In the mind of the ministry leader lots of thoughts race through our heads:
What about the hit we will take with people away from the Word and Sacrament? (We don’t want to gather with more than 10 people, cause offense if we do, risk spread of the virus, but we don’t want people to be separated from the Word and sacrament!)
What about the hit we will take as people experience “social distancing” for extended weeks? We call it the “communion of saints” and we know that if this slips along with the distance from God’s means of grace it will not be a net positive.
What about the hit we will take in our offerings? (Money is tight already)
So what do we do?
We have lots of options.
First, many of you have been diving into live streaming either on facebook, YouTube or something else. Great!
But there are challenges there too. Many seniors just don’t get the technology thing. Should they be left without?
Then some will not tune in because it is just too enticing to watch the ongoing stream of bad news on the television. Or because it is a different pattern they just won’t be that intentional.
So then what?
You could organize “watch parties” of 10 or less at people’s houses. Organize it through email sign up, telephone calling (which should be ramping up to multiple times a week by pastor and elders and Stephen ministers and other church caregivers anyway) or other means.
Keep it to 10 people or less and get volunteer hosts who have enough space and chairs to distance people comfortably.
Email or have downloadable pdf’s of the service - include readings, prayers, - leave a space for the video sermon. Then prayerfully consider how you will handle communion. Consult with the pastor on how you will handle the arrangements. You may include pre-recorded hymns from YouTube as well or live streaming the organ or other music as well.
The technical issues can be worked out ahead of time whether you use Facebook live with an adapter to your phone to an HDMI cable to your big screen tv or you have a pre-recorded YouTube video or stream through YouTube with the same adapter and HDMI cable. Yet with enough pre-planning, those details can be worked out with each host. It is simply another opportunity to collaborate and engage in a higher purpose to bring people together and bring God’s Word to people.
This can be a way to strengthen the ties of the communion of saints during a stressful time. It would also be a way for people to invite friends and neighbors to church and share the hope of the Gospel during a time of anxiety. It is a time to be the church! You could even include a pot luck!
The seniors could be picked up. They wouldn’t have to worry about the technology.
Throughout the calling, the contacts and the event itself, people would be talking. People would have a very important and meaningful purpose to immerse themselves in as an alternative to the “who knows what’s going to happen next” news of the day. Friendships would be formed and strengthened. The church could really be the church apart from the sometimes lonely or isolated experience of going to church and talking to few, if any other people. It can be a wonderful way to be salt and light to the neighbors. God is under control.
At the end of the service you can talk about what's next. Put it on the pdf file that is printed and handed out at people’s homes. Specifically ask: How would we like to continue going forward? Next Sunday? Another day? Share contact information? Keep in touch through spontaneous phone calls? What else? People will come up with awesome ideas.
This is a wonderful opportunity to draw closer together rather than drift further apart. It only requires a little leadership and asking the question, “what if…?”
God bless you!