My last blog post, 5 ways to connect with God during the coronavirus pandemic, talked about exactly what the title implies – connecting with God during this unprecedented time of social distancing and staying home. If you are feeling disconnected from God, especially in the absence of in-person church and ministries, you are not alone. Check out my last post for some encouragement.
Living out our faith is a delicate balance between connecting with God through prayer, study, and worship (“filling our spiritual bucket” as I like to call it) and then pouring this out by serving God and connecting with others. Serving God looks like so many different things, but today, let’s talk about some specific ways that we can serve God during this unique time of social distancing.
Maybe you’ve been putting serving God on the back burner right now. I mean, we’re in a pandemic after all. I’ve often had thoughts of “once this is over, I’m going to connect with this ministry/serve in this capacity/start this small group/fill-in-the-blank.” And then I’m reminded of the Apostle Paul. Specifically, the multiple times that Paul was imprisoned for sharing his faith.
Let’s quickly visit Acts 16:16-40 when Paul and Silas were arrested, flogged, and imprisoned. That night, around midnight, when the temptation to be discouraged, sleep, cry, eat a tub of Ben and Jerry’s (no? Just me?), and maybe even question God’s plan would be all too real, Paul and Silas instead prayed out loud and sang hymns to God “and the other prisoners were listening to them” (Acts 16:25.) Not only were the prisoners seeing Paul and Silas’ faith, but they were soon even given the opportunity to speak “the word of the Lord” to the jailer and lead him to Christ. WHAT?! Even in prison, Paul did not say “once this is over, I will resume serving God.” He continued serving God exactly where he was, in the season he was in.
So, whether you’re in a pandemic-induced quarantine, in prison, or in line at the grocery store, now is a great time to serve God.
Okay, but now you might be thinking “Okay, but HOW? We can barely leave our houses.” Here are five ways that you can serve God and others during this time of remaining socially distant.
1. Ask your church leadership team what you can do to help.
Right now, your church leadership team might have a list of congregants sitting on their desk that they need to call to check in on. Or, perhaps, they need some help keeping up to date with their social media pages. Maybe their food pantry needs donations. Maybe they could use a substitute fill-in for a virtual Bible study or small group. Abruptly switching to online church services and ministries is daunting and I am sure that there are times that your church’s leadership team feels overwhelmed. Reaching out and seeing how you can help is a great way to alleviate stress and serve God.
2. Use social media to your advantage.
Before the pandemic, social media was a great way to share your faith. Now, with everyone at home and social media use even higher, it is even more effective. Set an Instagram story asking if anyone has any prayer requests. Write a status asking if anyone is home alone and would like to swap contact information. Share encouraging truth. Do a mental health check and ask how your friends and followers are doing.
Please, be wise in what you post and how you phrase it. Don’t water down God’s truth, but pray before you post and be sure that it is from God and worded in a way that is honoring to God and accurately depicting his love for all people. You are trying to bring God’s love to people, not push them away.
3. Contact a friend, neighbor, coworker, family member, ANYONE!
The neighbor across the street, the old friend from college, your cousin, niece, or nephew who is at home trying to finish this school year online, your coworker, – reach out to them. A simple text that says, “I’ve been thinking about you – how are you doing?” The next time you’re going food shopping, call your neighbor and ask if they would like groceries dropped off on their front porch. Be the church and check in on the people in your life. See if they need anything and pray with them.
4. Tap into special skills that you could use to serve others.
This is where you can be creative and really focus in on your unique talents! Can you sew? Post on social media asking if anyone needs a mask. Are you good with technology? Offer your expertise to your church, friends working from home, or parents trying to help their kids navigate online schooling. Are you skilled in teaching the Bible or ministering in a certain area? Talk to your church about starting an online small group. Do you like to write? Start a faith blog (like I did!) What special skill do you have, and how can you encourage others and glorify God with it at this time?
5. Focus on serving the people within your household.
Here is one that was a lightbulb moment for me. When we think of how we can serve God, we often think of what we can do outside of our homes, but the truth is that honoring God within your home is just as important. You’re probably spending far more time at home with your family now than you were three months ago. Use this extra time to really focus in on your family’s spiritual health. Listen to your kids and talk about emotions that they’re feeling. Learn your spouse’s love language and make a conscious effort to draw closer to them. (Side note: It was a total game changer a couple years ago when my husband and I used Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages to guide us in how we showed our love to each other.) Read the Bible with your family, pray with your family, laugh and love with your family.
6. Bonus: Talk about God
Okay, I realize that #5 may not apply to everyone; some people are at home alone during this time, so I am throwing in a bonus: Talk about God! Seriously. Serving God is not always a huge, earth-shaking gesture. Sometimes it is a simple conversation.
Whenever possible, or you feel led, talk about God with whoever you’re talking to. Virtual game night with friends? Share a recent blessing or how you’ve been relying on God through this experience. Shopping at the grocery store? Thank the cashier and ask if there’s any way you could pray for them. Talking to your neighbor through a mask and from 6 feet away? You understand by now where I’m going with this – sprinkle the conversation with some of God’s love in whatever way feels most natural and God-inspired. Ultimately, just tell these people around you how much God loves all of us.
This list isn’t perfect, and it certainly isn’t all-encompassing, but I hope it gives you the encouragement today to be a modern-day, imprisoned Paul and serve God during this season. And, just like every season, this too will pass and things will eventually begin to feel normal again.