Serving the Church in this Fall of Social Distancing

Six feet apart, programs still on pause, and everything’s still uncertain. Is it even possible to serve the church this fall?

Yes, you can! But serving right now just may look a little different. With that in mind, here are five ways you can still serve the church in this time of social distancing:

Practice hospitality.

We were designed to live in community, and the loss of community has been one of the great losses of these last several months. For those who are comfortable doing so, practicing hospitality is a wonderful way to meet this need and show practical love towards others in our body.

This fall is a great time for us to rediscover the ministry of our front porches. I remember sitting with my grandmother on her porch or on her back patio as a child, as neighbors or family members or church members spent time with her sitting on rocking chairs out front or out back under the shade of one of her huge pecan trees. Some may not be ready to have others back inside their home, but as temperatures begin to cool down, these outdoor times together can go a long ways to helping us build community within our body. Alternatively, for those not yet ready to have people over to their homes at all, our local parks give great places to spend time outside with others. The main thing is, whether indoors or outdoors, you can serve our body by finding safe ways to spend time together with one another.

One caveat that I’ll mention more below: as we come out of several months of social distancing, let’s give grace to one another. Some may not be comfortable yet accepting an invitation to dinner, even on a porch. If that’s you, don’t feel bad declining; and if someone turns down your offer, don’t take it personally. When we do have others over, if you’re not sure of their comfort level, let me encourage you to err on the side of being cautious. We’re all coming out of this at different speeds, but giving grace to one another and practicing hospitality can help us come out of Covid with a stronger community than ever.

Consider switching services.

For us at MCBC, our designated seating areas in our 10:00 a.m. worship service are near capacity fairly regularly. Not only is this service option the most popular for our members, it is also the service time that is most likely to be chosen by guests attending on any given week.

One great way for you and your family to serve the church this fall is by choosing to attend the earlier worship service. Not only will this help us be sure that we have seats available in the 10:00 a.m. service for guests or returning members, it also allows you the opportunity to see MCBC members who attend the 8:30 service who you may have missed seeing for the past several months.

Not many of us enjoy getting up earlier, especially on a weekend morning, but this could be a great, simple way for your family to count others more significant than yourselves and serve the body at Mountain Creek this fall.

Join our cleaning team.

Since we returned into our Sanctuary on June 7, between each service every Sunday our deacons and their wives have been disinfecting our pews, doors, bathrooms, and other high touch surfaces. These men and women love serving our church, and I am incredibly grateful for each of them! But you could join in anytime you’d like to give them a well-deserved break.

If you or your family would like to help us disinfect surfaces on a Sunday morning, simply find Pastor Matt at the front of the sanctuary near the organ immediately following the 8:30 worship service.

Make some calls.

Similarly, let’s make calls. For all of us, but especially for those not yet comfortable going out to see others or having others into their homes, loving one another through phone calls is an easy way to serve the body.

One of the things we’ve missed is the simple, brief conversations in our church halls or before our worship gatherings that help us stay connected with one another. Phone calls aren’t the same thing, to be sure, but they can help us regain something of what we’ve lost here. In particular, for our seniors who have been unable to get out, this is a great way to love them well.

Think about it like this: If 25 of us made two calls per week, that’s 200 calls per month. 200 calls, within our body, helping us stay connected. 200 calls, to help us be aware of needs that we might be able to meet. 200 calls to our members, many of whom who have been much more separated from others than they’re accustomed to, reminding them that they are loved.

Give grace.

Finally, let me encourage you to give much grace. As I said above, many of us are in different places with how we think about Covid. From how we think about masks to how strict we maintain social distancing to levels of worry or concern, just like our community and society, our membership is all over the spectrum.

But that’s okay. We should expect us to have differences of opinion here, but that’s nothing to divide us. In Christ, the many have become one. That’s the church. In Romans 14 and in 1 Corinthians 8 Paul discusses what we do when we don’t see eye to eye in the church. The short answer is this: love anyway. Consider the other more significant, lay down your own preferences, and love.

This kind of love builds a church. It’s a small way for us to display the love of Christ, and a significant way for us to serve one another in this particular season of life.

Bert Watts has served since December 2016 as the Senior Pastor at Mountain Creek Baptist Church, where he has been on staff since 2012.

Photo by Phil Hearing on Unsplash