The Coronavirus: The Wisest THINGS Ministry Can Do

I don’t like this Coronavirus (AKA) “COVID-19 pandemic”. I don’t like the media hype around it and I certainly don’t like the way politicians are using it for political gain. 

I’m not going to overreact. I'm not stockpiling toilet paper and hand sanitizer to sell back to you on ebay and Amazon either. I will however, as much as I can, understand this crises, take precautions and pay attention. I suggest you do the same because those you lead are watching how you respond.

There are some things ministry leaders should consider as it relates to the ongoing Coronavirus "pandemic", hyped or otherwise. Why? Because whether we believe it's real or imagined, we are all affected by it.

If you’re an outreach ministry, working with the homeless, shelters, or prisons, how do you respond and engage with the people your serving? Do you wear masks and gloves? If you do, how will they receive you? 

Has the perception and the uncertainty of this virus made you and your team afraid to engage the people you minister to and serve? 

If you are a leader of a “church” ministry, will you have a standoff approach when you’re praying for those who ask for prayer? 

Will you touch them or not? 

If you continue to do prayer the way you always have, will you wear gloves and a mask and advise your team to do the same? 

These are some of the questions that have to be considered. 

Many congregations have a sizable group of seniors. If you haven’t heard by now, it’s seniors that are more susceptible to the coronavirus than any other group. 

Think about this: If you have a senior that is feeling as if they are getting ill, not knowing that they are at the early stage of the virus and they ask for prayer, you touch their forehead as you're praying for them with your bare hands, then you touch someone else's forehead. Now you have a problem. 

Now, this may sound far fetched however, there is a pastor in Washington DC, who is the first confirmed coronavirus case in the District. Health officials have asked his congregation to self-quarantine because of their potential contact with him. 

Let this sink in a moment. 

On March 5th, I posted a survey for leaders in my insta-stories on InstagramHere's what I asked.

With the current outbreak of the Coronavirus, will you: 

  • Ask people to stay home if they're sick? 

    100% of the respondents said yes. 

  • Alter or change the way you conduct “Alter Call” or one-on-one prayer? 

    100% of the respondents said yes. 

  • Change the way you greet visitors and those you lead? 

    50% of respondents said either yes or no.

  • I asked, handshake or fist bump? 

    Once again 50% said yes or no. 

  • Will you suspend communion? 

    100% of the respondents said no. 

  • Suspend certain gatherings or services? 

    100% of respondents said no. 

    It's interesting that since the survey, and for whatever reasons, the opinions on suspending gatherings and services are beginning to change. 

As one leader I talked to put it, "If they’re shutting down secular events, it won’t be long before they start shutting down church services." 

He's right!

As I read the article about this DC “church”, I wondered, how major health events in the past affected the ekklesia, the body of Christ (the church). What I found is very interesting and scary. 

However, one thing I know is true, when you know the history of something you can better prepare and respond. 

In AD 251 a plague swept through the Roman Empire, and while everyone was fleeing, many Christian believers stayed to help those that were sick. Many of them, leaders and laymen included, lost their lives as well. 

In the Fall of 1793, yellow fever plagued the city of Philadelphia. “From the moment it began, the yellow fever epidemic was a public-health crisis. Thousands of citizens fled, hospitals became overwhelmed, and dead bodies rotted in homes.” Richard Newman 

It was a black church, lead by Richard Allen, who stayed and gave comfort to the sick. Many died, including members of that small church now known as the AME. 

Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do! And whatever else you do, develop good judgment. Proverbs 4:7 NLT. 

God has not given us the spirit of fear, but he has also given us wisdom. 

I believe that God heals. I believe that we can do all things through Him as He gives us strength. I believe that God is love and we should show the same love to others, especially during this crisis, as He shows to us. I also believe that God gives us the wisdom to do what is good and right. 

Today, we have what these brothers and sisters did not, more technology, knowledge, and understanding about the world we live in. What we do with it shows how much wisdom we have or don't have.

As one leader stated, “We don’t want to be ruled by fear, we don’t want to be foolish about it either.” 

As we confront this virus, here’s some wisdom and wise things you can do and share with those you lead.

  1. Stay Home If You're sick

    No matter if for a meeting, small group, bible study or Sunday gathering if you or anyone on your team or in your congregation is sick are feeling sick, STAY HOME!!!

  2. Wear Gloves and Masks

    If you’re leading outreach in the community, working with the homeless, those in shelters, recovery centers, or prison ministry, wear gloves and masks and have your teams do the same. 

  3. Communicate

    Take some time to communicate and explain to those you’re serving and ministering to why you’re wearing gloves and masks, and why it's important for their safety as well as yours.

    Send out communications via email and social media communicating this to your team and congregation. 

    The news and information about the Coronavirus are fluid, so as needed, send out a communication to those you lead about updates, changes, meetings as well as encouragement. Communicate the who, what, when and most importantly the why.

  4. Conduct Basic Hygiene

    We should always wash our hands. Coronavirus or no virus. Washing our hands is just good, smart hygiene. Make sure your team does the same. 

    I also suggest assigning someone to remind the team and those you lead to wash their hands.

  5.  Reach Out!

    Don’t be afraid to reach out to health care professionals for the latest information about this virus and any new recommendations. 

  6. Connect With Other Sensible Leaders

    Connect with leaders with wisdom and prudence.

I agree that leaders shouldn’t overreact to this issue but it doesn’t mean you and your staff can’t plan and prepare. So put together a plan. A good leader knows that a plan today can be useful tomorrow. 

Here's something else to consider. 

Increasingly, political leaders around the nation are banning large gatherings, from 250 in cities in the state of Washington and Maryland and 500 plus in the city of New York and the list of cities is growing.

Places, where social gatherings take place, are closing every day. If you are asked or forced to suspend group meetings and gatherings of any kind, what's your next move? 

Ministries large and small are opting to live stream events and sermons. If this is something your organization is doing, or is interested in doing, my friend Phil Cooke, television and media consultant to ministry leaders has put together this video just for you.

In recent ministry tips I shared why you should understand your digital platform, and why having an online platform is important. This Coronavirus crisis is a great example why you should.

I've also talked and written about how t
he digital age has and is changing the way the current and future 'church' meets, from a designated time and place, to anytime, anywhere and sometimes. And how the building, called 'church' shouldn't be the center of a ministry, but one of many options you now have to reach people. 

Having an online presence gives you options. Unfortunately, many ministries, if they have to suspend social gatherings will have no options. However, this is a good time to build one. So get started. Put your personal Facebook account to work and get to work. 

This is also a great time to take a look at small groups and even what's known as simple or house gatherings. This form of gathering gives you another option for those you lead to come together and worship during this time of crisis.

Tim Kurtz has been in ministry for over 30 years and is instrumental in planting successful small groups for over a decade. He is the founder of The Ekklesia Center. He and his team develop networks of house gatherings that reflect the values and structure of first century Christianity.

No matter what happens, we are still the children of light. So let it shine.


Popular Posts This Week

6 Ways to Influence Change When You're Not In Charge

Muhammad Ali: What Christians Should Understand