The local church has one of the most valuable resources available in times of crisis; readily arranged networks of people. The first important step to take is to map and become aware of these networks. Find out if there is a church database of members, and what information this database includes. Helpful information would include name, phone number or other means of communication, and address so that your efforts can be geographically organised. With this information, map your church members geographically. Set up local response groups in terms of the different geographical locations in which members are based OR if it makes more sense and your church already has smaller group structures, perhaps in terms of home groups, or specific ministry groups (women’s groups, men’s groups, young adult’s groups etc.), you may prefer to continue organising yourselves according to those structures, and to use the communication lines that are already in place because of them.
If you have ministries that serve vulnerable members both inside and outside your church, map out where they are based, see who they are in close proximity to, and who may be able to support them during this time. If these ministries include things like feeding schemes, you will need to find out if you are able to register them as essential services, but if not, you will need to find alternative ways of support which may include direct payment to, or buying groceries for, those individuals or families most at risk.
In addition, gather all the names of the elderly, immune-compromised and other vulnerable members in your church. Assign the follow-up and care of these individuals to particular groups, depending on their geographical location. Create a check-list of questions to find out how you can serve them in this time. Keep it practical and doable. This could include finding out about their grocery shopping needs, medication needs, prayer needs etc. If you are aware of individuals for which you have no contact or geographical information, use your networks to try and find this information out.