Pastoral care may look different these days, but it is more needed now than ever before. Since Easter is a time where more visitors are attending church, we must not let anyone slip through the cracks. However, we also want to be sure that we are taking care of our church members and communities as well.
If you’re looking for ways to follow up with and care for your visitors, members, and community, we encourage you to check out these strategies:
With church being online, our usual strategy for retention may not be applicable, so here are a few suggestions on caring for first-time guests:
Engage with them through streaming platforms. If you’re on a streaming platform that utilizes a chat room or comments, be on the lookout for people who say it’s their first time attending. If you see someone who’s a first-time guest, respond to their comment and welcome them to church!
Send them a letter. Highlands uses a “hassle-free guarantee” for first-time guests, meaning that a team member won’t call them or visit them. However, touching base with a guest after they attend for the first time is crucial, so we suggest contacting them in a non-invasive format like an email or mailed letter.
It is also equally important to follow up with anyone who made a decision to follow Christ, regardless if they’re a visitor or not. We suggest using the above guidelines when contacting these people as well, as they’re probably newer to the church. To see an example of a salvation mailing letter that Highlands is currently using, click here.
Your Church Members
While reaching out to visitors is essential, what’s even more important is taking care of the people who call your church home. Below are a few suggestions for how to best contact and serve your church members during this time:
1. Utilize your team. Don’t try to tackle this task alone. Divide up the task of calling members between yourself and your core team, and even utilize high-level volunteers and Small Group leaders to reach out to their teams and attendees.
2. Set a plan. We encourage you to determine the following before you contact members:
Who you’re calling. When it comes to COVID-19 calls, we suggest calling every member 65 and older, as well as those who you know are in higher-risk categories. However, now is a good time to begin checking in on all of your members as well, regardless if they’re at risk of COVID-19 or not.
Click here for a resource from the Highlands team on Assigning Calls Relationally.
Why you’re calling them. We encourage you to have a script or talking points ready for people when they call. Below are some talking points that Highlands provided its staff members and Dream Team:
Introduce Yourself: Give them your name, your role on staff (including campus), and ask if this is a good time to talk.
Ask Questions: Find out a) how they are doing and b) if they know the various ways to stay connected to church from home (online services, online Small Groups, etc.).
Pray: Ask how you can pray for them (make a note of needs that they talk about).
Respond: Please let the person know that you’re making a note of their need(s), and our team will see how we can respond to it.
Share: Share your church’s direct ministry line and email address so that they can reach out if any other needs arise.
What you’ll do next. Have a system in place to track who has been contacted and what needs they have. Once you find a need in your congregation, your team can then find a way to meet it.
3. Prioritize member needs.
Your members are the people who serve, give, and attend faithfully, and now, we have an opportunity to serve, give, and tend to their needs. We understand that manpower and resources are scarce right now, so we encourage you to utilize what you have to help meet your church members’ needs first and foremost.
Even though focusing on individuals is important, as the Church, we are still called to take care of and serve our communities as well. Below are some tips for caring for your community during this time:
Find what you can do. We encourage you to be in contact with your local government authorities to find what needs are in your community. This is a great time to help schools, police departments, healthcare workers, and more.
Encourage volunteers to serve where they are. While your volunteers may not be able to gather or serve like they were able to in weeks past, still encourage them to find ways to serve where they are. Their serve may look like cooking dinner for their neighbors, joining the prayer team, or being a member of the call team. Even though we cannot serve together, we can still mobilize our church members and volunteers to serve in their homes and neighborhoods!
These are just a few suggestions on how to take care of your visitors, members, and community during this time. We encourage you to be creative and find unique ways to serve, as you know what the people around you need better than anyone else.
If you’ve had pastoral care or outreach success using one of the above methods or something completely different, we want to know! Share your ideas with us, and we’ll celebrate with you!