Connecting During Covid-19

By: Pastor Justin McVey

There’s no doubt that Covid-19 has completely changed the way we do church, but I need you to understand that:

Social distance does not mean emotional isolation.

There is nothing more important than staying connected on a deep level with the people God has called us to minister to. And so that’s what I want to do today. I want to give you three incredibly easy, super simple ways that you can connect with the people that you love so much, and care for so much. They’re going to be so easy and so simple that you can do it from your garage.

Number one is my favorite.

We’re going to go old school, on you, you won’t believe what has been the single most effective thing we’ve done to connect with people. The single most effective thing we’ve done to connect with people at Sandals Church East Valley is to call them. You thought phone calls were dead, right? The only people who call are telemarketers. Well, that was before Covid-19 hit.

Right now people are isolated and feeling alone. They want to connect with people, and they’re answering their phones. Not only are they answering, but guess what? They’re are talking. I have had amazing conversations where people have poured out their hearts; they’ve shared with me what’s going on deep within. They shared with me their struggles, their hurts, and they’ve also shared with me how they are going to help out and their desire to be part of the solution. It’s been amazing. I have had in-depth conversations with people I’ve never talked with before.

How We Did It:  We printed out our database, we divided it up among our staff members, and we began calling people. And I can’t tell you how appreciative they’ve been for us to check-in and to know that we care about them. We want to have a conversation with them. We want to hear what’s going on in their lives. Listen, if you’re worried about people answering, send a text ahead of time. Let them know who you are and why you’re calling and when you’d like to connect. They will call you back before you have a chance to make the call because people want to hear another human voice. Parents are on lockdown with their kids, and they want to have an adult conversation. I’m telling you, making phone calls, is an incredibly simple way to connect.

The second one is social media. I want to encourage you to, as you use social media, don’t just use it as a one-way means of conveying information to people. Let it be a two-way thing.

I challenge you to figure out how to use the Livestream platforms on all of the social media channels. You may need to bring some people in on your team to help you with this to watch the comments section and to reply to people. I’m telling you, people will love it. They’ll jump online. They’ll watch it. They’ll make comments and begin connecting. And don’t be stiff. That’s one of the biggest problems I see. People get nervous, and it feels like they’re teaching a class on theology at a seminary, somewhere. It’s just so stiff and rigid. Be relational.

How We Did It: Record it on the couch with your family. Don’t push them away; let them come in. If you’ve got pets, bring them in. Have your dog sit on your lap. People will love that. Maybe record in your garage or an interesting location in your home or yard. The audience will think it’s great because they will be able to see that you’re a person just like them. You’re struggling just like they are. We have to be honest and real with ourselves. We need to connect too. The great thing is that people will begin connecting through that as well. Don’t be surprised if all of a sudden, the comment string is people talking to each other and asking how they’re doing. That’s what we want.

We need people connecting on a deep level because that’s
what the church is about, it’s about family.

I want to challenge you to get creative with number three. Using online meeting platforms that allow you to connect face-to-face in live time. The one that I have loved using the most is Zoom. It’s a great platform that facilitates a lot of different people.

How We Did It: We sent a how-to sign-up email to everyone that stated the times that we’re going to be setting up these group chats. We let them know that we would love for them to sign up for a time. We told then to expect an invite with the time to log in. It’s super easy and super simple.

Make it incredibly relational. Do it while you’re prepping dinner and joke about what you’re eating. Have your kids run through once in a while, and make a mess of it. People will connect, and they will begin to share what’s going on in their lives, they’ll be open, they’ll be transparent and honest, and there will be opportunities to pray for each other.

The kids even begin to connect. Let them take over the group chat or create one for them. It’s just this beautiful, beautiful picture of what happens when families come together— that’s what we want more than anything else.

We want people to realize that social distance does not equal emotional isolation. They are still connected and loved, and a part of God’s family.

Three simple, easy ways that you can connect with your people from your garage.

One: give them a phone call
Two: set up live feeds on social media
Three: use live meeting platforms like zoom to facilitate groups of people coming together and interacting.

You won’t be sorry that you took the time to invest in this. If some of you out there may be a little hesitant with the technology, you don’t understand it, or you’ve never used it before, has so many tutorial videos. Type in what you’re looking for, and there’ll be people who can walk you through the process and teach you everything.

As pastors, it’s our job and our calling as ministers. God has put us here to care for people, connect with them, and love them. We’ve got to be creative. We have to be wise. We must find new ways to do it.

I love you, and I’m praying for you all.

Justin McVey has been in ministry for 17 years, working as a Worship Leader, Youth Specialist, and Family Pastor. He currently serves as the campus pastor at Sandals Church East Valley. Justin and his wife Heather have three awesome/crazy kids, Teagan, Terek, and Tinley. The McVey Fam currently lives in Redlands, California with their dogs Ty and Tilley. Justin loves ESPN (GO CHIEFS!!!), pizza, snowboarding, long walks on the beach and binging on Netflix. Justin is the founder of #NEVERALONE and has a passion is to reach others with a message of hope so that they can encounter the power and presence of Christ and connect with others in a meaningful way.