Top COVID-19 Ideas for Churches

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Top COVID-19 Ideas for Churches (Week 8)

1. Big Question of the Week: Church programs as we “phase” back to the new normal… Which programs need to move to your digital platform now that we know it will be some time before small and medium size groups will meet together (i.e. your membership and other core classes)?

2. HR info in a COVID environment – See OneDigital.com for tons of info.

3. Staff mental health ideas – Create a buddy system. Connect two staff together to check up on one another daily, text encouragement, have an online trivia contest with prizes against other staff teams.

4. CDC reopening guidelinesOpening America guidelines

5. Logistics to reopen your facility – check out these lists:

6. BEST webinar and resource on reopening your church that I’ve seenWatch part 7 (it should be up in a few days)

7. EPA approved cleaners

8. Communicating your church’s return plan (example)

9. Updating your church – here’s a good example from an elder board

10. Get the REAL numbers for your attendance – if you are using your online attendance to make decisions, you need to see the first speaker in this podcast.

11. Do a virtual night of worship, and include communion.

12. Consider a virtual VBS

13. Giving – move from HOW to give to WHY to give – Show how children’s ministry is still happening. Show how student ministry is still happening. Show how community service is still happening.

Top COVID-19 Ideas for Churches (Week 7)

1. Reopening the church (an early discussion) – check out this webinar for some ideas.

2. Reopening your church – a legal perspective webinar. Also a good example of logistic requirements. See their 4/23/2020 webinar. Bottom line… start preparing your church.

3. BIG QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Topic – going back to “normal” Sunday services. It looks like we will have phased requirements which include service spacing, no children or youth ministry, no coffee and donuts, no bathroom use, and more. What will be the minimum you will require to reopen your doors? (i.e. we have to open bathrooms, have to be able to sit in the auditorium in family units, have the nursery open, etc.)

4. Protocols for an Early Return – an example to start preparing

NOTE: PLEASE CHECK WITH YOUR STATE AND LOCAL GUIDELINES AND TIMING.

  • Team of doctors and nurses to screen for signs of COVID-19. Symptoms are shortness of breath, a dry hacking cough and a temperature above normal.
  • Equip teams with gloves, masks and non-contact thermometers. Have a secluded area for medical discussions.
  • Train ushers and greeters to gently ask the symptomatic to visit the on-site medical team.
  • Clean before, during and after the service – including counters, door knobs, wood or metallic seat parts and children’s toys.
  • Close coffee stations.
  • Hugs and handshakes are out.
  • Who is at-risk?
    • Those with underlying serious health conditions
    • Those over age 60
    • They should wait to return to on-site worship until the daily rate of infections is extremely low or nil.
  • Worship for at-risk
    • Give verbal and written “permission” to continue to live-stream.
    • Some may see it as a Christian responsibility to worship on-site.

5. Statement of the week: God is not limited by limitations!

6. Zoom fatigue is a real thing. Small group idea – keep the time to under an hour. Keep it relational vs. informational. For team or leader meetings, keep the agenda shorter.

7. HEY NEIGHBOR – One church’s example of how they are reaching out to their neighbors.

8. Caution! Make sure your financial controls and protocols are in place, even with work done from home. Scams are up 400%. Also, watch for signs of fraud. Check in with your staff and volunteers who are handling money. How are they doing?

  • The Fraud Triangle: Pressure, opportunity, rationalization. If a person is under a lot of pressure (at home or at work), if they see an opportunity, or if they can rationalize their behavior (i.e. I’m being paid less or my hours got cut)

9. THE BENEFITS OF CRISIS

  • Crisis reveals Character
  • Crisis reveals Weaknesses
  • Crisis reveals Opposition and Challenges
  • Crisis reveals Strong and Weak Team Members
  • Crisis creates Opportunity
    • For a quality upgrade
    • For staffing upgrades
    • For rapid acceleration
    • To spot tomorrow’s all-stars
    • For personal character development
    • To say thank you

10. Small Group Ideas

  • Mobile discipleship – Take new believers through Rooted online
  • Marco Polo app – Stay in touch with people in different time zones
  • Watch2Gether app – Watch a YouTube video as a group. You can all watch at the same time!
  • Create different kinds of internet-based remote groups (iGroups) – i.e. a group that watches Netflix movies together using Netflix Party.

11. Online devotion idea: Do men’s devotions on Mondays and Wednesdays and women’s on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Do a Facebook Live-type large group segment, then have links to Zoom rooms for discussion.

Top COVID-19 Ideas for Churches (Week 6)

1. Get insights from your congregation through digital Check-ins

2. How to have an “After Party following your services

3. Start preparing a plan on how to help your congregation deal with grief – with the loss of loved ones, jobs, graduations and other big life events. Check our this recent interview from Rick Warren.

4. Help your missionaries and partners overseas prepare for COVID-19 all in one placetransitioning your church to online church, caring for your congregation, sermons, and additional resources.

5. BIG QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK – Topic: Consumerism, loyalty, or kingdom movement?

  • Many of our congregants are watching and engaging in multiple church streaming services and programs each week. The idea of “this is my church” is being challenged. In what ways can we address this new reality?
  • If someone comes to Christ through your online services and lives out of town, will you try to connect them with a local church or “distance disciple” them and invite them to be a part of your church’s “mobile membership”?

6. Preaching to a camara tip of the week… JUST BE YOU!

7. Donut Ditch – At the beginning of your service, announce that you will be delivering boxes of donuts during the service. ask people to send in their name and address to your church’s main email address. Pick 2-5 names and go deliver them donuts halfway through the service. As you deliever them, video the people coming out of their houses and celebrating. Then show the videos at the end of the service.

8. When will we be able to start services? If you haven’t seen these yet, check out California’s new 6 indicators for modifying the stay-at-home order and the president’s recent Opening up America. You’ll also see how the government is changing in some significant ways.

9. WATCH FOR SCAMS – There is a new wave of text, email and robo call scams.

10. Mask Ministry – It looks like we will be asked to wear face masks for the foreseeable future. Start a new ministry team that makes them for your congregation and community, especially for those who are resource-challenged. Consider giving them out to those coming to your food pantry.

Top COVID-19 Ideas for Churches (Week 5)

1. Kick up your video stream: Consider using the free template from https://churchonlineplatform.com/ and Boxcast.com

2. During services, try this meet and greet via text. Text a friend or two. Put up a 3-minute countdown timer on the screen and play some soft music. Take it up a notch by doing a family selfie and text it to a few friends.

3. Kid’s ministry ideas

  • Story time each weekday on Zoom
  • Deliver an Easter basket to each family with kids – doorbell ditch idea

4. On Facebook, “share” what you are watching and create a Watch Party.

5. Create easy-to-remember-and-use response email addresses:

6. BIG QUESTION TO ASK: Online is your new campus with more people engaging than ever before. Is your mindset now to just get them back to your campus and go back to “normal” or is it time to include both online and live audiences as the “new normal”? Are you ready to risk doing your membership class or other core classes online?

7. High School idea: Minecraft Taco Bell night

8. Questions to ask young adults – Simple questions, open-ended, and please remember not to feel uncomfortable with silence:

  • How are you feeling? (Even on a daily basis – good days and bad days?)
  • What are your hopes for the future? (Are you hopeful for your future?)
  • How have you been praying? (Implied: Have you been praying?)
  • What are you most worried about?
  • How do you see your generation in the greater kingdom narrative?
  • How has this global pandemic changed your worldview?
  • What do you think the world will be like after?
  • Where do you see God in all this?

9. JOB IDEA: Put on a virtual job fair, including resume training. Create a Monday Meet Up for those looking to fill positions and those looking for a job.

10. Move into Phase 2 of the crisis: This includes a major focus on discipleship and ministry in light of the new reality. This includes creating a 60-day plan including:

  • A new organization chart (include paid and volunteer staff) based on the new priorities – i.e. Senior Pastor, Streaming Director (Do you have one?), Media/Communications Director, etc.
  • Move as many ministries as possible to an online format. You will have to get creative.
  • Create a revised budget – i.e. move funds normally spent on Sunday services to online streaming equipment and services.
  • Focus on discipling in an online streaming format – i.e. membership and other core classes online, new believer follow-up zoom calls, create small group leader training events online, consider using online small group curriculum from RightNow Media.
  • Clarify how your church is meeting the needs in your community. Focus on 2-3 and do them as well as you possibly can, using as much creativity as you can.
  • Create new weekly metrics to help track – i.e. start measuring engagement touches: number of people called and connected with this week, number of people on Sunday morning chats, follow-ups with new believers, number of online prayer requests.
  • Tell stories, tell stories, tell stories, tell stories.

11. Staff connection idea: Have a “321” with your staff – each Monday share 3 things you’re working on, 2 things going on personally, and 1 work goal you’re trying to knock out for the week. THEN at the staff meeting take some time to ask about each other’s 321s.

12. Collaborative digital tool ideas:

  • KEY – PICK YOUR TOOLS AND EVERYONE USE THEM WELL. Commit to them. Everyone learns them.
  • Slack – internal communication email replacement. It has individual and channel (team/group) options, availability status, and more.
  • Google docs
  • Trello – group project manager
  • Soapbox by Wistia – video self-recordings to share with others

13. Easter Ideas

  • People will be logging on early. So tell stories – video stories of ministry, small group stories…
  • Post-service video trailer with things coming up
  • After party following each service lasting 30 minutes
    • Have a ice breaker, a host telling about the vision of the church and how people can join a small group, take prayer requests
    • Use multiple Zoom links so groups are smaller (maybe based on locale) to have a discussion with the host for 30 minutes.
  • Stories
    • Based on vision
    • Connect ministry and generosity
  • Round up button – apparently you can contact your credit card company and have all general charges get rounded to the nearest dollar. Designate it to your church. Use the funds for benevolence. Start telling stories of use. GREAT FOR 1ST TIME GIVERS.
  • Follow-up sermon series idea – “Is this the end of the world?” or “We’re all in this together.” THEN follow that up with a faith basics class or a “New Beginnings” class.

Top COVID-19 Ideas for Churches (Week 4)

1. Payroll Protection Plan – Churches can apply. Get the latest info here.

2. We streamed our first service live (worship at church and sermon via Zoom), rebroadcasted it for second service, and had a “Zoom Cafe” in between services!

3. Financial Questions your elder board needs to be able to answer

4. Sick pay reimbursements available from the Federal Government

5. Facebook Premiere – an optional way to stream recorded media

6. Create “How are you doing?” interviews to share

7. Qnnection App – great questions to inspire conversation

8. Offering Idea – consider taking it BEFORE the message. Many people “leave church early” even online.

9. Unemployment may be available to pastors and church staff who do not pay into it.

10. Leading in a Crisis from Vanderbloemen.com. These points were repeated in numerous webinars this week.

Top COVID-19 Ideas for Churches (Week 3)

1. Are there resources for what to tell the congregation if someone tests positive?

David Fletcher xpastor.org: There are several considerations. Is the person a staff member or a congregant? First, I wouldn’t include any names in communication—due to patient privacy issues. If a staff member, I lean toward letting the congregation know in a gentle way. You don’t want them to be nervous, any more than they are, but they can pray, give and give support in food items. It’s not like the congregation is currently at risk. Of course, anyone who came in contact with the person, or spouse, should be alerted immediately.

2. Online service tip – As people meet in homes there are family distractions and a shorter attention span than when you meet live – so we are teaching for 20 to 25 minutes and then have an interactive Q & A time with four questions that we put out for people to discuss together

3. How do you estimate the number of people watching online?

What you are really doing is taking an educated guess. If you have more singles in your congregation, you can multiply your IP address numbers (views) by 1.5. If you have more couples who are watching together, perhaps with a child or two, you can multiply by 2 (or possibly 2.5 or more if you have lots of home school families who will watch the broadcast together). LifeChurch.TV calculates a view as: a unique IP address that is connected for at least 10 minutes X 2.6 people per screen.

4. CARES Act info – EVERY CHURCH SHOULD VIEW THIS

5. Bible Study and Small Group material – Rightnow Media is offering a free limited access membership during the COVID-19 period.

6. Simple Zoom tutorial HOW TO USE ZOOM | Video Conferencing Tutorial for Beginners

7. For Small Groups

Zoom video conferencing is great. I think it’s the best because their Gallery View allows you to see up to 49 participants on the same screen rather than just 4-6 active people. Zoom Basic is great because it’s free and works really well. But it kicks the meeting off at 40 minutes. You can upgrade to $18 per month for no limits on time. Zoom has a non-profit pricing of $75 per year through TechSoup, but TechSoup requires organizations to be 501c3s – and many churches incorporate as religious corps so they don’t qualify.

I found a reseller of Zoom service called RingCentral that is willing to sell to non-profits for $7.50 per user per month without a contract. So I have shifted 50 small groups to RingCentral this past week and it’s working great. Below are the contacts someone could use to get the non-profit $7.50 price:

Below are two videos I made: 1) for small group leaders setting up to host, and 2) for small group members setting up to participate.

Small Group Leader Setup Instructions – video of instructions to help you set up your RingCentral account so that you can host meetings using it.

For your small group members – feel free to forward this to them.

Draft email is below:

This week we will meet together digitally. It’s not quite the same as meeting in person, but I think it will work well considering our circumstances! I would suggest that you set up the RingCentral app ahead of time and test it. If you would like to have a test call with me, just let me know. I suggest using a laptop or desktop if you have one with a camera and microphone. If you don’t, you can also use your iPhone or Android phone.

Here’s a short video walking you through the setup and use of RingCentral for the first time: http://www.villagebible.church/smallgroup To connect, you will click on this link: [YOUR RINGCENTRAL LINK] (see the leader instruction video for details). The first time you do that, you will be asked to install the app. Once that’s done, come back to this email and click on the link again. Next, you will be asked if you want to connect using your computer’s audio. You want to answer “Yes” to that question.

8. How do we balance the Giving Conversation (church need vs current reality) with our church?

Great words to help you script your communication

9. Create open virtual gatherings (using Zoom) to host prayer and conversation. Use Zoom breakout rooms to connect people.

10. Collect older computers, phones and tablet devices for those who don’t have a way to connect online. Prep them for use, include instructions and a tech person to call to help them get online.

11. Easter Idea – Start video recordings of conversion stories and post them as part of your Easter plans. Show in the days before and as part of the service.

12. Micro church podcast – https://exponential.org/microchurches-positioned-pandemic/

13. Good Neighbor Bingo: (Be creative and modify it for your church!)

14. The 4 Phases churches need to move through in this crisis – https://stetzerleadershippodcast.com/resources

  • Phase 1: Pause and Innovate
  • Phase 2: Prepare and Plan
  • Phase 3: Engage and Execute
  • Phase 4: Recover and Reemerge

90-day planning help – Working through the 4 Phases. The coaching groups will meet for six consecutive weeks starting April 3.

Top COVID-19 Ideas for Churches (Week 2)

1. Offering – use your database to determine givers that use cash and checks and mail them 8 prepaid envelopes and an encouraging letter.

2. Elders – read Psalm 91 each day and share what God is saying to you.

3. Statements heard this week:

  • The churches that survive and thrive will be the ones that engage their people and community
  • Crisis breeds creativity

4. Morale/engagement idea – Family Dance Challenge – have people dance to a common upbeat song and video a clip. Send it to the church. Compile a bunch of mini clips and show it during your Sunday service.

5. Create a new invite to your online services that your congregation can send to friends.

6. Start “Zoom Café” meetings. Call a friend for coffee and meet over Facetime or Zoom.

7. Start a Zoom Café with specific “hour(s)” your café is open. Give out the link on Instagram/Facebook and have people drop in be part of the conversation, prayer, other.

8. Plan on small groups going through the summer to maintain the connections and community

9. How can you activate people who normally travel and have hesitated being a small group leader to step up now that Zoom-type small groups are the norm?

10. Use your database to identify those over 70 and form a team of callers to phone them. Each person commits to call the same group of people each week and start new relationships.

11. Leadership book recommendation – Boundaries for Leaders

12. Tips on how to handle possible layoffs.

  • How you communicate is key – face to face it best, even via zoom.
  • Start the conversation early. Let the staff know that this may be a possibility down the road.
  • Have the conversation, don’t put it off, if needed.
  • Share as much information as possible.
  • Share how difficult the decision is for you. Have compassion and empathy.
  • Is there a way to help them in the transition? (money, job leads, other)
  • Stay connected with them after the layoff.

More ideas…

Digital Engagement

  • Weekly video update from Senior Pastor
  • Mail out a “7 things you can do” postcard to every household (to put on refrigerator)
  • Launch a COVID-19 webpage for the latest updates from the church
  • Post a daily Lent devotional
  • Launch a weekly guided prayer chat event
  • Use the Church Online platform for worship services which allows for live chat and live prayer rooms

Community Service

  • Partner with Meals on Wheels and a local food bank to serve as a key drop-off site for non-perishable goods; recruited drivers to make deliveries
  • Drop off flyers in neighborhoods for people to leave food on their porch and we’ll pick up on Saturday
  • Connect with public school system to see how we can support meal distribution

Care/Prayer

  • Make proactive outcalls to everyone age 70+ in the congregation
  • Ask who in the congregation needs food delivery
  • Prepare our staff and Elders to assist with heightened prayer needs
  • Ask all serving team leaders to reach out to serving team members
  • Re-assess our “congregation help” financial policy (do we expand the allowable amount and/or expand to broader audience?)

Small Groups

  • Ask all open small groups to go virtual; will be advertising the virtual groups
  • Provide small group leaders with ideas for connecting with group members
  • Launch multiple new virtual small groups post Easter to reach newcomers

Assimilation/Connection

  • Develop a new experience for those guests who text us
  • Develop a virtual version of our “First Step” experience for guests/those newer to the church

Staff

  • Ensure we pay hourly workers’ budgeted hours to alleviate any financial hardship
  • Re-direct staff who facilitate weekly programs to other areas (local outreach, online services, care/prayer, communications, etc.)

Children’s Ministry

  • Create a blog with lessons, activities and videos for families to do right after the online services

Student Ministry

  • Continue weekly program (worship and message) virtually
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