How can Christians still minister while practicing social distancing?

Social distancing has changed all of our lives exponentially in a very short period of time. One day we were all meeting for coffee or going to the movies together, and then bam, school moved online and everything closed except essential businesses. 

According to the Santa Clara Valley Public Health Department fact sheet, “social distancing measures are taken to restrict when and where people can gather to stop or slow the spread of infectious diseases.”

While there is no current vaccine to combat or prevent the coronavirus, social distancing is doing the next best thing by limiting face to face interactions. Keeping yourself and others around you safe means staying home and only going out when absolutely necessary. 

Social distancing efforts have the health and well-being of all in mind, but “They also push against our deep instincts for togetherness, and can worsen our emotional well-being during already trying times,” said Jamil Zaki of the Washington Post.

While people are stocking up on canned goods and toilet paper, how can Christians feed that spiritual hunger and create a sense of community in this time of searching and isolation?

It is ingrained in our being to desire human interaction, which makes something as simple as staying home a monumental battle. As Christians, we are called to minister and spend time in fellowship, but how can we do that if the World Health Organization has called us to socially distance ourselves from one another? 

With the closing of churches, cancelation of almost everything and the initiation of self quarantine all around the world we need to find a way to fellowship and minister to those in need. 

Social distancing has been initiated on a serious measure and for good reason, but there are many in our communities that will suffer in this time of isolation and it is our duty to reach out and be there for them, even if that cannot be in the flesh. 

For some, this surge of self imposed isolation is nothing new. Many people who suffer from mental illnesses such as depression or anxiety, as well as those who are in hospice care or are unable to get around on their own experience involuntary social distance on a daily basis. 

Being able to experience similar feelings of isolation can open your eyes to new ways of connecting virtually. Calling, texting, video chatting or even emailing a friend can have a significant positive impact on them during this time of separation. 

“Spend time with them by watching movies or your favorite shows through video chat. Try having dinner or shaking your groove things together with a virtual dance party. These activities can speak volumes and show that you truly do love and care about your favorite people” says an unspecified author for the Cleveland Clinic’s Health Essentials blog. 

With video communication at the fingertips of so many individuals, communicating interpersonally, while maintaining necessary social distance has become that much easier.

Calling to check in on how this massive world change is affecting a friend presents them with the opportunity to let some stress off their chest, and open up to a moment of normalcy. 

Though the order of the world has been turned on its head, this is only a temporary situation. Zaki states that, “We should also use technology to create habits of connections, reproducing the rituals that make us feel less alone.”

While we are being called to stay apart physically, that does not mean we are being called to stay apart completely. Self quarantine does not equal complete isolation. 

In times of mass uncertainty fear has the ability to take control of our lives. Often fear manifests itself into ugly forms, but we have the ability to combat that fear by standing strong as a community. 

Reaching out to a friend, calling up a family member or checking in on someone who is suffering mentally or physically are simple actions that can leave a lasting impression on the mental and emotional well-being of all. 

Time and time again, obstacles have attempted to derail the work of Christ and this pandemic is no different. Staying connected is key, so send a text, call a friend and allow Christ to work through you and the conversations you facilitate from a distance.