We recognize that churches and church leaders are under terrible strain these days, and so we have been hard at work distilling from out of our research and outreach three simple, straightforward practices to advocate in our church network during this time.
The stress of crisis response creates tunnel vision for leaders unless it is actively resisted. One of the most effective ways of doing this is keeping a broad horizon by maintaining a diverse network of connections with whom you are regularly in touch. Block time on your schedule for conversations with leaders in peer and related organizations on a weekly basis — if not daily. These connections not only provide a context for mutual encouragement, support, and prayer, it opens an opportunity for mutual learning and problem solving that can increase the quality of your work, outcomes for our community as a whole.
Whatcom Love INC will be facilitating regular online round tables to help make and sustain these connections between church and agency leaders, and we will be posting here about the resources we generate and the things that we learn.
The good practice of “social (physical) distancing” for the sake of public health will have unintended side effects in exacerbating the epidemic of “social isolation,” which has been shown to have terrible repercussions for health and well being in individuals, and an untold cost to society at large. In these days of social distancing, social connections are more important than ever! Encourage all members of your community to identify two or three neighbors who are more vulnerable or isolated than they are whom they will commit to check in on daily through the duration of the crisis. Hold community members accountable, by asking them, “Who are you checking in on daily?” Encouraging them to look beyond the horizon of their normal social circle.
If members of your community are looking for isolated individuals to become phone friends with, encourage them to volunteer with Love INC. Our call volume is up 1000 percent since the onset of this crisis, and we are in need of compassionate, committed people who can comfort the lonely through a regular check in.
Moving to identify and appoint a Response Coordinator for your community may be one of the simplest and most high-impact things that you can do, both for the well being of your community, and for your impact during this challenging time. A Response Coordinator can remove some of the burden and stress of the crisis from senior leadership, allowing them to give greater attention to vision and operations. A good Response Coordinator, moreover, can help creatively harness and mobilize new energy and mobilization to serve created by the crisis, and take advantage of opportunities that leaders shouldering multiple complex responsibilities may not be able to perceive.
Whatcom Love INC has created this template job description for a Response Coordinator, to be adapted for local circumstances. If and when your community has appointed someone to this role, please let us know using this form so that we can share relevant information, connections, and opportunities through this network.