It’s inevitable. At some point, your place of worship will need to cancel services without much notice. The primary culprit is weather: dangerous winter roads affect nearly all regions, and other weather events may also lead to cancelled services.
Even if you’re located in a weather paradise, eventually something will lead to a service cancellation. Your facility may lose power, or your HVAC unit may give up the ghost on the hottest Saturday of the summer.
When—not if—you need to cancel services, it’s important to keep membership engaged. Here are some ways to do so.
Communicate the Closing to Your Congregation
Before you can engage your members, you first must reach them with the news of cancellation. This is the most important action by far, and it’s especially critical during events where even traveling to your place of worship could be dangerous—think dangerous winter weather.
While some of your congregation will still get this information by watching the ticker on the bottom of the local news broadcast, not all will. Be sure to get the message out through other channels: social media, the “prayer chain,” your email mailing list, texting—whatever options you have. Church management software with tools for sending mass communications can be a great help in this regard.
Leverage Your Digital Resources
Local news listings and phone chains can communicate that a service or event is cancelled, but that’s about it. The great thing about digital tools like social media, email, and church management software is that they give you the ability to do more than just communicate critical information.
At your next unexpected closing, consider sending out a short devotional based on the week’s planned message. You could also point your congregation to a video or audio recording of a vital message from earlier in the year. Social media is a great way to share relevant passages or songs fitting your current theme, too. Use these tools to engage your members, so that they don’t just take a “holy snow day.”
Extend Your Reach Throughout the Week
For some in your congregation, your place of worship is their primary community. Missing that gathering may be harder for them than for others. And during an extended winter weather event, others may also experience feelings of isolation.
Think beyond the weekend. Use the tools you have available to reach your people during the week more than you usually would. Doing so will serve two purposes: it will both encourage them and keep them engaged.
Enable Off-Site Contributions with Online Giving
With no offering plates being passed (and no one to pass them to!), weeks with no services can cause a dip in giving. This can be a real budgetary headache for some ministries, but you can mitigate this loss by allowing for off-site giving (with mobile and online giving) and for recurring electronic donations.
By implementing mobile and online giving for your faith-based organization now, you enable your members to give from anywhere, at any time. That means that whether they are kept away from church by adverse weather conditions, illness, or travel, they will always be able to participate in giving.