COVID-19 has been a severe disrupter of activities and the status quo. Never in modern history has a crisis caused the cancelation of a majority of gatherings, social, economic, and everything in between.
Organizations have adjusted their normal operations and procedures out of circumstances as part of the collaborative effort to avert the spread of the COVID-19 virus. We also have not been left behind in making necessary adjustments to keep our people safe. For instance, I am making this note from my home office.
However, there is no better demonstration of the seriousness of the threat than the changes the church has been forced to undergo.
Churches have reduced or stopped spiritual gatherings, adhering to evolving government directives. 1 Peter 2:13-17 underscores the role of believers in heeding to their civic duties. Most importantly, however, churches are helping combat the spread of this virus, which thrives in crowds.
The average church holds tens or hundreds of people, which makes it risky for congregants to contract the virus. The church is a community from which millions of people derive hope, encouragement. It is through the church that most people receive much needed spiritual nourishment and Godly teaching.
To have the church suspend its services can, therefore, be considered the biggest sacrifice of this institution, something unthinkable in modern history
At-risk amid this pandemic is the spiritual and social role of the church in our society. How does the church continue spreading the good news to believers? How does the church continue receiving donations and tithes from the faithful and the much-needed offering for supporting families that have been most affected by the outcomes of the pandemic?
How does the church keep its members enlightened not only about the COVID-19 but also on essential tips such as overcoming depression that may arise out of this crisis?
These are challenging questions because they touch both on emerging issues that necessitate the church in Kenya to adapt to the evolving needs of believers and the core role of the church in our society.
What can the church do?
This crisis can be a turning point for churches in the country to rethink how they approach their activities and their role in society.
That said, we believe the church can play an extra character in averting the damage of the COVID crisis in several ways.
1. Keeping people informed
The list of items the church can inform believers is borderline endless, from safety tips to prayer guidance, sermons (through text), emerging issues, church-focused announcements, postponements, and much more.
2. Sharing devotions
That the government has discouraged physical gatherings does not mean the end of preaching and encouragement for believers. On the contrary, most believers need the church the most at this time. Depression and mental health challenges are anticipated to increase in the coming weeks as one of the devastations of the virus. It is incumbent upon the church to take the forefront in countering such challenges.
3. Building stronger communities
When life gets back to normal after we overcome the COVID-19 pandemic, where will your church be? Church leaders can be carried away by the current crisis that they may forget that life will get back to normal, and so will church operations. Every pastor desires that when church gatherings resume in normalcy, believers will be energetic and will have more reasons to thank God and worship Him the more.
However, leaders must maintain close communication with members amid the crisis as part of showing them ‘we are together in this’ and ‘I am always thinking about.’
4. Spreading the Gospel
Matthew 24:35 reminds us, ‘Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.’ The time is always right to spread the Gospel and win more souls to the Kingdom of God.
Most churches have found a way around this. For instance, hundreds of churches are already streaming their services on social media platforms, including Facebook.
While not all churches might be able to set up the infrastructure necessary to conducting live services, there are other avenues for spreading the Gospel, such as daily and weekly devotions in text. It is also feasible to share the good news through articles and blogs.
How can the church do this?
We believe God gave us the technology so that it would help us in doing his work. The church can take these four technologies to take its ministry work to the next stage.
1. Social media
Have a social media page where you share news, updates, and tips. Over 30 million Kenyans are on the internet and social media. A billion others are on social media outside the country. The church can touch these people and have an impact on them through social media.
Quite some churches have had sites in the past, and some are taking advantage of this crisis. They have been using these websites as the primary digital media in the tech tools. It can also be a useful tool for keeping people informed about notifications and events.
If used properly, a church website can be a useful tool for keep archives for all recorded sermons and blog articles. Sometimes, it may not be possible to share long, structured devotions through SMS.
This is perhaps the most basic and reliable tool for communicating with church members. Not only can the church send tips and updates to members through SMS, but they can also share short devotions and encouraging verses through short messages.
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The church can also share personalized messages to church members by using emails. This is important, especially where the church wants to send personal devotions, either daily or weekly.
There has never been a better time for the church to establish a competent and reliable means of communication with church members and other believers. A two-way means of communication will help the church in posting essential messages to members and announcements and allowing them to send prayer requests and give feedback.
These ways, the reduction of public gatherings by churches around the world will not affect the relationship churches have with members. Having the right tools can also see the church receive remote giving and tithes from the people.