COVID-19 taskforce focuses on resources for mental health, discipleship, mission

October 26, 2020


On Sept. 28, more than 200 leaders of local church (re)Launch teams from across our conference met with the Ministry in a Time of COVID-19 taskforce to share what they have learned, needs, and ongoing concerns.
Following that meeting, the taskforce got to work collating the information which will guide their work in the coming weeks. They divided into sub-groups as several key themes emerged. Here are their findings, as well as the three priorities that will guide each sub-group’s work:
Mental Well-Being:

There is great concern for the mental health of congregations and clergy, alike. Concerns include how to maintain connection, community, and formal/informal methods of interpersonal touch, especially during approach to the holidays. Need to share what is working.
  1. Suggest the conference provide a platform for churches to share ideas: A user-friendly place where churches can upload ideas, systems that work.
  2. Pastors’ Care: Pastors In circuit/district meetings are given stress-management tools to help with their own stress and their congregants. Example: Sharing Critical Incident Stress Model’s Debriefing Model.
  3. Focus on Resiliency: Lessons, stories, tips shared on conference website.

As churches continue to offer worship and small groups virtually or by limited in-person attendance, navigating the changing landscape means adapting and seeking alternatives. Resources are already available through the general UMC and other avenues that we can access. Three areas of focus for worship and discipleship:
  1. Understanding the difference between digital and in-person worship – specific guidelines and trainings to do it effectively and safely.
  2. Focus on resources for Advent/Christmas – Anywhere Church, Worship Design Studio and UMCom.
  3. Examples of the "touch" aspect of worship, whether churches mail out liturgies and sermons, or send worship bags with elements.
  1. Assess the need: Build a mission action plan.  In conjunction with local assessments, MissionInsite provides resources.
  2. Partner and train: Strengthen relationships with local partners, churches and agencies, and identify training:
    • Mental Health First-Aid - Provide training to your congregation:
    • Connecting Neighbors prepares congregations to minimize disaster-caused harm in their local setting. Mission Newsletter - Sept. 2020
  3. Respond:  

Evangelism & Discipleship:

Churches are experiencing a radical change in how they relate to one another and their communities. The change from in-person gatherings to virtual is disorienting and stressful. As a result there are several emerging lessons:

Persons and groups are rising up in leadership. The need to have a (re)Launch plan has brought together committees devoted to addressing the immediate concerns of churches — how to relate and rejoin as a community of believers.

  1. Providing a grounding resource – #SeeAllThePeople (with free pdf tools for Online Discipleship, Cultural Sensitivity, Basics of Faith Formation)
  2. Sharing hope now! The assurance that people are not alone and tools for connecting and planting new seeds of hope
  3. Virtual and in-person ways to engage small group discipleship

The sub-groups will be working on these topics and offering resources and best practices as we enter into a new season of COVID-19. Please watch the website for new information.