By CTA - Christ to All
As the Pandemic swept into the United States in March of 2020, so much of how we do life has changed that it’s easy to get caught up in focusing on the changes and harder to see the constants. In a recent social poll, conducted by Barna, four relational stresses were found to have been intensified by the closures and other isolation needs created by COVID-19. All of them were present prior to the pandemic, but the escalation of these issues presents a unique challenge to society as a whole and the church in particular:
Mental health issues of anxiety and depression are increasing across all age groups
According to the Barna Poll, 42% of adults say anxiety has a negative impact on their most important relationships and 39% of adults say depression has a negative impact on their most important relationships.
“Loneliness Epidemic“ exists across all ages 18+
Loneliness is accelerating depression and anxiety as well as drug, alcohol and internet addiction, pornography, and other relational problems.
Relationships are straining under new pressures
Marriages are straining. Barna reports that 25% of practicing Christians say that marital problems negatively impact their lives.
Addictions have deepened
It’s no surprise that addictions or abuse will only be exaggerated in isolation. Many of the support networks have been unable to meet in person, removing needed support infrastructure.
Bringing hope into the homes of your congregation families is going to look a bit different than it has in years past because so much less of it can be done in person. How can your ministry reach people they can’t see on a regular basis? The answer to that question will continue to evolve over time, but here are two things that have consistently been successful in combating these four areas of decline:
- Redeploy some of your volunteers into care and connection teams. Assign them families to be in touch with weekly and ensure these objectives are being met:
- Regular Connection - Your people need to be cared for on a regular basis—with support they can count on and with a resource to reach out to that isn’t exclusively the ministry staff.
- A mix of communication styles - Start with a phone call so the personal connection is established, and other forms of communication can be discussed (email address, texting, etc.). These are relationship groups, not check-in appointments, so choose volunteers who have a natural ability to connect or mentor people.
- Prayer teams lifting up each member and family in the congregation on a rotating basis.