Churches are on the front lines of the global COVID-19 crisis, and yet many are struggling due to canceled services and reduced offerings.
This is a time for the Church to rise up and be the Church. But how, practically, can you do this when the economy is slowing, church members cannot attend and the needs are greater than ever before?
Pastor, the time to be on your knees is never greater. The Lord owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and He will provide. That doesn’t mean, however, that there aren’t practical steps you should take during this season.
- Aggressively manage costs. It has been our experience through the years that small costs can slip into the budget for good things that aren’t the main thing. Now is the time to take your sharpest pair of scissors and cut all but the essentials. Some of the cuts may be for good things or things you can bring back when the situation returns to normal, but for now, focus on only the essentials of ministry. Perhaps you can delay some payments or renegotiate contracts. Many companies are willing to renegotiate contracts, but the onus is on you to reach out.
- Establish a coronavirus budget. It may not be possible to cut every expense, but it may be possible to delay expenses or redeploy budget from nice-to to need-to. Work with your staff, deacons, committees and other leadership to identify expenditures that can be delayed, reallocated or otherwise adjusted.
- Communicate the need. One of the most amazing stories in Scripture is in Exodus 36 as the refugee people of Israel were building the tabernacle. In verses 4–5, the craftsmen came to Moses and said they had “much more than enough for the service of the work which the Lord commanded us to do.” So in verse 6 they sent out a command to stop giving, and in verse 7 Scripture records, “for the material they had was sufficient for all the work to be done — indeed too much.” The people of Israel heard the need and they responded. Convey the need in your church and community and how your church is responding. Record a video message on your phone or computer and post it on social media. Outline the need and implore your people to be faithful.
- Make it easy to give. Remind your people of all the ways they can give. Is mailing an offering to the church still an option? Make sure your people know that. If online giving is an option, encourage that. If it’s not, our colleagues at LifeWay Generosity can get your church set up quickly to receive online giving.
- Remember He is faithful. The Church has survived numerous pandemics, economic crises, recessions, depressions, wars both global and regional, and many other challenges large and small. This current trial is a challenge, but by the Lord’s leading, the Church will survive this challenge. We have the opportunity to be His hands and His feet during these days, and He will be faithful to provide for the needs of His people. Now is the time for all of us to rise to the occasion and lead with compassion and passion.
There is a little phrase that can be found on most every page in the Bible: “And it came to pass.” This, too, shall pass in time. Pastor, use these days to lean on the Lord, lead with clarity and confidence and rest in the promise that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble. . . . Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46).