How do you lead your church through a global pandemic that promises to hit very close to home?
We are in uncharted territory!
One thing we know for sure is that how we communicate to our congregation, the staff, and our community is of the highest importance.
These three principles will help you know you’re on the right track as you communicate with your church. I’ve included the emails that I’m sending to my church as examples. Feel free to use any part of them that fit your church and circumstances.
1. Communicate with your congregation often and in multiple channels.
The most popular channels are email and Facebook. Use both, and throw in Instagram or Twitter if your people hang out there.
I recommend an all-church email twice a week at least.
You can post on social media every day. I’m starting to do a daily devotional in our Facebook Friends group so people who want to can get a word of faith and hope from me every day.
2. Equip your staff and key leaders to spread the word.
Ensure that key leaders know the details and facts, and empower them to get the word out through their networks of relationships.
Some of your leaders may become sick, so multiple people equipped to communicate will help cover the gaps.
3. Have a dedicated webpage.
Things are moving so fast it will help to have accurate and up-to-date information in one place where anyone can access it.
We’re using our homepage so it’s impossible to miss. There’s a video from me, information about services and Life groups, a place to request help, and a place to volunteer to help.
The emails I’ve written to my church follow. The most recent communications are at the top of the page, going back in time as you scroll down the page.
What I Told my Church About our Response to the Coronavirus the Week of March 23
Here’s the video we posted on the home page of our website.
What I Told my Church About our Response to the Coronavirus the Week of March 16
All-Church Email on Friday, March 20
I hope you don’t feel I’m over communicating these days. With our “shelter in place” mandate, I don’t want anyone to get lost or isolated. And I don’t want anyone to be uninformed or discouraged. So, here’s some practical “New Song News” for you.
1. Tonight (Friday, 6 to 6:30p), we’re having a prayer meeting on New Song Friends on Facebook. https://www.
2. We are holding 6 Weekend Online Services. – 5 and 7 p.m. Saturday, 7, 9, 11a.m. and 1p.m. Sunday. Singing, worshiping, and seeing familiar faces is going to be important for you during this time of cloister. And I believe the message will encourage you very much. Join at www.newsongchurch.com. You might want to invite some friends to join us too. This may be a time when they need what the Lord has to offer.
3. I am actively trying to ensure that no one gets lost, isolated, lonely, or uncared for. So I am trying to enlist 100+ Care Connectors.What’s a Care Connector? Someone who is willing to adopt 6 other New Songers and contact them every week. Would you be willing to do this? If so, please email my assistant, Dee@newsongchurch.
If you have a need today, please email me. I can’t promise I’ll be able to respond to all needs, but I will try to find someone who can. If you have a prayer request, please come and post it on https://www.facebook.com/
Know that I love you, and am praying for your physical, mental, and spiritual health daily.
All-Church Email on Tuesday, March 17
Hey New Song!
I appreciate your prayers for wisdom, as right now the staff and board and I are making dozens of decisions about how New Song can care for and encourage our members, and how, as a church, we can minister to our community.
We hope to formalize many of our plans in the next 24 hours. Here’s a preview for now:
1. We’ll be switching to Online Services for the next several weeks. Starting this weekend (March 21), you can attend Church Online at 5 or 7 p.m. Saturday; or 7, 9, 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Sunday at www.newsongchurch.com.
To keep the feel of family, we’ll begin to include some interactions and church family stories, along with worship and the message.
2. We’ll also be offering excellent online engagement and growth opportunities for Mosaic Youth and Promiseland Kids.
3. Life Groups will be suspended, or moving to online platforms, such as FaceTime, Zoom, or Skype.
4. We’ll be setting up a “Care Calling” network so that every New Songer gets a care call at least once a week. (If you’d like to be a care caller and volunteer to call 5-6 New Songers each week, please contact my assistant.)
5. This Friday night’s Easter Prayer Meeting has been changed to a Prayer Night for our Nation and World.
It will be held from 6 to 6:30 p.m. online. We don’t know what platform we’ll use yet. I should know and announce it on our website on Thursday afternoon.
6. We want to strengthen our bonds with the Lord and each other during this time, so starting tomorrow, I will be emailing the whole church a daily word of encouragement.
The email will include updates and encouraging Scriptures as we continue to march toward Easter and the Cross. I will also be posting updates and encouragement on our New Song Friends Facebook page.
If you’re not yet part of New Song Friends, I hope you’ll ask to be included in the group. Go to Facebook and in the blank box in the upper left, type in New Song Friends. When you get to the site, request admission. When the question comes up, “How long have you been part of New Song,” answer it. We’ll approve you as soon as possible after that and you can begin interacting with the New Song Family there.
7. We’ve changed the church’s home page (www.newsongchurch.com) to give you updates AND to give you a chance to volunteer, check-in, and several other interactive things. You can go there now and see a video we just posted.
8. Yesterday, Lori printed notes that read,
We wanted to touch base and let you know
that we are happy to help if you need anything
during the coronavirus.
Just give us a call,
Hal and Lori Seed
She taped each note to a box of Kleenex, and either left it on the doorstep if no one was home, or gave it directly to the neighbors who answered their doors. Within hours, we received a text saying, “Thank you so much for being willing to care for my aunt during this difficult time!”
I’m hoping 1,000 New Songers will bless their neighbors in some way this week.
I’m praying for you!
What I Told my Church About our Response to the Coronavirus the Week of March 9
Facebook Post on New Song Friends Page, Sunday Night, March 15
Hey New Song Friends,
As government directives continue to issue new requests and guidelines for Coronavirus containment, we will need to continue to respond and adapt accordingly. Our staff will huddle Tuesday morning (3/17) and I (Hal) will issue an update on our plans soon thereafter.
Meanwhile, pray for our church, cities, and leaders; avoid worrying by trusting in God’s goodness; and do what you can to protect our most vulnerable members (which are those over 60 and those with health concerns.) I’m thinking of asking as many as possible to become “phone caregivers,” by adopting 5-6 other New Songers and checking on them once or twice a week. I’ll get back to you on this.
I love you all! Hal
All-Church Email on Friday, March 13
Dear Church Family,
I’m sure every New Songer is as concerned as I am about the Coronavirus and its effects on our lives, families, friends, and church, so I wanted to write you all my thoughts, and what we’ll be doing over these next few weeks.
First, we’ll be adapting with the news. Things changed drastically over the last 36 hours. We’ll continue to pay attention to new developments and directives from the government and respond accordingly. In other words, what I’m writing you at this very moment could change very soon. It’s part of the excitement of life: we get to respond to new situations all the time.
Two major changes that happened yesterday were the major sports leagues shutting down and the state and county issuing directives to cancel all gatherings of 250 and above.
How should we respond? With caution and wisdom.
Last weekend, many people had already begun staying home, so none of our services had more than 250 people in them. This weekend, we expect the same. We’ll count carefully. In the unlikely event more than 250 come to any one service, we’ll open the back café area and seat the extras there.
One of the cautions we were given was to practice “social distancing.” Fortunately, our auditorium seats 600, so with 250 or less, we should be able to maintain some distance between everyone. If you come this weekend, you’re welcome to sit next to your spouse, and perhaps a friend or two, but you may want to spread out and sample less-used back areas and keep some space between yourself and others.
Second, this virus is more dangerous for some than others. Most fatalities have happened to people over 70, and those with respiratory or health issues. If you fall into one of those categories, you should consider worshiping with us online for the next few weeks.
To our knowledge, no children have yet been affected by the virus. Hopefully, they’ll be impervious.
Third, experts believe that a large percentage of us will eventually catch the virus. This is the reality of an epidemic. With no current cure or preventative vaccine, governments are doing their best to “flatten the reproductive rate,” so as not to overwhelm medical workers, and delay as many infections as possible until we have better treatments in place.
To explain this, I’ll paste a few paragraphs from a news magazine about it to the end of this email for you.
Fourth, the last thing any of us would want is to let a virus damage our spiritual growth or distance us from God. This is an important time for all of us to walk closely with the Lord. Don’t let panic keep you from praying. Don’t let worry keep you from reading God’s Word. Don’t let the fear of a virus keep you from loving your neighbor.
Throughout history, Christianity has grown the most when the times were darkest. Our opportunity is this: people are social beings. We like getting together. For the next few weeks, no one will have major events to attend. So, as long as we are safe and healthy, these next few weeks might be a good time to invite a friend to play games or chat at your house. This could be a strategic time to build or deepen friendships with your neighbors.
Like Esther, who knows, perhaps we were put where we are, for such a time as this?
Fifth, the virus might not be as bad in San Diego as it will be in colder parts of the country. The article I’ve included says most viruses “thrive in cold and humid air.” We’re one of the warmest regions of the country. Once these storms pass, we’ll go back to being arid as well.
Sixth, Jesus will never leave us or forsake us. Some of us may suffer a bit during these next few weeks, but we’ll never be without the awareness, love, and care of our Savior. Have faith and choose hope. The Lord wants to redeem this crisis and use it for good!
OUR PLANS, FOR NOW:
We’ll continue to meet for worship on weekends, making sure our assemblies stay below the 250 level. We’re sanitizing all high-touch surfaces at the church. If you can, wave at people rather than touch.
I encourage young and healthy people to attend, I encourage “older people” and those with health challenges to consider worshiping with us online. The service starts at 11 a.m. at www.newsongchurch.com.
Click the link at 10:45 a.m. or later and you’ll see a pop-up that will guide you to the service. Please check into the chatroom, so you can participate with other on-liners, rather than just “spectate.”
I hope those of us who are healthy will continue to meet with our Life Groups. Use wisdom and discretion, but don’t shrink back in fear.
We’ll continue to stay flexible. We’ll pray. And let’s help each other, and care for our neighbors who may have concerns or questions during this time.
Some trust in chariots, others in horse, but we want to continue to trust in the name of the Lord our God. Let’s rise above this situation, in faith!
I love you and am praying for you!
From The Economist:
The course of an epidemic is shaped by a variable called the reproductive rate, or R. It represents, in effect, the number of further cases each new case will give rise to. If R is high, the number of newly infected people climbs quickly to a peak before, for want of new people to infect, starting to fall back again (see chart 2). If R is low the curve rises and falls more slowly, never reaching the same heights. With sars-cov-2 now spread around the world, the aim of public-health policy, whether at the city, national or global scale, is to flatten the curve, spreading the infections out over time.
This has two benefits. First, it is easier for health-care systems to deal with the disease if the people infected do not all turn up at the same time. Better treatment means fewer deaths; more time allows treatments to be improved. Second, the total number of infections throughout the course of the epidemic can be lower.
To flatten the curve you must slow the spread. The virus appears to be transmitted primarily through virus-filled droplets that infected people cough or sneeze into the air. This means transmission can be reduced through physical barriers, good hygiene and reducing various forms of mingle—a strategy known as “social distancing”. Such measures are already routinely used to control the spread of the influenza virus, which spreads in a similar way and is responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths a year.
Influenza, like many other respiratory diseases, thrives in cold and humid air. If covid-19 behaves the same way, spreading less as the weather gets warmer and drier, flattening the curve will bring an extra benefit. As winter turns to spring then summer, the reproductive rate will drop of its own accord. Dragging out the early stage of the pandemic means fewer deaths before the summer hiatus provides time to stockpile treatments and develop new drugs and vaccines—efforts towards both of which are already under way.
Click here For the graph and full article/
All-Church Email on Wednesday, March 11
I wanted to give you my thoughts on the coronavirus, and how it may affect us all over the next few weeks or months.
The Coronavirus (Covid-19) is like a cold, in that it is infectious, spread from person to person, and there is no cure or vaccine currently, and wont’ be at least until mid 2021.
It is likely, therefore, that most of us will catch it at some point. Those at greatest risk are the elderly (over 70), and those with respiratory problems.
Having said all of that, I am not worried or scared of the virus. Christians have often experienced their greatest moments when there are threats and dangers. If we respond well to this crisis, it could be our finest hour.
One reason the church grew so rapidly in the early centuries was because during plagues, pagans would abandon their sick relatives, and Christians would take them in and nurse them back to health. While many Christians died while serving their neighbors, those they served became Christ-followers in large numbers. So, if we respond in faith towards God and love towards hurting people during this season, it could be our finest hour as a people.
In the likelihood that the virus comes to North County, we can expect that the government will shut down or encourage the postponement of some or all public meetings.
How will we respond to this?
- The gathering together of the people of God for worship, edification, and mutual encouragement is a high priority. In God’s eyes (and mine), it’s more important than business or schooling or recreational gatherings. So, if allowed, we will continue to hold our weekend services and encourage everyone to “assemble together” (Heb. 10:24), unless you have signs of being sick. Then, we’ll encourage you to stay home and worship with us online.
- Our Group Life and other meetings are important, but not imperative, so should the virus become prevalent, we’ll encourage you to postpone non-essential meetings, and do as much as possible through online meetings (using group meeting apps like Zoom or Facetime to get together via the internet).
- We all will need to continue our good stewardship; and our mortgage, insurance, salaries, missionaries, etc. will still need funding, so I will encourage you all to continue to tithe via our online link.
- In the event that churches are asked to temporarily cancel weekend services we will do our best to conduct and streamline our online 11 a.m. Sunday service, and make sure you get a link so you can join us there.
During the week of wildfires in 2007, New Song sheltered 790 people in our building. We fed them, provided clothes, kenneled their pets, and held worship services 5 consecutive evenings. 94 people came to Christ. It was our finest week of ministry. Congressman Issa gave us a commendation letter; Governor Schwartzeneger sent his personal representative to thank us; and Mayor Wood visited our weekend services and thanked us in person. The Red Cross representative told me we were the best shelter in the county.
Should Covid-19 visit us, I’m confident New Songers will rise above it, and serve as a city on a hill for our friends and neighbors.
Some trust in chariots, others in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God… We rise and stand firm! (Ps. 20:7-8).
God’s peace and protection upon you!
I hope I’ll see you this weekend!
This is our time to shine, Church Leader!
Let’s communicate well, and let’s lead the Church to bring Christ to a desperate world.
Check back to get updates as the crisis unfolds about how to talk your church through the coronavirus.