, staff, leaders – whatever it is, this is the time to do it. Right now, people understand that things will be different, and I believe the general public may never again be this open to change. So take advantage of it and make it happen – and soon.
While in some parts of the world, things are looking worse than ever, this can also be the moment for your greatest breakthrough. Re-read this list, and write down how you can adapt it to your team, your congregation, and your life.
In many ways, the future has never been brighter…
Phil Cooke, Ph.D. is a producer and media consultant to churches and ministries across the country. His latest book is “The Way Back: How Christians Blew Their Credibility and How We Get It Back.” Find out more at www.philcooke.com.