During this COVID-19 global pandemic, we’re all quickly adjusting to how we do things and are trying our best to maneuver during uncertain times. Churches seem to have been hit particularly hard during these times because they’ve not only lost the physical interaction and spiritual fellowship that having weekend services provides, but many are beginning to feel the financial impact as member contributions decline due to the growing unemployment rate in the US.
Today I wanted to share with you 5 things that your church should be doing now to weather this temporary storm and position your church to be even better when this cloud of uncertainty is lifted.
Leverage Social Media
This pretty obvious as cities and states have implemented stay-at-home orders limiting gatherings of 10 or more people and requiring “social distancing” from everyone. You church should be using its social media channels to stay engaged with your members as well as creating unique ways to reach out to others within your community and throughout the world.
Everyone is preaching and teaching online – that’s a given. But what ways can your church stand out and engage people in a way that’s unique, fresh, and authentic to your church? During these times, people need hope, they want to laugh, and they desire a sense of community. Simply asking everyone to “tune in” to your weekend message or church service, just to hear your message may be fine for your members but may get lost among visitors in an already sea of messages from every other church.
Remember, social media is engaging and interactive so be creative and post & share content that will leave people excited, engaged, and eager to stay connected with your church.
Use Online Giving
If your church isn’t already providing members and visitors an opportunity to give online, then you’re missing an opportunity for revenue during times when you probably need it most! There are many different platforms that you can use to set up and collect contributions online. If you’re already using some type of Church Management Software, chances are there’s a giving module that integrates with it directly, allowing you to collect donations via text or online.
Yes, there’s most likely going to be a fee for online giving, however, churches that have implemented these types of giving systems report that they’re 70% less likely to see giving shifts throughout the year and report that their revenue remains stable.
We have a free resource tool that gives you some ideas on how to get started with online giving if you don’t already have a system in place. And if you need more help implementing this type of system within your ministry, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Reduce Expenses Where Possible
This is a global crisis, and everyone is being affected, which means your creditors will not be unsympathetic to your current situation. During this time, your church should look for ways to reserve cash flow by deferring payments or asking for a reduced payment schedule while money is tight. Look, the worst that could happen is that they say no – which means you’re no worse off than you are right now.
See if you can negotiate deferring rent payments by extending your lease. Contact your mortgage company and see what assistance programs they have available during this time. This can also be the case for your utilities and insurance payments.
For those churches that employ either full-time or part-time staff employees, be sure to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program through the SBA or apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) through a participating bank.
Have a Recovery Strategy
We are going to get through this, so as the leader, you should be looking ahead and creating a plan of how your church will recover once this pandemic has eased. What will be the impacts to your members and your community once this is over? What will they need from your ministry in order to help get life back to normal for them?
What new ministries will your church need or what adaptations will your existing ministries take on for the remainder of the year? Start working on a plan for your church post-COVID-19 so that you and your team will have a head start in getting ministry back on track. Think through your programs and activities with your future church in mind so that you’re ready to lead your church through a long recovery process.
Be Ready for a Budget Revision
You will more than likely need to revise your church budget so now is the time to meet with your leaders (and staff) in order to identify what adjustments may be needed for the remainder of the year. You may need to postpone services or events or cancel them altogether for this year. If you’re able to get a deferment on your monthly bills, you’ll need that revenue to catch back up and stay current with creditors.
Also consider that your contributions may still be down once the pandemic has eased, as members will also be catching up on deferred payments and may have fewer resources to give beyond their normal tithing and offering. You’ll need to probably play it more conservative at least for 2020 since we’re not sure when this catastrophe will be over and what effects it will leave on those of us left to endure it.
As the leader, you’re responsible for keeping the ship straight as we navigate through these choppy and sometimes uncertain waters. But we know that God is with us and He will see us through. We just have to be prayerful, patient, and strategic as we lead our congregations through these unprecedented times.