Social Distancing and Missions? YES!

In light of our nation’s state of emergency, we find ourselves in strange days. School systems are closing until the pandemic passes while homeschoolers are marching forward with business as usual, but we are all under the mindset of not sharing germs and making sure we don’t pick up any.

In my 45 years on this planet, I’ve never seen anything like the days we are walking in right now. It almost feels like something out of a sci-fi movie, doesn’t it? There are events that have happened in my lifetime that I’ll always remember: 9/11, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the space shuttle Challenger disaster.

Gen Z is going to remember something that absolutely affected the entire world. And they are going to remember how their parents and church leaders reacted to a worldwide pandemic. They will remember the dinner time conversations, empty shelves in grocery stores, and missing school for weeks.

The way you and I handle this pandemic is of the utmost importance because it has the potential to shape Gen Z’s response to any crisis for the rest of their lives.

So how do we show students the importance of continuing to be missions-minded while they are practicing social distancing? With all this attention on taking care of ourselves and ensuring we are germ free, how do we encourage students to continue to focus on sharing the gospel and serving others?

As believers, our responsibility is to make sure we handle this crisis in a biblical way and encourage our students be full of love and be Christ’s hands and feet in serving others.

Can missions projects continue while practicing social distancing? Yes!
 

Consider these ideas:

  • Send letters and cards. Challenge your students to send a letter to someone who could use some encouragement. Make sure to give them ideas and Scripture prompts as you help them engage people outside of your congregation.
  • Help students order diapers or other baby/toddler needs online and ship them to a family in your community. Most online retailers will allow you to include a note if the item is a gift, so make great use of that space by telling them why you are reaching out to them.
  • In addition to texting, encourage students to call a friend from school to just check in. They can share what they’ve been doing and how they are staying busy during this time, talk about school work, and just share life for a few moments. Remind them to end their time on the phone by asking how they can pray for their friend.
  • Start a video chat prayer group. Encourage believers and non-believers to attend and take a few minutes to pray for our country, our leaders, your schools, and your community. Remember to also include praying for missionaries celebrating birthdays by using the missionary prayer calendar.
  • Help someone impacted directly by social distancing by providing a service free of charge. This would include restaurant staff, small business owners, and anyone who works in a venue where large gatherings have been canceled. Make sure the free service does not go against social distancing guidelines. Options include mowing someone’s yard or cleaning up debris. Make sure to contact the person for permission and to make sure the person receiving the service knows why your students are helping them (while maintaining physical distance, of course).
  • Fill bird feeders at a local nursing home. Get permission from the management ahead of time for an unconventional visit. Draw pictures on the sidewalks with sidewalk chalk and make sure to wave at any residents who may be watching you from their windows. If you have time to prepare in advance, students can make small signs that explain why your students are doing this.


This is a time for students (and families) to remember that we can continue to further gospel conversations while observing health guidelines set in place to protect everyone.

We know many people turn to church and God during a time of crisis. Let’s make sure what we share and say absolutely points people to God.

As you reach out to your students by text, phone, or video chat, remind them that while this may surprise us, none of this surprises God.
 


Heather Keller is the student editor at national WMU. She and her younger son are coloring pictures to send to a local nursing home while her older son and husband start mowing yards this week.

 

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