To: Pastors & Leaders in MBA Churches
From: Dr. Bob Lowman, Executive Director, MBA
The news about the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic is hitting very close to your church these days. The big question is “How should we respond as a church in our community?” Metrolina Baptist Association is here to work with our family of churches through these days in Jesus’ name.
Here are 3 significant comments to start this information:
1. While this outbreak may occur over 2+ months, our approach as an association in dealing with it is going to be week to week. You may ask, Why? Because since Jesus said that we were to “take one day at a time, each day has enough trouble of its own” we do not need to take an extended period of time and assume all will be bad in that time. Wisdom says take one step at a time. So we are encouraging our churches to evaluate this situation each week with wisdom and prayer, and act accordingly.
2. As we listen to the authorities about how to deal with this situation, remember to focus on what God is saying to you in these times. It may be that this season is one that He will use to impact neighbors and neighborhoods in dramatic ways for His glory. Be alert to how He is leading and depend on Him day by day for direction, protection, provision, and life.
3. The NC Governor’s order at this point is for no more than 100 people to gather, which impacts a significant number of our churches. The CDC this weekend recommended groups of 50 or more not gather. Our recommendation, while it is to follow these instructions, is also to be creative in how we gather together in the coming days. Home groups are a definite option, so long as we are careful in the process.
Now, here are a few practical suggestions to consider:
1. Implement the practices that the CDC has recommended. You can find them here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/index.html
2. Wash your hands regularly and stay home if you feel sick or have a fever. If you’re meeting with others, don’t shake hands, cough or sneeze into your elbow, and be careful. Think about others more than you think about yourself (sounds biblical, doesn’t it?)
3. Think through how you will do ministry during this time, and revisit your thoughts and plans regularly. For instance, the way you minister to your senior adults and those with compromised health is very important. You don’t want to be the one that carries the virus to them and yet you need to find a way to be there for them. How will you minister to those who are quarantined as a result of the virus? What about Care Packages left at the front door? Are there ways to care for the medical staff at the hospitals, clinics and nursing homes?
4. Stay in touch by phone with the leaders and members of your church, especially since you may not be seeing one another in person as often as usual. Maintain communication and care. Pray with one another often, by phone, facetime, etc.
5. Develop a way to provide online ministry and worship services. Investigate Facebook Live or some other free online streaming service for your worship services beginning now for those who choose to stay home and later for the potential loss of public services for the weeks in a declared public quarantine.
6. What about the economic stress this is having and will have in the days ahead as people can’t work? How can your church provide ministry to those who will be in need in much greater numbers than you are currently ministering to? Especially in your own congregation?
7. What about the church budget? How will it be affected by lower attendance? How can you accommodate the giving practices of your members? You might look into online giving or through their online banking and make sure your church is prepared to receive tithes and gifts that way.
8. How will you encourage your people to pray for God’s intervention concerning this pandemic and how will you provide Hope to the community through the sharing of the Gospel in the community as unchurched people start seeking answers and looking for hope?
9. Finally, what if this situation is the opportunity God is preparing for us to really be able to minister to our neighbors, to those who live near you? Since the instructions are to not meet in large groups (more than 100), why not invite your neighbors to join together for a prayer time, or a Bible study, or simply a discussion time on ways to help one another and those around you? Here’s a big what if: What if this health crisis leads to the start of hundreds of neighborhood fellowships that help us fulfill the Great Commandment and Great Commission in dramatic ways in the coming days?
Pray through these things and seek Gods’ guidance about how He wants us to lead our people during these trying times.
VIDEO PRODUCTION AND LIVE STREAMING POSSIBILITIES:
We are working with partners in the region to provide advice and information on producing videos for our churches to use when meeting remotely on Sundays, as well as live video assistance (Facebook Live, etc.).
Our plan is to have a team here to help us record video in the coming days, so if your church would like to use this resource, coming to the Great Commission Center to do a recording, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can also work on having a video technician come to your church to help you record there – email about that possibility too.
FOR THE GREAT COMMISSION CENTER:
1. At this point we are planning to maintain office hours, but are revisiting that decision regularly, based on current events and public advisories. Our office hours are Monday-Thursday, 9 am to 5 pm.
2. Churches will not be meeting at the Great Commission Center for worship on Sundays through the end of March, and we will be reviewing that decision weekly as we move ahead.
We will continue to monitor the situation and encourage churches to make wise choices in terms of gathering from week to week. And, if the situation changes, we will be ready to adjust accordingly. Contact me by email: email@example.com