A Summer of Service in the Era of Social Distancing

May 21, 2020 9:00:00 AM / by Tera Michelson

Canceled. Postponed. Rescheduled. These months of quarantine have thrown our traditional summer ministry schedule into chaos, but God’s love through the work of the church is needed now more than ever. Don’t let the pandemic stall your summer service plans.

The church has a unique opportunity to think hyperlocal and prioritize the needs of our closest neighbors, empowering homegrown volunteer opportunities and fulfilling a sense of purpose in an uncertain time. Reimagine a summer of service, even in this season of social distancing.

Serve Neighbors

There’s no shortage of people in need. Reach out to church members, ministry partners, neighbors and school administrators to identify who could benefit from aid and how to fill the gaps. Think about how your church is uniquely poised to support susceptible youth and family groups, lonely and at-risk neighbors, first responders, and medical personnel. Find the sweet spot where your community’s gifts and needs meet.

Offer Open-ended Choices and Specific Assignments

Post summer project ideas on a virtual board on your church website, or use Google Docs or an online organizing tool like Sign Up Genius. List tasks involving various commitment levels of time, skills, and resources, and guide volunteers to choose according to their own needs. Be sure to include roles for the at-risk population who are at home. List suggestions for random acts of service, like:

  • Deliver flowers to a neighbor.
  • Send a card to a friend.
  • Patronize a local small business.  

For more specific service assignments, add detailed projects to your virtual posting place. To help match volunteers with the skillsets needed, include project expectations. Pinpoint a contact person who can share details without violating privacy. For example:

  • Paint the exterior of a home. Paint provided; bring your own brushes. Call Vincent for details: 555.5555

Make it an Event to Remember

Where you used to have a trip or camp scheduled, refill your church calendar with service days or weeklong service events. Organize teams of social circles and assign them to local projects. Make it an event to remember by programming it like a trip:

  • Order matching t-shirts.
  • Gather virtually for morning kick-offs and evening highs and lows.  
  • Create team-building challenges: dress like superheroes, feature a word of the day, or compete in scavenger hunts.

Where there is need, God’s people move into action. This summer presents difficult circumstances, but we don’t have to go far or breach safety guidelines to make a big impact with small acts of God’s love.

Topics: COVID-19, Coronavirus, Social distancing

Tera Michelson

Written by Tera Michelson

Tera Michelson is a silver-haired youth leader, serving the church since 1994. She loves Jesus and teens. She is a pastor’s spouse, mother of three, and writes at the world’s loudest house on a hilly street in Ohio.


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