Today, we are some 5 months into the COVID pandemic. Guilt and shame will tell you – sometimes shout – that if you haven’t done anything through your church or business to help people, then you’ve missed the boat. You’re too late and you missed the meeting, you missed the game. Some might even argue that there’s nothing left to do but ride things out till they return to “normal.”
But I have to tell you, it doesn’t feel that way to me.
Yes, my nonprofit and home church has changed (our strategies, not our mission). Our offices are still not fully operational and everyone continues to take extra precautions. Fundraising is more difficult as is meeting new people, placing folks into jobs, expanding our networks, deepening our collaborations, etc.
I say all this because it honors the present reality. We’ve all been busy making some significant changes to get this far. I could be crazy, but I don’t think I’m the only one with an inside voice telling me, “you need to do more, you haven’t done enough, you’ve missed the opportunity, you need to pack it up.”
Sometimes you think you’re late, but it turns out you are right on time. And the further we get into the pandemic – the more on time I feel. The more ready I am to really respond.
When I was younger I was obsessed with the idea that I was late. That somehow going to graduate school at age 27 was too old. That too much time had passed to change careers from business to ministry. That I was a laggard for getting married at 29 and for not having kids till I was 31.
Too late to start exercising. Too late to publish my thoughts. Too late to start a nonprofit. Too late to respond to COVID-19.
But guess what, I wasn’t too late to do any of those things. I can’t really imagine them happening any other way. What I’ve realized is that nobody really cares when I do anything. That’s because they are usually too busy worrying about their own being too late.
It’s a lesson I’m learning. Stop worrying. It’s not too late. If you want to get moving, and I hope you do, there’s still time. As a matter of fact, if God is God, you and your church or business are right on time. In God’s sovereign economy, the good works he prepared in advance for you to do are now. So, it’s not too late for you, your church, or your business.
Here’s some ideas to help you think through how you can still respond to COVID-19, right now. It’s not too hard and it’s not too late. It simply requires you to believe that you are just in time to make a real and meaningful difference.
Build a Response Team
Make your members or employees aware you are hoping to mobilize people to provide assistance during this time.
- Send a survey to members/employees to identify who needs help and who wants to help. A good survey will be quick to assess time, treasure, and talents of your people who are willing to help (we can send samples).
- Establish a resource center on your website that can direct people to specific needs (ex: prayer hotline, jobs, food, medical, or transportation).
- Have younger team members go door to door in your community leaving a support flyer expressing your desire to help and how they can reach you.
Adapt Existing Ministries
Continue the mission of your current ministries by accommodating social distancing recommendations.
- Using survey results, assign small groups, business/department teams, care ministries to keep in touch with healthcare workers, the elderly, high risk individuals, and the those in greatest need. Be creative to reach out and think through the best ways to serve each vulnerable group.
- Adjust the delivery of your current outreach resources (ex., drive-thru/ delivery rather than walk-up).
- Encourage members to connect with their own neighbors safely and support the needs they discover.
Partner with Existing Agencies
Connect with agencies already doing good and offer support, thereby making the greatest impact possible together.
- Start with your current ministry partners and see how they can use additional help.
- Contact homeless shelters, assisted living and nursing homes, food distribution centers, foster care agencies, etc. to see what resources they need. Meet their need, start a donation drive, or leverage your relationships to connect them to other help.
- Use church assets such as a church van, a kitchen, a parking lot or storage space to help assist.