2 Critical Steps to Reaching Your Community in a Post-Covid World
I have just ordered the book “Post-Quarantine Church” by Thom Rainer for about 20 pastors. Just the title of the book seems to encourage us. We are all looking forward to getting past this. We want to be “post” COVID, “post” isolation, “post” mask, “post” illness, “post” everything negative that has come as a result of COVID.
The reality is that we are still a “Mid-Quarantine Church.” I’m sure no one has written that book because we all thought falsely that this strange experience will be over before we know it. Man, where are we wrong. I am still fighting the idea in my head that this spring or this summer we will be past this.
If this was eschatology we would all be “mid-trib.” We are still somewhere in the middle of this. 12 months in and we may be seeing light at the end of the tunnel!
What does this mean for outreach in your community?
For most ministries, the outreach that they engaged in “pre-quarantine” stopped and never returned or it was completely modified. Our volunteer pools shrank, maybe resources disappeared or were diverted. We feel uncertain, even awkward about engaging people in outreach, not sure if it is safe, not sure if it is even the right thing to do right now.
Pastor, it is now time to move forward into the future. Are you with me? It has been nearly 12 months and we need to reorient ourselves back to the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.
I am not suggesting there is a switch to flip and we will go back to normal. I don’t believe that if we merely did what we were doing before that we will have the same impact. People have changed, our communities have changed and even our churches have changed.
What I am suggesting, is that you take the following two steps to get ready for outreach ministry in a post-quarantine world.
1. Think like a Missionary
Start over from scratch. If you were ever going to do something different or rethink something altogether, now is the time like never before. Do a do over. Hit reset. Rethink outreach.
Now, if you start from scratch and you end up at the same place, so be it. But start from ground zero. Take this opportunity as a blessing from God to blow up what wasn’t working, what was off mission and rethink outreach and ministries.
Understand that you don’t know some things. A missionary is going to study their community. Start asking questions of the people in your community like “Who are these people?” “What do they like?” “What do they believe?” “What are their needs?” “What are their behaviors?”
One of the best ways to answer these questions is through a detailed Demographic and Psychographic report. Our ministry has access to a report specifically designed for ministries and we are trained to use the report to propose outreach and ministry opportunities that are tailored just for your community. Contact us if we can help you with this report!
2. Plan Your Next Steps for Outreach Now.
Once you have a fresh perspective of who your community is, you can begin eliminating the things you did previously that were not impacting your community. Be honest and make the hard decisions now. It is only going to be more difficult if you resurrect ministries you have to kill later on.
Don’t make the mistake of never killing a ministry and always adding new things into the mix. Even good outreach ideas will be doomed if they are competing with lesser ideas for volunteers, time and resources.
What will you start doing? What are you and your people burdened about? What connections do people in your church have with the community? What jumps off the page in your customized demographic and psychographic report?
One church noticed they had an unusually high number of single mothers, so they shifted their focus there. Another ministry saw an increasing number of people with disabilities and they launched outreach in that direction.
Does your report show that your community is wild about health and fitness? Consider sports related outreach and community groups.
Is the population growing with people that need to learn English? Move in that direction.
The possibilities are endless. The key is to get to know your community as it is now, not as it was 5 or 10 years ago.
If we can help you with a customized demographic and psychographic report for your community, please call on us. We specialize in helping the church connect with the community with the gospel in mind.