Having a church family means we don’t have to be isolated even at this unprecedented time. We refuse to buy into fear and anxiety. How? By staying connected to Jesus and each other.
Grace Communion Richardson (Texas) has been using this time of “social distancing” to move ahead on several communication projects to help with this. We phoned each member to check in, and at the same time we updated their contact information and communication preferences in our Planning Center (http://planningcenter.com) system. In the coming weeks we’ll be using Text In Church (http://textinchurch.com), which syncs with Planning Center, to encourage our members. Previously we’d used it only to connect with visitors. We’ll also produce an updated member directory to help members keep in touch with each other more easily.
Checking in with members revealed several needs. A couple of people didn’t have internet access; another member helped them hear the live-streamed service through the telephone. A few others had run out of toilet paper and paper towels and couldn’t find any in stores; other members delivered the items the next day. We’re using our member’s Facebook page to share needs like this as we discover them.
Christine Ojih and Nadine Santibanez are making face masks and encouraging others to do so to provide to neighborhood hospitals. A nurse friend in one of our hospitals shared how the shortages are even beginning to impact availability for the kiddos in the children’s cancer ward.
Like many churches, we immediately moved our services online using Facebook Live. After the first Sunday, we started using OBS (http://obsproject.com) software to produce a more professional broadcast. Member Barry Ford, who runs the company Future Broadcast, (http://www.futurebroadcast.biz) used his professional skills to take live performances from several praise team members recorded in their homes to produce combined worship videos, which we added to the livestream.
The livestreams have been well received and had hundreds of views from members and those outside the church. One watch party drew viewers from all over the world. This is one way we can share the hope we have in Christ in this time of uncertainty. We believe we are attracting attention from people who do not regularly attend church or yet have a relationship with Jesus.
Like many GCI congregations, we have a high number of seniors who fall in the most vulnerable category of the virus. Please pray for continued protection and peace for all seniors around the globe.
Please pray that this crisis will point many people to Jesus, our constant source of hope, especially in times of trouble.
In his peace and hope,
Pastor Gabriel and Christine Ojih