Oklahoma Baptist churches know this is a time to show care and support for their respective communities. The challenge is, how can church members connect while observing social distancing?
Three churches in particular have found a way to resolve this.
Minco, First; Oklahoma City, Trinity and Purcell, First have made neighborhood cards that let people know their churches are willing to help during the COVID-19 crisis.
“Basically, it is a way to love your neighbor and be the church outside of the building,” said Brett Selby, southwest regional ministry partner for Oklahoma Baptists, who is serving as interim pastor for Purcell, First. “People are encouraged to put cards on the doors of four or five of their closest neighbors. They can safely reach out to them without violating the six-foot social distancing buffer. It also provides a way to encourage the neighbor to join them for online worship.”
Selby said he got the idea from Tobin Jackson, pastor of Oklahoma City, Trinity, and Mike Luster, pastor of Minco, First. Both of these churches have been doing the neighborhood cards for almost a week and have seen encouraging results.
“We had so many new people last week and believe it was a result of this,” Jackson said of people who have made requests for Oklahoma City, Trinity’s food pantry and other ministry services. “Several people said, ‘Somebody put a note on my door.’ We want to make sure we tell our neighbors that the church is available to help meet needs. We want to stay connected with our community.”
On the neighborhood cards, a church member can list their name, where they live and how the church can be contacted. The card mentions services the church will offer, including grocery pickup/delivery, urgent errands or supplies, mail or package pickup, daily check-ins or calls, provide a meal or prayer.
The card also features times for online worship services and how the neighbor can tune in to watch and participate.
“The best thing we can do is pray for them, and if they need something, we’ll go meet that need,” Luster said.
All of the pastors believe this can be the beginning of a great evangelistic outreach for their churches.
“We have to continue to reach out like this,” Jackson said. “People have to continue the work of being a good neighbor. We have engaged more people because of this, and it’s been an incredible benefit to those who have come back to the church or who are coming for the first time.”
Luster said he hopes the neighborhood cards will let the Minco community know his church cares for them.
“I hope, at the end of this, our community sees that First Baptist really loves Minco,” he said. “When they think about our church, that’s what they think about. Hopefully, this will open doors, even a year down the road, for opportunities for Gospel conversations.”