BLOG: How to Have Church During the Coronavirus

March 13, 2020 Joel Guthrie

Over the past several daysmany events, schools, colleges, and travel have either been postponed or canceled. We are all committed to doing our part to stop the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), and as church leaders, taking precautions is necessary. We talked to some pastors who have had to cancel service or move to virtual gatherings due to the virus to see how they're responding. Thankfully, with technology, we can still reach our congregations.  


We spent some time with Mark Venti, the Executive Pastor at ChurchomeThey have decided to cancel services temporarily and pursue "church at home," a digital experience where people gather in small groups to watch a service virtually. They have been creating services for their community that use the church app for the past couple of yearsso they are prepared to leverage that technology during this time.  


We asked Annie Duncan, Executive Pastor of Bellevue Presbyterian Church, about how they're responding. They are also located in a suburb of Seattle and are actively taking measures to protect their congregation.  


"We are a community that moves in faith and not fear, so this is a huge opportunity for the Church. What if we could spread the love of Jesus faster than the coronavirus? This is a time for the Church to step up, reach out, and go for it in being all in." - Annie Duncan, Bellevue Presbyterian Church.  


Annie's team is leveraging technology by moving to an online service. They've even launched a "Don't Drive to Church campaign. They are spending time on the phone helping the congregation understand how to use live-stream to watch the service. This is also a great opportunity for the leaders of the church to check in on their entire congregation. Annie's team is meeting twice a day to discuss the status of the virus in their community and abroad. On Sunday, they have volunteers at each entrance of their parking lot to greet anyone who didn't get the message to make sure they're also being cared for. 


We talked with Aaron Magnuson, the Online Pastor at ONE&ALL Church. Aaron has been active in live-stream and online church for a while, and we wanted to get his thoughts on how smaller churches can still meet if they've never done a live-streamed service.  


"If you're reading this thinking, 'But I don't have the resources to do this. Our church is too small.' - This is for you! In 2020, all you need is a laptop with a webcam, and you can run a church service online. Maybe you stream to your church's Facebook page, or a YouTube page, or even to a Facebook group you've started. You can invite people to be a part of the service so not everyone has to be in the same place. All you do is send the invite link, and they can join from their laptop or phone. Don't let the Coronavirus stop you from gathering together to worship!" - Aaron Magnuson, ONE&ALL 


Thankfully our churches are more prepared than ever to create connected online services and communities.  As Aaron mentioned, leveraging your church's Facebook page or YouTube channel is a great place to start. If your team is not comfortable managing a live-stream, you can always pre-record a video of the teaching and worship and post it to your church's website or Facebook page. We have the technology at our fingertips to allow us to still reach our congregations, even if we cannot meet in person.  


The Blackbaud Faith Solutions team is here to partner with you by supporting your congregation however we can. Blackbaud has compiled a list of resources to help the social good community prepare for and respond to impacts of the coronavirus. You can learn more here. 

About the Author

Joel Guthrie

Joel Guthrie is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at Blackbaud and the host of The Church Engagement Podcast. He grew up in the church and his family helped start a church in Colorado Springs. Since then, he has been on staff as a worship leader and youth leader at a church in Bellevue, WA. He has been working in marketing in the tech space for his entire career, servicing large tech companies such as Microsoft and Amazon. He is passionate about helping the church apply modern technology to grow and engage their communities!

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