How do I facilitate fellowship during this pandemic?

Facilitating community and also helping to limit public interaction have an obvious, built-in tension.  This is primarily why leading in this season is so difficult. Plus, you need to navigate the restrictions in your given country, state, and county (yes, those restrictions should agree -but that’s another conversation, right? 😊).

We’ve had to realize that we aren’t able to do one thing that facilitates community for everyone. But rather, we can look at people’s comfort level and offer something that connects with them, in a way that they can access. In our ministries, we’ve broken people down into groups by their comfortability with interacting and then tried to do something that allows the people in those groups to connect, making sure that the leader not always the “hub” of that interaction.

I crowd-sourced this list from our fantastic staff team that works everyday with Kids, Men’s Ministries, Women’s Ministries, Life Groups, Worship, Guest Services, Outreach, and Communications. They are rock stars and have shared what is working in their ministries to facilitate connections among their people. Think about adapting one of these ideas to your people and your context.

  1. Meet at restaurants – they don’t seem to be practicing the “no more than 2 households” rule
  2. Personal Lunches – We are breaking our leaders into 4-5 women and taking them to lunch. It keeps it small and personal.
  3. Walks – I do prayer walks with people around the outside of our building all of the time. People miss coming to their actual church building – and there’s something comforting when they do. We connect, we pray and we exercise. Win-win-win.
  4. Caroling – gather some families, staff, or Life Groups to visit nursing homes and sing around OUTSIDE the facility, stopping at windows, especially windows to the cafeteria or gathering rooms. Make sure you get permission ahead of time. If you make it clear you want to stay outside, they are very eager to be able to do something to lift their residents’ spirits. Take sleigh bells to add to the excitement!
  5. Marco Polo – so you can see faces but are not restricted by aligning everyone’s schedules
  6. Personal Notes – a Thanksgiving card or Christmas card.
  7. Treat Delivery – A Life Group leader drove around to her Zoom small group and delivered pumpkin bread to them. Drop it off or stick around and say hi and pray with them.
  8. Treat for a Date Night – couples come to church on a day and specified time slot (say Sunday afternoon 3-3:30) to pick up a treat from their group leader (pastry, coffee drink, sonic drink, a book) and they get a hello and a treat for a date
  9. Ding Dong Drop Off Night – a group text or email is sent out that gives the alert to a Ding Dong Drop Off. Goodie bags are delivered and then a zoom session later with everyone opening their goodie bags together. Visit via zoom…
  10. Zoom Game Night – the groups play games on Zoom. There are online formats for family feud, jeopardy, or make your own game.
  11. Drive In Movie Night – just need a screen, projector and speaker. Bring own snacks, sit together as couple/families, then spread out 6 feet between couples (get creative with portable heaters/fire pits for cold nights)
  12. Young Moms – We have encouraged our moms to REALLY think out of the box for spots that they can still meet in public places that are inside with the colder weather coming like some Starbucks/Coffee shops allow people to meet inside, Target Starbucks has seating areas and they could do a fun scavenger hunt for snacks, Mall Food courts etc. The other thing for our leaders that is nice is that this forces everyone to were masks versus having the argument of who wants to wear one and who doesn’t.
  13. Prayer Partners via Zoom – Break Zoom groups into groups of 2 to be each other’s prayer partner during that week. The pairs would contact each other during the week and check in with one another.
  14. Individual Requests for Prayer – Seems obvious but a good reminder. Emailing each person directly and ask for a prayer request this has been so appreciated and allowed people to share on a more personal level versus sharing with a group or in a public forum. Follow up by texting your actual prayer to them. Paul wrote down his prayers for those he led – it’s a good idea.
  15. Zoom Pre/Post Meeting Connect – make yourself available 15 minutes before the call and 15 minutes after for anyone who wants to talk, get everyone to share one special thing about themselves each week like something in their house that represents how they are feeling today.