What a crazy time we are living in. Toilet paper disappears from stores as fast as it appears, restaurants are nearly empty, businesses are finally letting more people do remote work (how many of you need to be in the office all the time to do your job?), travel is being restricted, the list goes on. Life as we know it has been upended, but we don’t need to panic. Today I bring you a collection of thoughts on an assortment of topics.
This thing is not the flu. Sure, there are some similarities, but from what I have gathered, it is RNA based, not DNA, originating in animals. The jump to humans came after it mutated, and since jumping to humans, it has mutated again. We don’t yet have a way to fight it, and it will likely mutate again. The reason life, as we know it, has so drastically changed is a combination of the unknown. and our inability to fight it.
The Washington Post has a fantastic article with four visualizations as to how these things spread, and how different containment attempts impact it, if you haven’t seen it, take time to check it out. This is not something we need to panic over, but we do need to be proactive. If traveling anywhere, particularly if going on mass transit like planes, you need to keep yourself away from people for a while when you come home, the recommendation is two weeks. You may have been in an area without any reports of infection, but you don’t know where everyone else has been, or what you may have touched during travel. The potential for infecting people before symptoms show is more significant than we want to admit. Again, this social distancing isn’t in panic, and it’s not unreasonable, it is to help protect friends and family from contracting a virus you might not realize you have.
We need to remain aware of where people have been too. It is just as much our responsibility to stay away from people who have been somewhere as it is there’s to stay away from people who haven’t gone anywhere. What may seem like dramatic measures today could be the thing that shortens the timeframe of this. We could be back to a semblance of normal in 8 weeks or 24; the faster we curb the spread, the more minimal the impact to all. As Tiah keeps reminding me, my lungs aren’t completely back from chemo’s effects, so I could be considered at more risk than most my age. Because of that, I need to be extra cautious in who I am around.
This is a stressful time for churches, first because of all the decisions related to continuing services, but also because weekly giving will inevitably go down, and so many are already operating on a tight budget. Support your pastors and churches. Keep them in prayer, continue your giving, and participate however you can, as many will continue to stream online. If you are in a small church and need some help navigating that option, check out the ongoing series of posts at John Galt Productions for a brief guide to get pointed in the right direction. I’m available to listen to your specific situations and help you determine what you might need to start your live stream.
This is also a tremendous opportunity for the church. There is a well-earned reputation that churches are often behind the curve, and the ability to effectively connect with people online is one of them. Many have been resisting the need to figure out discipleship in a digital world, this is a trial by fire to reinvent how we reach people not entering the church building.
The traditional worship service will likely look different. Rather than broadcasting a service designed for people in a room, we’re now looking at the primary audience sitting in living rooms around a TV, or on phones or tablets. There are so many unknowns: what should worship look like, how long is an effective sermon, what creative media needs to be used, how do people interact? The answer is probably a lot deeper than trimming overall service length, it probably leans more into extended planning of the service, weeks in advance, with more of the church staff involved than is typical. New video elements don’t pull together well in a week’s time, a significant change in corporate worship when everyone is remote will have a lot of bumps as you figure out what doesn’t work and what does.
Ultimately, before this period is over, I anticipate video will remain the central force as the church reaches out, but the format will look a lot different. As the need for social distancing becomes more critical, a variety of people will record videos if different locations, sending them to someone to edit together for the distributed service. Small groups will interact with this service. Thinking ahead can allow small groups to interact around a live service through a variety of mediums. I’m excited to see what the church learns in this period.
Supper is waiting, and I’m hungry, so we’ll wrap this up here. I hope you have continued thoughts you can share in the comments below. What are your ideas for how the church reaches people in a time of social distancing? What steps have you taken to keep yourself and others protected from COVID-19? In the words of our governor, let’s be #NorthDakotaSmart.