5 Questions Church Leaders Need to Ask During COVID
Do any of the following statements describe an experience you’ve had over the last month?
- Though the new year has begun, you’re still dealing with many of the same ministry challenges that started in 2020.
- Your leaders and staff are struggling to maintain quality connections with those they lead.
- The decision-making process (personally or corporately as a church staff) makes you feel weary and unsure of what to do next.
If you can relate to any of the above, take heart, my friend. You are not alone. If you CAN’T relate to any of these, please call me because I’d like to know your secret! Many of us are wrestling with ways to minister to families during the pandemic effectively—either in person or online. Depending on your context and location, you may have done one much more than the other. Perhaps your church has been virtual for an extended time, or maybe several families in your ministry have chosen to only participate through online connections. When faced with these situations, ask yourself the following 5 questions to consider how you can serve families during COVID.
How has the rhythm of the households you serve changed?
In college, my speech professor frequently reminded us of the first rule in public speaking: Know your audience. As a pastor, I’ve thought about his words often throughout my ministry. This principle proves helpful as we consider the ways family rhythms and daily patterns have been disrupted over the last year. Take time to check in with families and see how schedules, responsibilities, and communication patterns have changed in the last few months.
Reflect upon your schedule and rhythms. I imagine your “workday” looks much different today compared to a year ago. By becoming aware of these changes, you become more understanding of those you serve, and you can discern what is needed most (more on this below). This intentional outreach strengthens your connection with families. By clearly and consistently communicating with them, you can learn what needs exist and gain the opportunity to serve families around you.
Action Step: Champion grace and flexibility.
This step requires great patience. When circumstances change from week to week and month to month, we all need more grace and flexibility from those around us.
What are the greatest needs/pains of families right now?
M2P Founder Jeremy Lee often tells the story of his professor who embraced this helpful definition of ministry: A willingness to find a need and meet it, or find a pain and heal it. As you connect with families, what needs do you observe among those in your community? Are there particular pain points (frustrations, struggles, or concerns) that you notice in your students and their parents?
Sometimes families can be good at pretending. As Lysa Terkeurst describes in this article, there’s a real danger when we try to act like we’ve got it all together on the outside while wrestling in anguish on the inside. By taking a fresh look at the needs of households in your community, you might discover new opportunities to minister. That insight could be the catalyst to a new relationship with a student or parent at a time when it’s needed most.
Action step: Keep your eyes and ears open for families to express struggles or frustrations in their lives.
This step requires a willingness to seek out those who are hurting and ask appropriate follow-up questions. Ask school administrators and teachers what they see and hear from families in their school. They may have a lead on ways to help households not active in the church.
What are the strengths of your church?
You have likely wrestled with this question over the last year more so than any other season in your ministry. If adversity builds or reveals a person’s character, a pandemic can purify a church’s methods. When the domino effect of COVID and quarantines first began last spring, many churches had to simplify their methods to take the message of Jesus to their community faithfully.
For some, this involved honest discussions over questions like the following:
- What is our immediate ministry context?
- What does our church do well?
- In what areas are we struggling as a church?
- Does our ministry team have a clear understanding of our mission?
- How must we adapt our methods to continue to share the message of Jesus during these uncertain times?
Navigating questions like these has helped ministry teams identify ways to funnel efforts and resources towards the areas where their church is strongest.
This also enables churches to let go of methods or efforts that compromise their focus and overall effectiveness.
Action step: Trim the fat and simplify schedules and primary ministry objectives as much as possible.
Don’t compromise your effectiveness by constantly comparing your church to others. Identify the resources and methods that are essential to fulfilling your church’s mission.
What opportunities am I overlooking?
This question invites you to channel your personal and organizational creativity. Perhaps this pandemic has provided you a new pathway to fulfill your mission. Specifically, are there immediate needs or opportunities that you have previously dismissed but know are present in your community? This isn’t an attempt to complicate your methods or spin your tires in futility. Instead, this is an invitation for you and your ministry team to consider new, fun, and insightful strategies as a timely answer for the households you serve.
Is there an idea you’ve had but never tried because your weekly responsibilities hindered you from exploring it further?
Action step: Lean on the creative members of your team.
Identify the questions and interests that currently have the attention of your parents and students. Using the skills and resources at your disposal, allow yourself the freedom to run toward a door that God may be opening for such a time as this.
How can I bring light into households?
Parents and teens alike battle discouragement and disappointment on a regular basis. Families are tired, overwhelmed, and unsure of what the future holds. Throughout 2021, how can your church continue to be a voice of inspiration and encouragement?
This question is not geared to superficial optimism or hope in hope itself. Instead, may we be what Jesus described in Matthew 7:14-15:
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.”
Households are bombarded with darkness, heartache, and loss each week. Let’s bring light and joy to those families. As you are faithful to display and declare the truth of God’s Word, be sure to have fun along the way. Families need to laugh. Some parents need help finding ways to enjoy time with their children when options and resources are limited. Offer resources and support. As you show families the way, parents and kids alike will begin to understand the source of our hope.
Action step: Bring the fun. Share ideas that help families laugh together.
Check out the Games in our M2P Parent Toolbox to get started. Host a Family Game Night online and invite families to compete together. Don’t forget to celebrate family victories. Sharing everyday examples of ways families have persevered helps others know they can do the same.
One of my wife’s favorite verses from Proverbs 31, which describes the wife of noble character, is verse 25:
“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.”
The uncertainty of the future, combined with the darkness we’ve experienced in recent days, has produced crippling fear for some families. But for households of faith, the Bible says we can laugh at the days to come. By trusting The One who reigns over the whole world, we know we won’t face the journey ahead alone. As you serve families this year, may you also be clothed with the strength, dignity, and unshakeable joy only found in those who walk closely with Jesus.
Nick Mobley has served in student ministry for 20 years and currently serves as Family Pastor at Northside Baptist in middle TN. His passion is helping families show and share their faith from house to house. He and his wife Courtney have 3 children, Samuel, Sophia, & Asa. They love ice cream, the outdoors, and think that Dauphin Island, Alabama, is one of the coolest places to spend a vacation.
For other COVID resources, check out:
#023: How to Adapt Your Curriculum into a Virtual Ministry during COVID
#022: How to Virtually Care for Volunteers during COVID
How to Talk to Your Kids about Fears & the Coronavirus
10 Facts About Adolescence (How to Help Parents Survive the At-Home Quarantine)
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