You are in social distancing, so should ministry stop? Absolutely not! Here are 7 ways to minister in times of social distancing.
The air is heavy, and people are feeling many emotions. Share joy with them during this time!
Find videos, photos, memes, or other things that can bring laughter, joy, and smiles into the lives of those in your sphere of influence. Share these via text messages, social media, or emails.
Please do not share memes, videos, or jokes about Covid-19. You do not know the many ways this situation is impacting their family. Instead, use things from your ministry, cute puppies, or The Office. Help them focus on other things and do not make jokes about the current situation.
Comedic relief can bring great joy in even the darkest moments. Use this as a way to minister to students, parents, and your leaders.
Host an Online Leader Gathering
Many of your leaders may be off work or bored at home. Host an online leader gathering for your people.
During your time together, talk about personal things, share about how they can minister during this time, or play a game with them. Give your leaders a sense of community when everything else around them is taking their community away.
Hangout With Students But Not In Person
Why not hang out with students but not in person? There are many ways that you can connect with students today.
Send students personalized text messages. Let them know that you have not forgotten them and that even when they feel alone, they are never alone.
Call your students! Yes, call them. It seems weird, and it may be awkward, but give them a good old fashioned phone call.
Use Google Hangouts, Skype, or Zoom to video call several students at once. Most of these services are free and can 10+ people on the call. Why not play a game with them? Pull out the classic games and conversation starters like Two Truths and A Lie, Never Have I Ever, or Good Thing, Bad Thing.
Reach Out To Parents
Reach out to parents through phone calls, text messages, or emails. Parents are wrestling with their emotions in the midst of what feels like chaos.
Set up a video conference for the parents in your ministry. Share ideas of activities the family can do to bond during this time. Share with them questions you hear students asking right now. Just provide a space for them to hear from you as a leader and to air out their concerns.
You can be a support for parents, and in return, you will gain allies.
Inspire Your Sphere of Influence
Use this time to inspire your sphere of influence. Share daily devotions through text messages or social media.
Film or live stream yourself giving a message that you planned to share at your next group meeting. Instagram Live is a great way to do this because it is free, and many students will receive a notification that you are live. You may even be able to host an answer and question time this way.
Whatever you do, try to give space for interaction. Encourage students to share video responses to your devotions or messages. Ask them to answer your questions in the comments section.
Technology has given us many ways to engage our sphere, so use it to inspire them.
Invest in the Ministry
Social isolation can be an opportunity for you to invest in the ministry.
Spend time preparing lessons in advance. Work on your fall retreat ideas. Plan out your games or leader schedules.
Take time to evaluate the past year of ministry. Are you working towards your mission? Are there areas that are not moving towards your purpose? What adjustments should you consider next year?
Alone time is an excellent opportunity to look at the big picture of your ministry. Use this extra time wisely and strategically by planning and evaluating your past.
Invest in Your Spiritual Growth
We, as leaders, often fail at investing in ourselves. Use this time to invest in your spiritual growth.
Read a book that challenges you. Study an entire book in the Bible. Spend extra time in prayer. Participate in an activity that refuels you. Exercise.
You are being forced to pull away from others socially, so why not spend extra time with Jesus. Your growth during this time will help you better minister through the chaos and after the storm.
Ministry doesn’t have to stop because of social distancing. We need to consider doing things differently than usual. Who knows, maybe you will discover these new ways can be used even during regular times of ministry!
Stay well, friends!
Rev. Brian Lawson is the Director of Leadership Development and Client Services for YMI and has served in youth ministry since 2004. He also serves as a pastor in the Florida Conference of the UMC. Brian holds a Master of Ministry with a focus in organizational culture, team-based leadership, change, conflict, and peacemaking from Warner University. In addition to his degrees from Warner, he studied Christian Education at Asbury Theological Seminary. Click the social links below to engage with Brian.