Coronavirus (COVID-19) resources for church leaders

As you navigate and respond to the coronavirus (COVID-19) at your church, please be aware of these valuable resources specifically compiled for houses of worship.

This resources list will be updated as additional tools become available.

If you have a resource to share, please contact Church Executive Editor in Chief RaeAnn Slaybaugh.


Update 3/31/20:

9 Ways You Can Be Intentional with Your Facility During COVID-19

With your church empty from all the self-isolating members are doing at the moment, now is the perfect time to ensure your facilities are in good shape and not deteriorating from disuse. This great article from Smart Church Solutions offers nine ways to do this. Learn more at https://www.smartchurchsolutions.com/blog/9-ways-you-can-be-intentional-with-your-facility-during-covid-19.

Free Webinar: Caring for Neighbors from a Distance

This free webinar from NYC group Practical Resources for Churches provides practical advice on how to connect with your community in a time of social distancing. Get expert advice on forming a team, identifying needs, options for community ministry, partnering with local groups, self-care and many other topics!

WHEN: Thursday, April 2 at 1 p.m. ET

This event is free, but you must register: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_SP_utoKaS3uH8dQ7il-edA

You can also join Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/831921207311526/.


Update 3/27/20:

How Financial Institutions and Payments Associations Can Help Nonprofit Clients During the Coronavirus Outbreak

As social distancing has become necessary of late, and is likely to last a while, nonprofits and especially religious organizations face a serious problem: How to retain donations coming in on a regular basis when religious services and other fundraising events cannot take place in-person.

Financial institutions and other service providers are perfectly positioned to help their nonprofit clients generate a sustained donation stream through recurring ACH payments.

Direct withdrawal via ACH helps to retain and cultivate recurring donors. ACH removes the hassle often associated with credit/debit cards because there are no expiration dates with direct withdrawal via ACH. ACH also eliminates the need to store and handle paper checks.

Additionally, direct withdrawal via ACH reduces fees and resources spent on processing donations made by credit/debit cards and paper checks, allowing donors’ resources to more fully support the mission. And when donors cannot be present at services, direct withdrawal via ACH ensures their donations continue.

Looking for a way to share the message about the benefits of direct withdrawal via ACH? Nacha’s Nonprofit Toolkit has a number of resources including case studies, FAQs and white label resources to help nonprofits reiterate key message points while offering easy-to-use templates. Also available are sample donor letters, emails for fund drives, renewal documents, and more.


Update 3/26/20:

New Data: Congregants Embrace Online Worship in Record Numbers Amid Coronavirus

ChurchStreaming.tv and easyTithe, Ministry Brands companies, reported an unprecedented surge in congregant online worship and tithing as in-person church attendance levels decrease. easyTithe saw a 99% increase in online giving and ChurchStreaming.tv saw a quadrupling of its streaming usage over the same period in 2019. The surge reflects churches harnessing technology to reach their most vulnerable members and provide continuity, while aligning with social distancing measures.

“More than ever, church communities need to unite in spirit to worship, find hope and comfort,” said Daniel Simmons, Managing Director, Ministry Brands. “Churches are protecting their most vulnerable congregants through social distancing, while embracing platforms that keep communities connected and forwarding their missions.”

Additional key findings for mid-March from Ministry Brands platforms include:

  • 189% increase in individuals contributing gifts online.
  • Thousands of U.S. churches registering zero attendance for Sunday services.
  • Mass texting for churches jumping more than 1,000% on the ChurchCast platform.
  • Digital streaming via ChurchStreaming.tv increased by 400%.

Ministry Brands recorded a sizable increase of 99% more online contributions than the same time period last year, with many giving via major debit or credit cards such as Visa and others. With most churches now using some form of online giving, and at least 30% or more of their members already utilizing these platforms, Ministry Brands expects to see significant growth in congregants moving to online giving this year due to the impact of COVID-19.

Churches Poised to Embrace New Technology Ahead of Easter 2020

Year-over-year, Easter remains the highest attended day of church, as well as one of the most significant days for charitable donations. As this critical time to connect with newcomers and congregants approaches, many new faith-based communities of all sizes are preparing to venture into uncharted territory as they hold their Easter Sunday services virtually. Small churches, defined as 200 congregants or less, often have a larger proportion of older congregants. According to Pew Research, more than 50% of weekly churchgoers are comprised of Baby Boomers and older generations.

“With Easter Sunday 2020 approaching, we’re seeing churches with 200 congregants and under rapidly adopt new platforms for worship,” Simmons added. “It’s exciting to see the inherent resiliency of churches, always driven by their mission, and recognizing the power that technology has to reach, connect and serve their congregants and communities.”

Ministry Brands provides online giving software to more than 30,000 churches, parishes and ministries in the U.S. and provides streaming services for more than 3,000 churches. The increases discussed reflect the combined growth across all religious and faith-based organizations that use Ministry Brands’ platforms.


Update 3/25/20:

Christian Leaders Host COVID-19 Church Online Summit This Thursday and Friday

Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton College and National Association of Evangelicals Will Present a Two-Day Digital Summit to Help Churches Respond Creatively, Practically and Faithfully to the Coronavirus Outbreak

Church leaders are facing unprecedented times. This Thursday and Friday, March 26-27, the Humanitarian Disaster Institute (HDI) at Wheaton College and the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) will present “COVID-19 Church Online Summit,” a two-day digital summit to help churches respond creatively, practically and faithfully to the coronavirus outbreak. Registration is free; sign up at www.covid19churchsummit.com.

Some of the many confirmed speakers include:

  • VADM Jerome M. Adams, M.D., M.P.H., Surgeon General of the United States with a special message to churches
  • Best-selling author Philip Yancey
  • Worship leaders Jason Roy from Building 429, Russ Lee from Newsong and Michael Tait from Newsboys
  • Eugene Cho, author and president-elect of Bread for the World
  • Ed Stetzer, executive director of the Billy Graham Center
  • Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil, associate professor of Reconciliation Studies at Seattle Pacific University
  • Dr. Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition
  • David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Group
  • Nicolette Louissaint, executive director of Healthcare Ready
  • Daniel Darling, vice president of communication for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention
  • David O. Taylor, assistant professor of theology & culture at Fuller Seminary

“As an academic disaster research center, HDI has spent the past nine years studying how churches can better love and serve their congregations and communities in response to disaster and crisis,” said Jamie Aten, Ph.D., a disaster psychologist and the founder and executive director of the Humanitarian Disaster Institute. “We exist to serve the church in a moment like this and are committed to providing evidence-informed resources to help churches love and serve while using best practices.”

By registering, summit-goers will receive access to a password-protected website where they can watch messages from church leaders responding to ministry questions; the videos can be viewed at their convenience and will be live through Easter.

To register for the summit, visit www.covid19churchsummit.com. To view all of HDI’s coronavirus resources, visit wheaton.edu/hdi-covid19 and follow the hashtag #COVID19church on social media.

Learn more about the Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton College and National Association of Evangelicals.

Faithlife Keeps Churches, Students and Communities Connected

In recognition of the many churches, pastors, parents and students who will be quarantined at home for the foreseeable future, Faithlife, makers of Logos Bible Software, is providing a plethora of its premium online resources and packages at little or no cost for the next 60 days to encourage community connectedness and spiritual growth at the individual, family and church levels.

“We must stay connected during this time of social distancing,” said Faithlife Founder and CEO Bob Pritchett. “To support the many churches and families who are doing their part to keep themselves and others as healthy as possible, we are making our resources for at-home church operations, education and entertainment readily available at an affordable price for everyone.”

Faithlife has set up Faithlife.com/coronavirus with information about accessing the following resources at little to no charge for the next 60 days:

“It is our prayer and hope that making these resources more readily available will bless the Church and help us stay connected,” Pritchett said. “To get through these difficult times, we must continue to come alongside our brothers and sisters in whatever ways we can to meet our physical, emotional and spiritual needs.”


Update 3/24/20:

Barna’s Crisis Toolkit for Churches

One of the largest faith-based research organizations has created a crisis resource for church leaders to give their voice, get expert analysis, know how other leaders are responding, engage with their community and lead with confidence. ChurchPulse Weekly is delivered every week with the latest updates as the situation progresses around the world.

Taking Church Online Webinar Series

Ministry Platform and Church IT Network have teamed up to put out a series of free webinars on Taking Church Online, each focusing on a different topic like Community Outreach & Care, Services & Prayer, Giving & Financials, and so on. In this current climate, many people may be realizing that they need God, which means they really need the church. Use these resources to help provide whatever resources, tips, tools, support, encouragement, prayer that the church can offer.


Update 3/23/20:

Podcast — How Churches Can Leverage Live-Stream to Share their Message

In this episode of The Church Engagement Podcast from Blackbaud, Dan Noonan details how churches can leverage live-streaming and digital content to reach their communities. Listen to Noonan discuss evaluating the pros and cons of live-streaming and digital content.

Blackbaud also offers a dedicated resource page for church leaders navigating the coronavirus pandemic, including:

  • 10 things fundraisers can do from home during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • 6 tips for managing a virtual workforce
  • How to have church during coronavirus
  • Tips to maintain momentum for your in-person fundraising events amidst COVID-19
  • More!

Find them all at: https://faith.blackbaud.com/coronavirus

Thousands from Over 200 Countries Gather at Times Square Church Online to Pray in a Time of Crisis

COVID-19 has closed down in-person worship, at least for the time being, but at Times Square Church in New York City, weekly Tuesday evening prayer services go on as usual because these online virtual gatherings have welcomed thousands of people from over 200 countries for more than five years. The weekly prayer meetings at this church in the crossroads of the world happen each Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET at tsc.nyc/webcasts/tuesday-7pm.

Times Square Church’s online prayer meetings began on Jan. 28, 2015, and prayers have been received from 207 self-reported countries and dependencies, with the U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia and India being the top submitters. Prayer requests and reports of answered prayers come in directly through a website submission form, on the church’s app or via text message.

As the coronavirus spreads from person to person in unprecedented numbers throughout the world, public officials have taken drastic measures to control the global pandemic within their own borders. People must work from home, schools have closed, local businesses are shutting down, the markets are plummeting and fear of the future looms in the hearts of many.

In the midst of the fear and uncertainty for the future, people are looking for answers.

“God knew this was coming,” said Times Square Church leader Carter Conlon, “and we need to cry out to him because he hears and he wants to answer our prayer. The Bible makes this clear in 2 Chronicles 7:14: ‘If my people who are called by My name would humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal the land.’”

“When God called us to start the Worldwide Prayer Meeting at Times Square Church, all we knew was we needed to provide a way for people to submit their prayers online and have them display on the screen in our sanctuary so people would see them and pray,” he continued. “Only God could have called us to start this prayer meeting with people from all over the world for such a time as this. At Times Square Church, we knew then and we know now that the only way we are going to get through this is to come together and pray. It’s time to pray!”

Since its inception, the prayer meeting has received hundreds of thousands of prayer requests and answers to prayer. As the coronavirus pandemic causes panic and anxiety around the world, this Worldwide Prayer Meeting has seen a surge of participants online who have nowhere else to go voice their fears and concerns:

  • “Thank you for making the prayer meeting happen last night. I needed it. Thank you so much for your work and sacrifice, it really means a lot to me right now.”—Anonymous, Florida
  • “Please pray for us for protection from this virus. I have to travel by bus, have to go work surrounded with many people. We need a miracle, mercy. Thank you, Jesus.”—Anonymous, New Jersey
  • “I am self-isolating with my roommates, one of whom is high risk. Please pray for health and financial provision. Thank you, and God bless.”—Pamela G., Brooklyn, New York
  • “Pray urgently for my daughter, who needs a miracle healing from coronavirus, bad chest and body pains, and shortness of breath. Pray for her 18-month-old baby to be safe. Pray for a miracle.”—Anonymous, New York City
  • “Please pray. Our income is greatly affected by coronavirus; the main source of income is temporarily suspended until further notice. We’re already late on rent and bills.”—Ana A., Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
  • “Please pray for Ivan. A young man in his twenties hospitalized by the coronavirus. For his dear family. They love the Lord deeply. Thank you.”—Marga, Palma de Mallorca, Spain
  • “Pray for my 31-year-old daughter who has the coronavirus. She’s getting worse but can’t get medical care until she’s in respiratory distress. She has pneumonia too.”—Connie, Huntsville, Alabama
  • “My roommate is receiving coronavirus treatment as of yesterday here in Qatar gulf country. Requesting for prayers and strength from you all.”—George, Doha, Qatar
  • “Please pray for Greece, there are two wars waging—one at the border and one with this coronavirus. Pray that our Lord gives us His peace.”—Evi F., Sparta, Greece

Pastor Conlon and Times Square Church congregants believe God has prepared them for this hour.

“The church has always served as a place of refuge, solace and provision in times of crisis,” Conlon said. “But the church is not the building. No time has that been clearer than now. The church of Jesus Christ is you and me. And we need to be the church wherever we are at a time like this.”

The Worldwide Prayer Meeting, as it brings together the Body of Christ from all over the world, is precisely that. It is the church gathering together because they know the answer to what to do in the face of the unimaginable. And that answer is clear and urgent: It’s time to pray!

Times Square Church is an inter-denominational, multinational congregation, located in the heart of New York City, at 51st Street, between Broadway and Eighth Avenue, founded by Rev. David Wilkerson, author of the best-selling book “The Cross and the Switchblade.” Over 10,000 people, representing more than 100 different nationalities, gather to pray together each week, finding true unity is possible through Jesus Christ.

For more information on Times Square Church and the Worldwide Prayer Meeting, visit tsc.nyc or itstimetopray.org.


Update 3/20/20:

Indiana United Methodist Conference: how to livestream your worship services and put giving online

In communities all over the country, churches have no choice but to conduct worship online. For those who are unfamiliar with this experience, use this guide from Indiana United Methodist Conference to get you going.

Episcopal Relief and Development Free Webinars

ADDRESSING ISOLATION AND QUARANTINE

Social distancing and quarantine are life-saving measures that reduce the impacts of the new coronavirus, COVID-19, however; they also can be challenging for many people. Join us, Rev. Dr. Pamela Cooper-White and Bishop Chilton Knudsen in a conversation around family/partner violence, substance use and mental health as they relate to the current pandemic.

March 20, 2020
3 PM EDT/ 2 CDT/1 MDT/12 PDT
Registration is required

A MINISTERIAL RESPONSE TO COVID-19

Episcopal Relief & Development hosted a conversation on March 13, 2020 about the ways ministries can continue their work while being safe. We heard from Aaron Scott, Chaplain and Organizer for Chaplains on the Harbor in the Grays Harbor, Washington area and the Rev. Dr. Thomas Ni, Associate for Chinese Ministry for The Church of Our Savior in the Los Angeles, CA area. Each discussed how COVID-19 has impacted their ministry. Listen below. Read our key takeaways.

Some Inspiration

Grace Lutheran Church’s current website is great example of a church website update for answering the common questions church members are asking right now. It’s a good idea to revamp your site as well to make it easy for your congregants to know how to connect with your church under the current conditions.

Epidemic Preparedness Planning Guidelines for Churches and Dioceses

Episcopal Relief and Development Epidemic has developed a response plan template for churches to adapt and utilize as they deal with the evolving dynamics of the nation’s response to the health crisis.

Facebook Group Support: Online Church from PRC

This online group is a forum where worship communities can come together to share resources on conducting worship, small groups, discipleship online.


Update 3/19/20:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Resources for Community- and Faith-Based Leaders

Visit the CDC website for guidelines on:

  • Planning, preparing and responding to coronavirus disease 2019
  • Interim Guidance for Community and Faith Leaders
  • Cleaning and Disinfection Recommendations
  • Checklist for Community and Faith Leaders

Churches, Ministries Plot Path Forward Amid ‘Coronavirus Shock’

Churches, international and national ministries, Christian schools, rescue missions and a host of grassroots organizations are coping with “coronavirus shock” as they face unprecedented challenges amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Churches, Christian missions and ministries everywhere have suffered a significant jolt and are urgently trying to figure out the best path forward,” said Palmer Holt, founder and CEO of InChrist Communications (ICC), a North Carolina-based agency that helps Christian nonprofits navigate crisis situations. “But this is actually a pivotal moment. Now is not a time to shrink back, but the time to run toward the fight and show a panicked world that Christ is the hope they’re looking for.”

That message needs to be strategically and creatively communicated to key stakeholders, especially donors and supporters, the former newspaper editor and Fortune 100 media relations executive said.  Holt’s firm helped international missions agency SIM successfully navigate the Ebola Crisis in 2014.

Across the United States and around the world, cancellations, lockdowns, travel restrictions and the era of “self isolating” have forced Christian ministries and churches to rapidly rethink the way they serve others.  Many are refocusing and expanding ministry efforts, and thinking strategically how to keep vital communications open in the unforeseen crisis.

Many faith-based social services agencies that deal face-to-face with the public every day have already taken drastic action — curtailing programs, canceling missions trips, and putting special events on hold.

In the past few days, Serve Denton, a Texas-based church-run social services agency, has had to stop Bible studies in local nursing homes, fly 120 high school students back from a missions trip in Romania, and hastily set up church services via online live streaming because gatherings of more than 250 people were banned.

Communication is Key

“I cannot emphasize enough the importance of clear, strategic communications at times like these,” said Pat Smith, CEO of Serve Denton, located in Denton, Texas. “People want leaders, and leaders have to communicate what they’re doing.”

Meanwhile, faith-based rescue missions across the U.S. are seeing a negative impact on volunteers — crucial to their service delivery. “People are worried, and rightly so, about serving folks who don’t have regular access to sanitation facilities,” said John Ashmen, president of Colorado Springs-based Citygate Network, representing some 300 rescue missions and homeless shelters across North America.

“The people we serve are already in crisis, even without COVID-19,” Ashmen said. “One of the biggest potential problems is finding places for homeless people to be quarantined, if necessary.”

Christian schools across America and around the world are wrestling with mandatory school closures and the shift to online distance learning, said Larry Lincoln, spokesperson for the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI).

“It’s imperative that school leaders proactively engage in timely communication,” he said. “For many, life might seem currently unpredictable, but as believers it’s a perfect time to let the light of Jesus Christ shine through our words and actions.”

Doug Fountain is the director of Christian Connections for International Health (CCIH), an umbrella organization of faith-based healthcare workers across the globe.

“It’s vital to address any crisis early,” Fountain said, citing the importance of “clear and consistent” messaging. “All of us, especially under-resourced health ministries, are so focused on responding to the needs right in front of us.  It’s a challenge to think about what could happen, but it’s a basic component of strategic planning,” he said.

With missions work around the world plunged into uncertainty, Missio Nexus, North America’s largest association of missions agencies and churches focused on global evangelism, has issued a coronavirus “contingency plan” for its members, urging them to “stay alert and prepare to respond appropriately as circumstances change.”

“It could be months before the full impact of the coronavirus crisis on world missions is known,” said Missio Nexus president Ted Esler.

Free resources to effectively communicate to stakeholders during the coronavirus outbreak — including a crisis communications checklist, courtesy strategy sessions and webinars — are available at https://www.inchristcommunication.com/safe/.


Free On-Demand Webinar: “Prepare Your Church for Coronavirus”

Join Ministry Brands for a webinar, guide & free tech. They review:

  • How to make sure members know about changes to your services
  • Ways to keep your staff connected and doing ministry, even if they work from home
  • Best practices for connecting your congregation during disruptions (live streaming tips included)
  • Free church technology you can quickly adopt to connect your ministry during this challenging time

You’ll find it all here.

 

 

‘America’s Pastor’ Rick Warren addresses the nation amid Coronavirus fears

On March 14, Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church and best-selling author of The Purpose Driven Life, shared a special message, “What to Do in a Crisis: Our Response to the Coronavirus.”

“The purpose of this message is to give everyone hope and encouragement to confront their fears in these anxious days,” said Warren.

Warren has been in direct contact with Dr. Robert Redfield, national director for the Center for Disease Control (CDC), a longtime friend who has been integral in helping Saddleback Church implement the “C” of its P.E.A.C.E. Plan, which works to Promote reconciliation, Equip servant leaders, Assist the poor, Care for the sick, and Educate the next generation worldwide.

During the address, Warren reviews simple measures individuals can take to protect themselves and others from getting the COVID-19 virus, provide tools to guard from feeling overwhelmed by worry and stress, and explain three immediate ways one can serve their community during this crisis.

Warren’s complete address is available now on the Saddleback website.

XPastor’s Emergency 5-Week Course: “Coronavirus and Church”

For XPastor founder Dr. David Fletcher, the coronavirus crisis heated up while he was on vacation with his family.  It became so important that he took time out of that vacation to work on this course.

“This 5-week course will require tons of my time, energy, emails, webwork and study … probably invest 30-40 hours a week for the foreseeable future,” he writes.

This $249 course will help church leaders:

  • Keep Sunday morning safe — take steps to have a safe place of worship
  • Continue ministry and giving — evaluate each week if any class or activity should be cancelled, and open easy avenues for giving
  • Expand outreach to the community — pray and prepare for how to serve to your local community

More information is available online.

Faithlife Offers Step-by-Step Guide for Taking a Church Online in Under 24 Hours

Faithlife Corporation is hosting daily live Q&As during COVID-19 social distancing

Faithlife Corporation is helping leaders ensure COVID-19 social distancing doesn’t disrupt their efforts to be the Church by offering a number of free and low-cost tools to help them take their church online during this pandemic.

Faithlife has set up step-by-step online instructions to help leaders:

  • Record their sermons
  • Publish their sermons to their church website and social media
  • Build a free streaming TV channel for their recorded sermons and other video
  • Enable mobile and online giving for their church in minutes
  • Provide a safe online community for their church to share prayer requests, facilitate small group discussion

Additionally, Faithlife is offering daily live Q&As with its team of experts March 16-20 at 10 a.m. PDT.

More information is available online.

 

 

 

 

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