We reached out to a few churches from different cities and contexts and asked them to share how they are navigating COVID. We hope their responses encourage you with the unique challenges and opportunities we are all encountering as we continue to pursue life on mission, life in community, and life with God.
Tell us about your church:
Church A: Suburban. Lots of families with a sizable young adults/young professional population. 800-900 attendees pre-COVID. We’ve been around for almost six years.
Church B: Our church is seven years old and is located in Ontario, about forty-five minutes outside of Toronto. We are a younger church of about 250 people. Young families and university students are our two biggest demographics.
Church C: 120 people. City/urban. Median age 35. Majority White, Latinx, Asian, African American represented. Upper middle class.
How are your missional communities struggling, and how are they thriving?
– Figuring out how to meet under strict government guidelines regarding gatherings.
– Keeping track of folks who are drifting.
– Staying on mission.
– Zoom fatigue.
– People moving away and groups getting smaller.
– Prioritizing DNA.
– Getting creative with how to meet regularly.
– Loving each other well as opinions differ about the safety of meeting in-person.
– Stepping up for serving opportunities.
The public health measures in Ontario have been fairly restrictive from the start of the pandemic; we’ve not been able to have more than ten people meeting inside since the beginning. This has made life in missional communities difficult. Over the summer, many of our missional communities made an effort to gather outside for encouragement and fun together, but that will be a challenge as winter sets in and gathering limits continue to get more restrictive again as our cases rise. I think we have seen the essential nature of DNA’s during this time; they are adaptable and can easily pivot between online and in-person and are crucial for support and accountability in a time of isolation like this.
Our MC’s are struggling in connection and in particular with God. It’s just hard to pray on Zoom. We’re also deeply struggling to be welcoming and pursue others in mission during this time as the culture around us is very isolated and staying at home as everyone attempts to follow government guidelines. However, I would say we are thriving in other ways. Most of our MC’s have prioritized each other, met needs within their MC’s as people have lost work, had babies, and struggle with the mental stresses of COVID. During COVID, we’ve seen one MC end, and we’ve seen two new MC’s begin to form over the last month. We’re calling these MCs “Seed MC’s” because we’re still not sure what the Spirit will do with them. We’ve also started an exclusively online community for COVID that is led by a family that is particularly high risk.
How is your church family pursuing mission and care for the vulnerable during COVID?
Although we typically look to our MC’s to do the groundwork of mobilizing mission in the community, COVID has caused us to be more pro-active by offering specific missional opportunities to our people. The results have been incredibly encouraging! We started a grocery drive to support a local organization that provides groceries to hundreds of families, and our people went above and beyond with their contributions. Then we partnered with our local Department of Children, Youth and Families to provide “boredom buster” items to keep kids in high-risk homes mentally engaged and entertained. During the Advent season, we are participating in the Adopt-A-Family program through the Boys and Girls Club, where our MC’s and DNA’s can work together to buy Christmas gifts for underprivileged families. Finally, we have started a partnership with a local foster/adoption agency to create something called “Care Communities” where MC’s and/or DNA’s are matched with a local foster family to wrap around them with care, support, and prayer. For example, an MC will work together to provide a foster family with weekly meals, regular childcare, tutoring, and mentorship. COVID has caused us to be creative with mobilizing our people to serve, but the fruit has been amazing!
Pretty quickly into lockdown we decided to run Alpha Online and saw 25-30 unbelievers attend with someone from our church. This was a really encouraging moment, as many of those invited to attend would not have come to an in-person Alpha, either due to strange schedules, living in another city, or just not being comfortable with religious gatherings.
We also dramatically increased the emphasis on our benevolence fund and as a result have seen more funds flow into this account and more requests to utilize the funds, both for needs within our church and for folks in the community. For example, we recently had someone in our church make a benevolent request for her coworker, who as a result of a mistake by her landlord was forced to move and had to come up with first and last month’s rent with little notice. We were grateful to help. In order to accommodate the increase of benevolent requests, we commissioned two deacons to oversee the distribution of the funds.
We’ve had a few fits and starts. It has looked more like one-off situations where we provide (or pay for) counseling for people in need, help find lodging, and in some cases, purchase food for the vulnerable.
–> Start your free trial today and access hundreds of resources to equip you as a disciple-making leader.
–> Check out a few other blogs and resources: