Recruiting in a Social Distance Reality

3 min read By October 1, 2020October 9th, 2020One Comment

How Do You Play Baseball Without a Bat, Ball, or Glove?

In this new environment created by the COVID-19 pandemic, church planters are learning that the way to home plate may not begin with first base. While the aim to launch a large church remains, how they achieve this goal looks different from before. Church planters already face the unique challenge of starting a church without a permanent space, committed people, or residual income; but now, even the ability to begin accumulating these necessary resources for the launch of a new ministry has been removed.

The ARC church planting process typically begins with start-up parties to bring people together. These interest gatherings allow people to meet others who are part of the church launch, hear the vision of the church, and express their level of interest. During the pandemic when people are uncomfortable meeting together and event spaces are not available, church planters have had to be creative in connecting with others. Aaron Burke, the pastor of Radiant Church in Tampa, Florida, says we need to figure out how to “create a high-touch impact in a low-touch environment.”

To accomplish this, some have created DoorDash Dinner Parties to meet with others interested in joining their launch team. The church orders meals for everyone through a delivery service, and then they all connect on Zoom. Others have followed up one-on-one conversations by delivering small gift cards, a tangible reminder and an expression of the church’s heart.

Explaining the shift churches are making during this time, JJ Vasquez, pastor of Journey Church in Winter Springs, Florida, says: “Reach out is the new outreach.”

Casting a wider net can be accomplished by streaming your start-up party on Facebook. Those who confirm attendance receive pizza delivered to their homes. The meeting is still open to anyone who wants to attend without having to make a reservation. These are fun and engaging meetings.

You may begin your meeting with a game. Neil Greathouse, who is launching Trademark Church in Columbus, Ohio, asked everyone to “count all the times our logo is on the screen, and the winner gets free church swag.” The only catch was Neil had no idea how many times the logo was on the screen. This was a fun way to keep people engaged. Everyone who sent in a response received the free church gear.

The bases and the base paths may look different, but the principles of a large launch remain the same. Turn cold leads into warm leads. Put people first and connect with them in a low-pressure environment to measure their interest. Then follow up one-on-one to see if they are fit to join the launch team. These meetings between the church planters and those interested in taking the next step can be held online through FaceTime, Zoom, or Google Hangout.

Holding in-person weekend services is a continual problem because the spaces typically used by church planters are not available. New precautions have made it difficult for churches to launch in schools, theaters, and other shared venues.

How Do You Play Baseball Without a Bat, Ball, or Glove?

As municipal and business leaders determine the next best steps for public safety, those wanting to start new churches have been forced to wait, indefinitely, for restrictions to be lifted before they have the opportunity to gather in person.

To navigate this new reality, ARC is helping churches launch virtually. When the outbreak began, our team made an immediate pivot to find the best resources for online church and get them to pastors as quickly as possible. Our ARC Launch Team shifted its approach by reaching out weekly to our church planters and offering counsel, resources, and training to enable them to launch online.

We have also temporarily adjusted our funding model to help churches start strong online. We have consulted churches, leaders, and businesses with online streaming experiences to create essential budgets and tools needed to launch virtually. When churches cannot launch physically due to restrictions in their areas, ARC is ready to come alongside them and see their dream of planting new life-giving churches become a reality.

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