How to make this “timeout” work for you and your church
As we stop during this time out, let’s keep our eyes focused on Jesus knowing that He is with us and for us. The Lord will be glorified through all of this. His Church will thrive. | by Dale C. Bronner
While the world is filled with fear and uncertainty, we as the church have a critical opportunity to be a brilliant source of light, hope, faith and comfort. God is getting the attention of the world. He is giving us a global “timeout.”
“Timeout” is a disciplinary tactic that adults use for children to think about what they have done that was unacceptable. The focus is not to punish but to correct inappropriate behavior.
I am convinced that this global health crisis, whether God-sent or God-used, will help to spark revival in our world and turn people to God. This can be one of the finest hours for the Church.
How can you prepare during this unique hour?
1. Seek Wisdom
As we plan to survive this pandemic, we must first pray and seek the wisdom of God according to James 1:5. “A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences” (Prov. 27:12 NLT). That means we must plan for how we respond to those in need of our services and how we will move forward to the future in recovery.
2. Get Advisors
Pull a team of trusted advisors together, both within and outside your ministry. Consult with government agencies (i.e., Centers for Disease Control (CDC), county government officials, city officials, state officials) to discover their recommendations and/or mandates. Another idea is to consult with others in ministry to discover some of their best practices during this time.
3. Encourage People to Take Care
Each geographic area is different. We must be responsible by informing people of best practices to stay safe and curtail the spread of the disease, yet we need to point people toward faith and build their hope. If there are business owners in your congregation, survey them to see who is in a position to hire people who have been furloughed or laid off.
4. Become Clear and Aware
Crisis helps to create clarity. During a crisis, you become clear as to what really matters most to you. Awareness is the beginning of change. It is good to see where you are currently in terms of finances, resources, and services that you can make available to needy people.
5. Innovate to Minister
Find a way to stay in contact with your people. It is important during a time like this to communicate consistently and frequently. Connect with phone calls, Facetime, text messages, emails, letters, and online services.
I’ve organized a team to reach out regularly and make phone calls to our senior citizens who may not be comfortable using technology. We check up on them weekly to make sure they are okay, pray with them, see if they have any physical needs [food, medicine, water], and encourage their faith.
6. Hold Regular Services
Although we cannot physically meet together for worship, we can still connect by means of technology. Provide a means for people to receive at least one live streamed message for your ministry per week (i.e., Facebook Live, YouTube, LiveStream, etc.).
We can even implement a virtual celebration of communion (The Lord’s Supper) by encouraging our viewers to have their own grape juice and crackers and we lead them in the observance online.
Make sure that you make online giving options available to your members.
7. Serve the Community
Whatever a person focuses on will increase either faith or fear in them. Look for unique opportunities to share your faith and do acts of kindness to your community during this time. People need God, and people need people. We must remain connected emotionally and spiritually even as we observe “physical distancing” (my term for “social distancing”).
8. Provide Tools
People find comfort and security in doing the routine. We can help people by establishing some ideas of things they can include in their daily lives (i.e., prayer, Bible reading, exercise, completing unfinished assignments, spring cleaning, etc.). During times of crisis while uncertainty is in the air, we need anchors. Our anchors are the stable principles (love, joy, faithfulness, patience, compassion, wisdom, forgiveness, peace, righteousness, prayer, humility, grace) upon which our faith is built which never change.
9. See the Big Picture
Keep the big picture in mind as we face this crisis. We are still the Church – we are just the Church scattered instead of the Church gathered. It never really was about the building but the people. We must remind everyone that “This too shall pass.” Our God is faithful. We will
survive this. And for those ministries that do not have contingency funds, this is a great learning experience to build at least three months of income to be able to be sustained and help others during times like these.
10. Easter is Still Easter
Recently Bishop T.D. Jakes was asked what he thought about not being able to gather in worship on Easter Sunday. He responded, “The first Easter didn’t have many people there either. Just a few people in the garden.” As you plan for one of the biggest seasons in our year, encourage your people to focus on the meaning of the day, not the pageantry.
During all of this, we must keep our eyes focused on Jesus, knowing that He is with us and for us. I can sense that a great harvest of souls is coming out of this crisis. The Lord will be glorified through all of this. His Church will thrive. His glory will be revealed.
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