In my first pastorate, I received a phone call one night after revival services. The phone call was letting me know that a church member’s loved one had passed away. It was after 8pm in the evening when I learned the news. I wanted to get in touch with the family, but I was not sure how late was too late to go to their home. The visiting preacher gave me advice that night I have never forgotten, or stopped following. He said, “Make the most personal contact possible.” So, I got in the truck and drove to their house. They gladly received me and were grateful I took the time to come to them.
Pastors and ministry leaders are being thrust into somewhat uncharted territory in the current ministry context. No corporate gatherings. Limited small group gatherings. Yet, the Body of Christ must still be shepherded. The church needs to be connected, encouraged and discipled.
Without doubt, ministry will have to move to more technology and online platforms. Small groups can gather on a Zoom call. They can interact and do most of what they would have done in person. Worship services will be viewed via LIVESTREAM services. Tithes and offerings can be given and received online, via text to give or even by mailed checks. WHATS App, GroupMe , Band and old fashioned email can help push & receive information. This is a great time for social media to include the social aspect of interaction.
Embrace technology. Don’t get overwhelmed trying to use every possible platform. Pick a platform for worship services. Pick a platform for groups. Pick a platform for static information sharing. Then do your best using what you choose.
Just don’t forsake the good ole “shoe leather” of making phone calls. In the current context, this will be the most personal contact possible. Texting is quick and has a place as follow up to a phone call. You do not have to make every call yourself. I can hear some now, “I don’t have time to call everyone.” Break the list into smaller lists and do for one (at a time) what you wish you could do for all.
This is also a great opportunity to involve others in ministry. Divide your list into smaller, manageable lists (ie, 10-12 households). Recruit enough helpers to join you in taking a list and making the calls. You figure out the list size, expectations for the callers and the rhythm that works for your ministry context.
These personal phone calls are a great opportunity to keep persons connected. You hear their voice. They hear your voice. You share stories of what’s happening in each other’s lives. Ask if they have any needs you or the church can help serve. There will be much pastoral ministry that happens on the call, even if the call is only a couple of minutes. There will also be outreach and community ministry that is uncovered through these conversations as you hear from people about their neighbors’ needs.
We can do this. We must do this. When we find a new normal down the road in a few months, relationships will still be priority. Connection to the Body of Christ will still be imperative. Let’s do now what we will be glad then we did.