This article originally appeared on OurChurch.Com

Earlier this week President Trump extended social distancing guidelines through the end of April to try to reduce the spread of coronavirus / COVID-19.

The last time we experienced something of this magnitude was 9-11.

I remember the Sunday after 9-11 people flooded to churches. People were looking for answers, for hope, for peace.

But with social distancing guidelines in place, most in-person church gatherings are canceled for at least another month, preventing people from connecting with God and other Christians in the way they are most familiar with.

The COVID-19 pandemic makes digital church communications more impactful than ever!

Many churches are making the transition to live streaming Sunday services or posting videos of services or sermons on their website.

This is a good first step. However, not being able to participate in-person in a Sunday worship service is just the tip of the ice berg of disruptions people are experiencing right now.

First, there are the people who have tested positive, have family or friends who have tested positive, or have already lost a loved one to COVID-19. Beyond that, for all of us, most of the familiar routines we had – for work, school, shopping, exercise, socializing – have been disrupted.

Then there’s the constant drumbeat of negative news, including the ever increasing number of cases and deaths.

If you are a pastor or church communications director, there’s a good chance you are feeling stress and pressure. Not only are you dealing with disruptions in your own life, but you feel the added weight of caring for the people in your congregation.

I want to encourage you!

1) Be led by the Holy Spirit.

There are lots of people out there telling you what you “should” do. Advice can be helpful, but take everything to the Lord. Just because other churches are doing something doesn’t mean you have to. Release yourself from the burden and pressure of feeling like there are things you “have to” do. Let the Holy Spirit lead you.

2) Choose simplicity and authenticity.

Whatever God calls you to do, it doesn’t have to be perfect; it doesn’t have to be highly produced. Late night TV hosts are doing their shows from their homes often with hand-drawn signs and kids interrupting them.

3) Experiment.

This is an unprecedented opportunity to connect with people online, to point people to Jesus, to show the peace and hope we have through Him. Because everything is being disrupted, people are open to new things. We can experiment with social media, videos, email, text messages, and more. You may be surprised at how God uses these experiments. And even if they bomb, most people will appreciate the try.

4) Remember we’re in this together.

Stay connected with other leaders in your church and Christian leaders outside of your church through texts, phone calls and social media. Encourage one another and bear one another’s burdens.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. -Joshua 1:9

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