Section 1: Here are some ideas for pastors whose congregants do not have regular access to the internet, and people cannot leave their home.
1. Call everyone on phone
Pastors and prayerful church leaders can call or text the phones of congregants every 1-3 weeks. If that means buying phone credit to call them, it will be worthwhile. Compile and circulate requests for prayers. A pastor or prayer team leader can also invite members to text or call a designated phone as they need prayer. Once the pastor or prayer team prays (perhaps over a conference call or Zoom call), then a prayer team leader can send a message saying, “We’ve prayed for you.”
2. Pair congregants to call each other.
When you call them on the phone, you may also want to pair each household of the congregation with another household as prayer partners, to pray for each other and share what their families have learned from Scripture, and found ways to care for their neighbors. Some churches have home fellowships to contact each other, but those not in fellowships should be paired.
3. Send texts via SMS.
You can send them texts. This can only be supplemental to other ways to communicate. If they have at least low bandwidth internet, you could also record audio messages and send them via Whatsapp or SMS.
4. Deliver microSD cards
Mail microSD cards inside a seasonal folded gift card, or deliver in person. If recipients have phone, then you could transfer previously recorded audio or video messages on a microSD card. Assign them media to hear or watch each week, and then call them at regular time each week to pray with them and review what they learned. Bible-related media in your language can be requested from here.
5. Deliver CD or cassette tape.
If all members have a CD player or audio cassette player, you can record a new sermon and mail or deliver it, or have everyone listen to a series of old ones. Then you can do the conference call over the phone to ask people for their observations, applications of the Scripture passage/points, and pray together. You could do the same if all members can play mp3 files. If you just have one person, you could upload the sermon mp3 here for a company to ship.
6. Help them order Bible or Christian media.
Help them order Bibles or Christian media or books from online stores. In some cases, they might need to be shipped cash-on-delivery.
7. Assign radio sermon, then phone them
Assign people to listen to a Christian broadcast on radio. Then call them regularly to hear their observations and application of message. In some cases, several churches can combine funds to purchase a weekly10-minute spot for sermon on local radio station (even secular) on any day of the week. Then you can spread the word that folks without internet (or anyone else) can tune in.
8. Phone conference call
Set up a phone conference call at regular time. During that, everyone can pray and hear a brief Scripture message. Once you sign up for an account, it will give you a phone number and code for your church members to call. During that, you can share your Scripture message and pray.
Section 2: Here are some ideas for pastors whose congregants do not have regular access to internet, and people who can leave their homes(and are not under tight quarantine).
- Pastor and team visits congregation
Visit your congregation house-to-house, and take walks through neighborhoods to meet new people. Keeping a 6ft (2m) distance, meet with between 2 to 10 of your most qualified leaders that have time. Within a few meetings, train them to also meet with others. Training these volunteers to listen for potential problems, and call weekly to check on the mental, spiritual, and physical wellbeing of church members. Offer phone and email support along the way. Read more. People will likely be more receptive to a visit (as long as its safe and socially-distant) than they were before the pandemic. Recipients in poverty may need food delivered. 1 In some Christian traditions, they might even take communion at same time, while staying far enough away and not sharing items that have been touched by each other.
2. Arrange for apartment dwellers to invite you for children’s program
“Many in Kenya do not have access to church services online, he said…The man who calls himself a “children’s preacher” calls out Bible lessons between songs.” …“But I also think this is the greatest opportunity that has ever arisen to the church, reason being we have got reason to go out on the streets. … Jesus sometimes would go to the temple, but his main ministry was out in the fields, out in the streets,” he added. https://journalgazette.net/news/world/20200524/Preacher-takes-to-street-to-bring-church-to-people
2. Congregation visits pastor or team
Invite your members of your congregation to come to receive individual prayer during a certain time slot. This can be with a pastor or deacon. (sample)
3. Schedule one family meets another with social distancing
You could ask and schedule a family to meet on the outside of the church by themselves or at the same time as one other family (maintaining social distancing). This can be scheduled at various times through the week, perhaps daily. You can post a list of prayer needs (eg.church members, community, missionaries) on the church wall. They can pray and add more prayer requests by writing them down or calling an assigned person to add the prayer request. If possible, a WiFi box could be inside the church building for people immediately outside to retrieve recent sermons and Bible media content onto their phone.
4. Schedule outdoor socially-distanced event
You could arrange for an outdoor socially-distanced event. People could be outside for a a prayer event or march, but keep a distance from each other according to government standards. (image source) For reference, here’s a socially-distant, non-church outdoor event with 2000 people. Promo sample for this method sample
5. Drive-in church meeting
Organize drive-in church meetings, where people stay in their car and listen to sermon delivered by microphone and outdoor speakers. more
6. Teach members to use the internet
Some people cannot access internet because they do not know how (or can’t afford it.) Offer to help elderly and asthmatic who may have not used online webinar services before via phone. Older members often don’t know how to access platforms and tools. It may take calling older members on the phone to get them acclimated. Offer tutorials in social media, using tools like Zoom & Skype, as well as online giving. Another tip would be to assist their family members to teach them. You may wish to pair less vulnerable members with more vulnerable members too, at minimum contact by phone. Create a community of encouragement. Develop a list of “trusted sources.” Give people links to pages, resources, communities w/updated information and are low on fear-tactics. Provide the links, not just the names of organizations. There are people who actually do not know how to “google” something. Provide online survival skills, not about ageism. Keep it as fun, informative & respectful as possible. These are folks w/ tons of life experience, often just not in technology.
For people with only low-bandwidth internet
1. Share mp3
If people are able to receive email or text, you could do the same if all members can play mp3 files. You would just need to upload the mp3 to your website or some free podcast hosting service like Anchor.fm (tutorial), SoundCloud or Clyp.it
2. Assign Bible resource websites to read or online mp3 to hear.
You can find audio or compressed video at https://5fish.mobi
Making phone calls and other methods of communication are critical because 48% of churchgoers– at least in the USA– say they have not watched any church online in the last 4 weeks, according to a recent Barna survey (source.) The steps you take to help those without internet might also help those with the internet as well