My church is just like yours, I bet. We order curriculum from a major Christian publisher, LifeWay. While we are at home and sheltering, summer curriculum orders are about to start arriving (some churches have already taken delivery on summer Bible studies used in Sunday School groups). Because we are not sure when the sheltering and social distancing mandates will end, church leaders are beginning to ask, “What should we do with our summer curriculum orders?” I’m asking the same question because I provide oversight to that at my church. We all have 4 options as I see it. Here are the different ways we might all get new summer studies into the hands of our people:
- Create a drive-through. Some churches are planning on having a staff member or deacon available at certain hours of the day so that church members can drive through the parking lot or covered driveway and pick up a copy of their personal study guide.
- Deliver the study guides to homes. Group leaders, staff, and deacons can take study guides to people’s homes and drop them off on the porch. No social contact will take place – just a “hit and run.”
- Provide digital copies via email. LifeWay’s ongoing Bible studies are available in PDF format. That includes personal study guides, leader guides, and other materials. There’s no reason that anyone should be without their trusted, quality resources. LifeWay is currently giving away digital copies of Spring 2020 resources. Go to curriculum.lifeway.com to get yours.
- Mail them. While this is a more expensive option, you can include an encouraging letter from the pastor and/or staff. And by the way, aren’t people worth the $1.23 it might cost to get them 13 weeks of Bible study materials for the summer??
The book The Shape of Faith to Come authorized a study that confirmed the most important factor in year-over-year spiritual growth was whether or not people read the Bible and other Christian literature daily. There’s no way I am cutting my church’s curriculum order – it’s just too important to people’s long-term growth and health. Now is the time for people to immerse themselves in God’s Word daily, not the opposite! I pray that you and your church will continue to provide encouraging studies to your people. I’m working on a plan to get my church member’s study materials to them, but hopefully we’ll all be back in our churches before June 1! That’s my hope and prayer for our nation.
And by the way, if you’re wondering whether or not delivering study materials to homes, or setting up a drive-through at the church might violate “shelter” orders, it won’t. Here is an excerpt of what the sheltering order means to us:
The intent of this Order is to ensure that people remain in their residences and minimize social
interactions outside of their immediate family unit. However, you may leave your residence for reasons specified in the Order. These reasons include ensuring the health and safety of yourself and your family, engaging in outdoor activity that does not involve close contact with other people, obtaining services and supplies for yourself and your family, and to perform employment functions that are permissible under the Order.
In my home state of Texas, Governor Abbott has ruled churches as “essential services.” Check with your local and state authorities, because it varies from place to place. We are allowed to move about for health reasons, which includes mental health! I can’t think of a better mental health resource than a person’s Bible study materials! Of course if you choose to deliver or set up a drive-through experience, take every precaution to keep social distances of six feet or more. Don’t stop to visit with the person – just leave their study resources and keep your distance.
Of course you may want to plan to go the digital route and email study materials from your Christian publisher of choice. Whatever you do, don’t return your study materials and tell people to “fend for themselves.” This is the time to double down on helping people stay connected to God in daily life.