Easter Sunday: Worship and Giving in a Time of Social Distancing
COVID-19 has caused upheaval across the lifestyles of people throughout the globe. Calls for social distancing and limiting the number of people gathering in one place — along with state and city governments issuing stay-at-home orders — have drastically changed how people are worshiping during this time. Unfortunately, you’ve likely felt the effects in the difficulty of giving during COVID.
Unfortunately, many of the changes are going to carry through the Easter season as people work together to fight the virus by staying apart. But what does all this mean for Easter services and donations? Discover some tips for creating valuable worship for your congregation this Sunday as well as encouraging donors to give even if they can’t gather together.
Sunrise Services, Easter Worship and Giving During COVID
While some church leaders are continuing to gather their flocks, many are heeding government advice and mandates to stay at home. It’s a frightening and disheartening situation for many people who are used to gathering for fellowship and worship every Sunday, but this isn’t the first time congregations have remained apart in an effort to combat illness.
According to John Flanagan, a government and history instructor at Weatherford College, many churches shut down during the 1918-19 Spanish flu pandemic. That included canceling Easter celebrations and services. Instead, people opted to worship privately.
Some ways the pandemic might change Easter worship traditions in 2020 include:
- Easter crowds may not gather in the sanctuary
- Sunrise services or other special events may not draw physical crowds
- Easter egg hunts and fellowship meals might be cancelled or rescheduled
- Holy Week events, including love feasts, might be canceled or rescheduled
What Impact Could COVID-19 Have on Easter Giving?
Changes in Easter worship traditions due to COVID-19 are likely to have an impact on church budgets and financial health, especially if leadership teams take no action.
Historically, church attendance increases around 50% on Easter, and the season is a time that encourages selfless giving. After all, one of the main liturgical messages during this time is that Christ sacrificed himself for those who would believe in him and follow him to the blessings of eternal life.
And, unlike Christmas, which is a season that comes with many outside expenses, Easter is typically a time when people may have more money to give. The holiday itself is less expensive, and people might have received fiscal-year or end-of-quarter bonuses. Many others received money via tax refunds.
People who don’t come to church regularly but do attend during special celebrations or holidays might also donate more than normal during this time to make up for not tithing or attending regularly during the year.
With the coronavirus making large worship gatherings less attractive or even impossible for some, this spontaneous Easter giving may be lessened.
Ideas for Creating Value for Congregations This Easter
One way that pastors and worship teams can help people through this time and still make Easter a special time of fellowship and reflection is by thinking outside of the box to provide value to congregations. Consider putting some of these tips into action during Holy Week, on Easter Sunday and in the weeks that follow.
Don’t just celebrate on a single day.
Churches have gathered en masse to celebrate the Resurrection for centuries, but why do we limit this to a single day each year? Remind congregations that Jesus defeated death and he does so every day because he’s alive — He’s alive! Start getting people involved in talking about future celebrations and events that recognize Christ as risen Savior. Looking toward the future helps uplift people with hope, and that can increase the value of church to them.
Create ongoing devotional times for the month.
Provide quality and quantity in the types of ways people can connect with the church and Christ this season to replace the quality and quantity of a single Easter service. Offer online devotionals that can be read, listened to or viewed. Invite people in the congregation to share their own talents during Zoom meetings by playing instruments, singing or sharing testimonies during this time.
Offer activities that comply with social distancing.
Create digital and social-distancing activities for families to help them celebrate Easter without gathering together. Something simple, such as a children’s Easter coloring contest, can involve kids in the Easter message. Smaller congregations can “hide” signboard eggs on their properties with garden stakes. Let families know the number of eggs and invite them to come, one at a time, to the property to find them all. Just make sure to let everyone know not to touch the eggs. Also tell them to wait in the parking lot for their turn if another family has already begun their search.
Invite people to worship on Easter from their homes.
Finally, use all the modern tools that weren’t available during the 1918-19 Spanish flu pandemic to help people worship from their homes. Broadcast Easter sermons and music via web conferencing or video tools. Consider inviting families to join in a sunrise service and brunch from their own homes, enjoying a meal together via the web.
Tips for Encourage Giving During COVID Even if Donors Can’t Be There
While you’re busy finding creative ways to serve your congregation during this odd Easter season, don’t forget to let your members and other donors know how they can continue to serve the church.
Connecting digitally and in other ways with members during this time keeps the church and its needs fresh in their minds. Offering special digital events and other programs also lets them invite friends and family members. These folks may find themselves stuck at home typically. You might find them more likely to enjoy church fellowship (even digitally) during this time.
That creates an opportunity for more people to support the church and each other. You can’t pass the plate, but you can use some of these tips to encourage donors.
Be honest about the church’s needs.
Especially with existing members. People want to support the institutions that have supported them. Being transparent about needs can encourage folks to give more. They might even give more than usual when they’re able to again.
Use creative strategies to let everyone give.
Many people are facing hardship during this time, but Pew Research indicates that younger generations might be especially hard hit. Offer options that work with a variety of lifestyles, budgets and needs. For example, young people out of work right now might not be able to give monetarily. They could support other church members, though, by delivering food or groceries. Ensuring that everyone feels like part of the solution helps create fellowship. It also promotes stronger giving when people are again able to do so.
Ensure everyone knows how to send donations.
Make sure everyone who connects with your church during this time knows how to support it. Some ideas for doing so include:
- Keep offertory thoughts, readings and prayers within your order of service digitally. You can’t pass a plate. Fortunately, you can post links to your donor software or website and your address for mailing in offerings.
- Put links and explanations for how to make digital donations on your websites.
- Include donor app links in the footers of all your emails.
- If you’re trying to raise money for a specific purpose, include the details in slide-show announcements on all your digital services and keep people informed of the progress. During this time, everyone can use a win. Helping save up to fund a future church mission can serve as that win. It’s also a heartwarming goal many would be glad to be a part of.
Excel With Giving During COVID
Giving during COVID might take a hit, but it doesn’t have to. Charitable donations actually went up in 2020. You just need to refocus your effort. Schedule a Discovery Call with DonorWerx to learn more. We’ll provide a variety of customized strategies — free of charge — to increase giving by 10% in just six months.