COVID has brought many challenges to staying connected, and it can be especially difficult for churches to engage with members who don’t have internet or are uncomfortable with technology, social media, or smartphones. Often those groups include seniors or lower income individuals and families. But with a little creativity, personal touch, and, in some cases, old-school outreach methods, you can keep connected with all your members. Here are a few pandemic-friendly tips to help engage even your low-tech members.
1. Make Phone Calls
Remember when a phone was used to talk to people? That may still be its primary use for your older members. Divide up a list among your pastoral staff, ministry care team, or other volunteers to give a quick ring and check in with members. You don’t have to talk long, but see how they’re doing and offer to pray with and for them. Hearing these individual needs can help guide your other efforts for service and outreach.
2. Use Snail Mail
A simple handwritten note goes a long way with a personal touch, and direct mail is still a highly effective outreach and communication tool. You don’t have to start from scratch. You can use these Church Postcards and simply add a quick note. Also, print and mail a weekly or monthly newsletter to at least a portion of your membership, if you’re not already. Just give a quick edit to your email newsletter to adjust or spell out any links or digital ties for the print format.
3. Make Socially Distanced Visits
Connect families who want to serve, and give them an address or two where they can spread some encouragement. Kids might make colorful chalk drawings on driveways or sidewalks. Sing a few songs or Christmas carols as the holidays approach. And leave a DoorHanger with a note.
Or download and print out the new free ReDiscover Christmas Advent Reading Plan – this new 30-day plan provides scripture and daily devotions to help remind people about the joy, peace, love and hope found in the Christmas story. Drop the print out in the mail or leave it at the door so your low tech members can read along during the holiday season.
Just be sure to follow local health protocols and social distance guidelines, especially when visiting elderly members’ homes
4. Get Out and Serve
Raking leaves. Shoveling snow. Repairing a broken mailbox. Lending a practical helping hand speaks volumes of care and can make a perfect personal connecting point for single mothers, seniors, or families dealing with disability, health or financial problems. A family or youth group cohort could spend a few hours doing some helpful socially distanced service. Consider leaving a Yard Sign to reach out to neighbors and let them know your church is there for them too.
5. Burn Discs
There was a day when sermons and worship services were distributed by CD or, gasp!, cassette tape. And some seniors may have missed the audio or video livestream revolution. Consider burning CDs or DVDs to mail or deliver to your older population. Depending on the size of your congregation, you’re probably looking at small numbers and small costs to keep this segment of your population in touch and engaged.
6. Offer Tech Support
Sometimes non-digital natives just need a little more explanation. Consider having a knowledgeable and patient member of your AV or tech ministries team walk through the process of accessing your worship service livestream. Start with a postcard mailing or phone call outreach to ask if people need help connecting with your church digitally. Then have your tech rep follow up.
7. Deliver Care Packages
Whether it’s church staff, families, youth group students, or pastors, drop off gift baskets of basic supplies from your food pantry or food drive. The pandemic has hit hard economically for many. Even a simple package can be an extreme blessing to show that your church truly cares.
8. Host a Pop-Up Neighborhood Worship Concert
Take a small group from your worship team or youth group to the people. If a number of members live in the same neighborhood, you might set up in a local park. If there’s a retirement community or nursing home where your members live, set up on the lawn or parking lot. Or just go door to door—or lawn to lawn—with a guitar. You don’t want to attract too big a crowd to honor social distancing, but you’re sure to attract the attention of neighbors while also personally connecting with your harder-to-reach members.