We left for deeply personal reasons. But that didn't make it easy. It was the place we called "home." For me, it was 27 years, and for my wife, it was 18. But it was the only church our kids knew. Time has passed, but we still feel the weight of leaving something of value behind.
What do we miss the most? Is it the preaching, the music, or the worship team? The service production? No. While all of these contributed to the experience, I think our whole family would agree that we miss the relationships most of all. The sense of belonging to a community is powerful. It's emotional. I'm confident it's what your congregation is missing most now, too.
As a church leader, you struggle to find ways to hold your church together. Maybe you see what others are doing and try to keep up. You never broadcast live on the web before, but you now have a YouTube channel. Or maybe it's videos on Instagram or Facebook Live. These are great. Keep going. But can I also submit several words of encouragement?
Do what you can, but don't stress too much. Yes, your congregation misses you, but they miss gathering together more. Don't put too much pressure on yourself to keep up with what others are doing. And no matter how much you do online, it's just a fill-in. It doesn't replace what your congregants are missing most anyway. Just find what's distinctly you and do that well.
Remind your church family that while this is tough, it won't last forever. You all will get through this, and then you'll be together again. Suggest things they can do to stay in touch with each other. It's not a gathering, but it's an "in the meantime."
Sometimes, a simple phone call means so much during this time of separation. Consider inviting your leaders to make personal phone calls to each church member. If you are a smaller church, you may be doing this already. How meaningful it would be for church members to receive a call from a leader of a larger church. It's a simple, personal interaction that can go a long way. Incidentally, there may never be a better time to call your congregation members during the day and have them answer on the first try!
Sometimes the most simple things you can do online are the ones that resonate the most. I mentioned Facebook Live before, but I think it's one of the more simple tools you can use to relate with your church family. No fancy production. No polished sermons. Just like a face-to-face conversation with your family members.
While we are now attending a church we enjoy, it will take time to fill in those relationships we left behind. Thankfully, your church members are coming back to that place of connection and the community where they belong.
Communication builds community. If you'd like help and exploring ways to improve any area of your church's communication processes, let us know.