Guide for Pastoring during Coronavirus: Outreach, Sermon Ideas, More

People talk about adjusting to the “new normal” caused by coronavirus like it’s all bad—and maybe it is. It’s hard to tell at this point. But there’s also good. Bibles are flying off shelves and trending in Google searches. People are aware of their needs now, more than ever, and they’re longing for hope.

Christians have that hope, and the world can change if we share it. If we’re just biding our time waiting for all this to be over, we’re missing out. As has been said by many, it’s time to be the Church.

So you’ve gotten your church online. You’ve invested in digital discipleship. You’re focusing on caring for people. Here are some ideas and resources to help you do that.

Communication and care during coronavirus (COVID-19) 

It’s time to overcommunicate, to try new things in a new time. Sticking with the usual number of services and leaving it at that won’t provide the level of support church members need during coronavirus. They’re facing job insecurity, financial hardships, and anxiety. People who’ve never had a problem with fear, loneliness, or depression are feeling it for the first time. People who’ve long dealt with those problems may be battling them with more intensity.

So don’t stop at what you usually do. Go a step further, then another step. Start small so you don’t get overwhelmed trying to implement everything at once. 

First, read 7 Ways Your Church Can Help People with Coronavirus—you can use most of those seven ways to encourage and provide for all the needy in your church and community, not just those with COVID-19.

Here are some other ideas to help you shepherd your flock and shine a light during these unprecedented times:

  • Hold online meetings and/or Bible studies. You could also prerecord short weekday devotionals like the one below. (No need for it to be polished, though—you can record with your phone, from your living room.)
  • Call elderly people in your church and any others who may not have internet access. Set up group calls so members can connect with you and others at the same time.
  • Send handwritten postcards/notes to your members and recent visitors.
  • Add an “I need help/I can help” comment box on your website for people to ask for or volunteer to help during COVID-19. Include options for prayer, counseling, a friendly phone call, shopping, help with online meetings, and food. You can put a couple people in charge of responding to every request, matching volunteers with requests and meeting needs.
  • Add a comment box to your website asking for creative ideas of how you can serve during COVID-19. You may not be able to follow through on every idea, but it will get your members thinking.
  • Drop off care packages.
  • Send lunch or coffee to hospitals, as many healthcare workers can’t leave to get food. Even better, you can order through a locally-owned restaurant.
  • Host live stream prayer meetings throughout the week. A popular time for many churches has been every day at lunch.
  • Set up a virtual game night, Bible trivia night (effortless with Faithlife Proclaim), or scavenger hunt for your teens. (This could work for adults, too.)

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  • Encourage children in your church to write letters to those in nursing homes, since they can’t receive visitors.
  • Create an internal “job board” for church members, where people can post job opportunities they know of or that they’re looking for work.
  • See if any business professionals in your church would be willing to record a video or give one-on-one guidance to those needing to revamp their resumes or prepare for interviews.
  • Start a food and toiletry bank. Depending on how much space you have, you could also ask members to donate clothing and other necessities.
  • This idea comes from National Christian Foundation: “Issue a mission of the day: Post on social media or your church’s website with a mission they can do each day—bake something for a neighbor, write a note, give a neighbor your phone number to call if they are lonely. Place the note in a plastic bag or envelope and tape it to the mailbox. Serve those neighbors in some creative way. Then ask for reports of how this went for those who tried it.”1
  • Create online resources for those dealing with anxiety and depression, then share them with your church members and on social media. For example, record videos or podcast episodes and make them available on your website, along with a downloadable list of verses and other helpful resources. Some churches have even created Spotify playlists to encourage members. 
  • Create specific funds for benevolence giving to support those who’ve lost jobs, missionaries affected by COVID-19, etc.
  • Tell your members about free resources that might interest them, like  Faithlife Connect and free books from Logos and Faithlife.
  • Provide meals and prayer for those who’ve lost loved ones, but also suggest a funeral and memorial plan to help limit uncertainty and focus on the future. If your area doesn’t have restrictions on funerals, you can provide support as you usually would. But if it does,

1) suggest the funeral be recorded;
2) hold an online memorial service if the family would like;
3) plan for a future in-person memorial where people can view the funeral and pay their respects. 

  • Start a prayer phone line.

For more ideas, see Ways Churches Are Stepping Up during the COVID-19 Crisis.

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33 topical sermon ideas to preach during coronavirus (COVID-19)

These 33 ideas come from 3 seconds of work. To get them, all we did was type in “Phil 4:6–7” into the Passage Guide of Logos Gold, then scrolled down to Thematic Outlines.

  1. Asking
  2. Attitudes, positive to God
  3. Attitudes, to life
  4. Believers’ experience of life
  5. Believers’ experience of peace
  6. Benefits of discipleship
  7. Care
  8. Comfort
  9. Depression
  10. Elements of worship
  11. Giving of oneself
  12. God the provider
  13. Health
  14. Heart, results of renewal in
  15. The human mind
  16. Intelligence
  17. Perfection, human
  18. Prayer as asking God
  19. Prayer as praise and thanksgiving
  20. Promises, divine
  21. Protection
  22. Refuge
  23. Rest, physical
  24. Restlessness
  25. Sanctuary
  26. Spiritual vitality
  27. Spiritual warfare, armor
  28. Stress
  29. Suffering, encouragements in
  30. Thankfulness
  31. Thanksgiving
  32. Times for worship
  33. Worry

Clicking the arrow next to each topic in the Thematic Outline lays out what could be used as a sermon outline. For example, here’s the Thematic Outline for the topic of worry:

Preaching on loneliness and grief during social distancing

Loneliness and grief are two more prevalent problems caused by COVID-19 quarantine. How would you start preparing to preach on these sermon topics in Logos

You could type a related passage into the Passage Guide, like above.

Or you could open Guides, then choose Sermon Starter Guide, and type in “loneliness.” Open another Sermon Starter Guide, and type in “grief.” You’ll see key passages, pericopes, preaching resources, thematic outlines, any related sermons in your Logos library, and more. 

In case you don’t yet have Logos Bible Software, we’ll include a few helps.

Here are key passages for loneliness:

  • Genesis 2:18
  • Psalm 68:5–6
  • Jeremiah 15:16–17
  • Matthew 27:46
  • 2 Timothy 4:16 

And here are key passages for grief:

  • Psalm 34:18
  • Psalm 137:1
  • Matthew 5:4
  • Luke 19:41–42
  • John 11:33–35

Thematic outlines for grief provide many possible sermon directions: God’s comfort in grief, disappointment, the experience of bereavement, lament, mourning, sadness, sorrow, weeping, and widows.

Resources for Christian counseling during coronavirus (COVID-19)

10 free and affordable resources for Christian counseling

5 comprehensive resources for Christian counseling

We hope this guide for pastoring during coronavirus will help you encourage others—and that you’ll be encouraged yourself. As one pastor using Faithlife Equip’s integrated ministry platform recently told his congregation:

In these challenging, unknown times, we are looking for answers. Some are looking for someone to blame. Others are searching for someone to get them out of these problems. You have been called by Jesus Christ himself to be the answer that is needed. As the Church, you are the answer that humanity needs right now. Do you have what it takes? Are you going to answer the call?

Thank you for answering the call, and let us know if we can help! 

If you’re still moving online, you’ll get the most benefit by starting with mobile giving, then setting up your live streaming.

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  1. https://www.ncfgiving.com/stories/11-ideas-for-your-church-to-consider-in-response-to-covid-19/

Comments

  1. Do you happen to have any blogs we can see

    • Karen Engle says

      Hi Eliyah,
      Thanks for your post. Would you mind clarifying your question? I’m not sure which blogs you are asking about.

      Thanks! Karen