In this Easter Season, it’s good for us to pause and reflect on the fact that Jesus did not come to be served but to serve. As Christ-followers, we are called to imitate this – both wisely and efficiently and not as spineless, people-pleasers, pushed and pulled by every need we see.
Now (and always), Deacons exist to act as conduits through which God blesses others. At the same time, Deacons are called to equip and mobilize their congregations to bless and serve others. In very practical terms what does this mean as COVID-19 continues to spread?
Here is our ‘Top 10 Ways Deacons Can Help During COVID-19’
(Most of these resources are on our website!)
- Update your church’s website. (Or ask the appropriate person to do this with/for you!) Inform people on what’s changed at your church and reassure them that you are still actively caring for your congregation and your community. Here is one church’s website and here is another. Oh, and one more! Some church’s websites and/or newsletters have a designated “Deacon’s Corner” where updated information is shared – offering schedules/ways to give, community partners, supported ministries, etc.
- Don’t forget to include how people can request and/or offer help. Highlight your online or printable forms and/or a contact person somewhere on your website’s homepage.
- Don’t Go It Alone Deacons! Deacons are called to equip and mobilize their congregations to bless and serve others. Send out a Gifts & Abilities Survey asking members when, where, and how they can help out. (This can be used in the future too!) Here a simple form you can use (get the PDF or edit in Google Docs.)
- Set Up Alternative Ways to Give for Your Membership. As we can’t physically ‘pass the plate’ right now, we need to create opportunities for people to contribute financially to your church and the ministries it supports. Here’s a resource we put together to help you!
- Don’t forget to share this with your church regularly so they are encouraged to keep giving if and when they are able. Include ‘offline’ ways to give as well and ask volunteers to pick up donations if needed.
- Connect With Your Community and Offer Assistance! Ask your deacons and church members to deliver fliers in their own neighbourhoods, offering assistance to those in need. Here’s a great example of a Connection Card.
- Set Up a Buddy System! Pair people who are isolated (especially the elderly and those with mobility issues) with people who are able to stay in touch. Make daily contact, via phone, email, text, video chat or all of the above. One church has asked their High School Youth Group to be a buddy as many have a bit more free time right now.
- Buddies can try this “Tabletop Simulator” to play classic board games virtually!
- Don’t forget that not everyone has access to the internet!
- Spread Love Wherever You Can – However You Can! Lead by example and encourage church members to show and share Christ’s love All. The. Time.
- Watch our previous webinar How Your Church Can Help During COVID-19 (held March 28), posted on our COVID-19 Resource page (see right-hand side).
- Attend this upcoming webinar from The Chalmers Centre in the USA, “Innovating in a Crisis”, happening Tuesday, April 21, 2020, at 11am EDT.
- Other Ideas:
- put up pictures or phrases in your front windows,
- create sidewalk chalk messages,
- leave flowers at a neighbour’s front door,
- pick up garbage during your daily walk,
- thank a garbage man or frontline worker or politician or grocery store clerk,
- email an electronic gift card to someone ‘just because’,
- go prayerwalking (here’s a great resource)
- Coordinate ‘Shopping Runs’ and/or Food Delivery for shut-ins, vulnerable persons, single parents, those without transportation, etc. This also gives deacons and volunteers a chance to ‘check in’ with isolated members of the congregation.
- Help to Relieve Loneliness, Anxiety and the Extra Stress that is a part of this challenging time while practicing ‘social-distancing’ and being careful. This may require some creative thinking.
- Watch and share a recent webinar hosted by Diaconal Ministries & World Renew Canada called Mental & Emotional Health During COVID-19.
- Read and implement our handout, Supporting People with Mental Illness, based on the Mental Health First Aid Course offered by the Canadian Mental health Association.
- Put together “Care Packages” and brighten someone’s day!
- Keep Doing Benevolence in New and Creative Ways!
- Read our Benevolence During COVID-19 handout for tips and points to ponder.
- Read up on Canada’s Economic Plan so you can make people aware of what assistance is available through our government. (Most municipalities and provinces have also drafted economic plans as well.)
- Don’t forget that requests may not be coming in yet but the full economic effects are yet to come for many in our communities.
- Pool your resources and set up a classis-wide Benevolence or Diaconal Fund so wealthier churches can help churches with greater needs (especially for those hit the hardest in your region).
- Don’t Stop Meeting as a Diaconate! Some teams and organizations are meeting more now than ever! Use technology where possible or set up a conference call. We’ve put together a quick Virtual Meeting How-To sheet.