How do we invite our local community to join us in the current climate involving fear of close proximity and government restrictions?
You may have read articles like this and this, telling us that Australians are looking to God for answers and calling out to Him as a result of the chaos of 2020. So, we want to be there to point them to Jesus! But how do we do it when our gatherings have to be limited and we've had to place restrictions on how often our church buildings are open due to cleaning requirements to remain Covid Safe?
Thankfully we have a God who is in control, who is present with us, and who has not pressed pause on his mission to seek and save the lost. The commission given to disciples of Christ in Matthew 28 does not stop, pause or take a break. God is using this global pandemic to call his lost children to himself! And as disciples of Christ, it's our privilege to be a part of it.
You may be feeling a little hamstrung as to how to go about this when people are hesitant to gather in larger numbers or to be in close proximity to others at all (not to mention the government regulations we need to adhere to as well!). But here are a few ideas to keep your church on mission and encourage your people to reach out to friends, family and communities with the gospel right now - right in the time when people are seeking answers!
Consider running events in smaller capacities. This might mean having to provide the same event multiple times to be able to fit all people who want to come along, however it does not have to be a huge amount of energy to pull off! People are longing to reconnect and are wanting to feel part of community again - running small, low-key events are better than not having anything at all. Events at a small capacity, that are well thought out but with low resources and high gospel content, can have a really big impact!
Some examples you might considering running: — midweek evangelistic courses — events for those in particular life stages/demographics — outdoor gatherings (where possible)
— growth groups/midweek Bible studies
How well-equipped are your people for evangelism? Now is a wonderful time to encourage your congregation to be the ones doing the evangelistic work and preaching to their friends/families/colleagues/strangers themselves. Rather than bringing them to hear someone else preach, this is a fantastic opportunity to meet to read the Bible, answer questions, share resources with seekers as individuals or in small groups. Encourage your people to invite non-believers for meals with other christians and make those connections so they might feel comfortable to come to church at a later date (or even become a christian before they step foot in your church building!).
Church at home packages
Have you considered using your online content to draw in those who have not ever been to your church before?
You may have done plenty of letterbox drops to your local community before, but now you have an additional option for them: your online services! This could be that extra step someone needs to check out church without having to enter the building (yet!).
Consider putting together a package that stands out in a mail box. Something slightly bulkier or brighter, publications that are shaped differently to standard advertising in a mailbox, something a little 'extra' that grab the attention of the receiver.
You might consider including things like:
- a gift (e.g. a voucher to a local cafe, a fridge magnet, or a Christmas decoration)
- an information pamphlet about your church (including all upcoming events, what you believe, who you are, and how to access your online content!)
- a reply paid envelope for them to write back to you if they'd like to connect
Do your best to improve your online content and make sure you do what you can to engage with those who are watching. Encourage them to get in contact via technology or openly invite new people who are watching to join you for a small event or a one-to-one meeting.
More services on a Sunday
Finally, have you considered increasing the amount of services you have on a Sunday?
A lot of churches are currently using a booking in system to cap numbers due to government restrictions. This means that not only are our regulars sometimes missing out, but it means that any new or visiting people have an extra road block between them and hearing the Word of God preached. Having extra services allows more people to come on a Sunday and also allows for your regulars to invite and book in their friends/families/colleagues to come along.
It may be a lot of extra work and hands on deck, but would it open up your doors to the lost?
This is the perfect time for churches to help people feel connected again, including those who have never been connected to church before. This is hard work in our current climate, but our God is one is who is on about gathering. He gathers his people into his kingdom, his church, his family. Gather your community back together in small ways and make deep connections - it is still possible!
Make your church the place to be in your community. As people begin to get out more and have a bit more confidence - capitalise on this!
We'd love to hear of some of the ways you are engaging with your community right now. Let us know in the comments below or head on over to our Facebook page!