These are definitely unprecedented times.
And different times, unprecedented times, call for a different strategy playbook.
Trying to use well-worn, old faithful, strategy to connect people when operating in a different season, will not have the same results.
Unprecedented times call, actually scream, for a different playbook.
Now...you may be tempted to think (hope) everything returns to normal when the curve has been flattened and social distancing and shelter in place directives have been called off.
But what if things don't return to normal? (My lead pastor led us through a discussion about this. His first question was, "How quickly do you think a mom will check her children, her new baby, into our Sunday morning kids' ministry?)
Today's Big Idea
Whether this unprecedented season ends in 6 weeks or extends into the fall (or beyond), there is an opportunity right now to connect a new wave of unconnected people.
Because of social distancing, sheltering-in-place, and "no gathering" orders, everyone is more isolated than ever before. And that experience is heightening loneliness and the longing for community.
In other words, the always present, back of the mind need to belong has never been more front of mind.
Now, addressing this issue may not be what your leadership team is thinking about. It needs to be on everyone's radar. But it's not.
And that's where you come in.
To connect more people YOU may have to become the champion of the cure for the most powerful side-effect of the coronavirus pandemic.
How can you become the champion?
Part of the champion's role is to be the one talking about the issue. It may be easier for you to see than anyone else on your team.
And by "talking about the issue" I mean pointing out the situation and then offering a suggestion (or suggestions) that addresses the issue of loneliness and the longing for community.
Need suggestions for how to address the issue? Here are a few:
- Do a little reading. Social Distancing + Need to Belong = Opportunity is my attempt to frame up the idea. Leading Beyond the Blizzard: Why Every Organization Is a Startup framed up the conversation for our lead team. The History of Loneliness is another article (from a scientific perspective) that will provide insight.
- The Barna organization is offering a free Crisis Toolkit for Churches. The toolkit offers several resources that can have an immediate impact on your congregation and crowd (and they are free). In my mind the most important of the free resources is a customizable weekly check-in of your congregation and community. This is big! Giving your congregation (and even the community) an opportunity to raise their hand when they have a need is really important.
- If you haven't already initiated a virtual guest central after your online service, now is the time to do it and it is easy to do. See also, How to Use Zoom as a First Step Our of Your Virtual Auditorium.
- Consider holding a virtual small group connection. As a next step out of the virtual guest central, it is a very workable strategy to start online groups. See also, 7 Things to Keep in Mind When Hosting an Online Connection.
The big idea here is that if you want to help connect unconnected people in this season, you may need to play the champion role. I hope these ideas will help you do it!