Dear Pastors & Church Leaders,
As you know, the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic continues to evolve, as we learn more and more about the virus and the need to do everything we can to prevent its spread. Over the past several days, we have begun to experience a new (albeit temporary) normal. All major sporting events for the foreseeable future have been postponed or canceled. All schools in my state have been shut down for the next few weeks. Travel outside the country has been restricted. Popular vacation destinations have been shut down. Just this morning, Kentucky Governor Beshear ordered that restaurant and bar dining rooms must temporarily close. He also announced the first COVID-19-related death in Kentucky. And many people are afraid of what might happen next. These are indeed difficult days.
In light of these developments, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a recommendation on Sunday evening that all events and gatherings throughout the United States that consist of 50 people or more should be postponed for the next 8 weeks. Obviously, this has a direct and major impact on our churches. How you choose to respond to this CDC recommendation is a local church decision. But, I do believe that our churches should love our neighbors by doing everything we can to prevent the spread of this virus.
If you choose to follow the CDC’s recommendation, your church will face at least two major challenges. First, you will not be able to conduct in-person worship services for the next two months. This includes two of the most attended Sundays of the year, Easter and Mother’s Day. Second, it could have a significant negative financial impact if church members are not able to give their tithes and offerings like normal.
I don’t want to downplay the reality of the situation. These are significant challenges. But, I don’t believe these are insurmountable challenges. The coronavirus did not catch God by surprise. He always has been and He always will be in control. And He has called you and equipped you to lead your church for such a time as this. So, in light of the current situation and significant challenges your church now faces, I offer five recommendations:
- Develop plans to offer online worship services.While the CDC is currently recommending that groups of 50+ should not gather together, the reality is that even tighter restrictions may soon come. You need to make plans now to offer online worship services if at all possible. If you need help with setting up a Facebook Live broadcast, please visit pikeassociation.org/coronavirus/ for detailed instructions.
- Develop plans for your Sunday School/small groups.You may consider home groups or online classes (through an app like Skype or Zoom). You may also consider recording a weekly Sunday School lesson from one or more of your Sunday School teachers to post on your website or social media pages.
- Provide alternative giving options.There are two primary alternative giving options if you do not conduct onsite worship services. First, encourage your church members to mail their tithes and offerings to the church. Second, you can provide a way for them to give online. A list of online giving companies/apps is listed on our website at pikeassociation.org/coronavirus/
- Partner with other churches.If you don’t have the technology or ability to implement the first three recommendations, there are probably other churches in your association that do. Perhaps they can help you record your services or provide online giving options. This is a great opportunity for churches to work together unlike ever before.
- Get creative. The reality is that life will be different for at least the next couple of months. In order to continue to shepherd your congregation effectively, you will need to implement creative strategies that you may not be used to. The good news is you’re not alone. We can help one another in a number of ways.
Please know that I am praying for you as you shepherd your congregation through this difficult time. If I can help you in any way, please don’t hesitate to ask!