With the Covid-19 pandemic, we find ourselves using technology to connect with people virtually, rather than IRL (in real life). Many of us who are working from home are spending hours on video calls. Church members are reaching out to one another to make sure people stay connected to the community. Small groups, worship and even coffee fellowship times are being held online, rather than in person.
We know that this experience is not normal, not what we are used to, and won’t last forever, but perhaps this time of physical distancing is reminding us of the value and importance of relationships in our organizations.
A church we are guiding through a Visioning Process recently organized some “conversations during quarantine” to evaluate how people were connecting with the church and how people thought the church would be different when they are able to return to having church events in person. Many people had come to realize how maintaining connection to the community took a lot of time, effort and organization. One person who had been making calls to more isolated members shared that conversations were sometimes lasting an hour or more because people needed someone to combat the boredom and loneliness they were experiencing. “I used to take many of my relationships for granted,” another person remarked, “I’d think, ‘oh, I’ll call that person later,’ but then I would get busy and it wouldn’t happen. I think this experience has made me appreciate my relationships more and how necessary it is to make that connection with people.”
Our fundraising philosophy has always focused on relationships because we know that people give to the causes and organizations where they feel most connected, where they have experienced a sense of belonging. There is no online replacement for real relationships. No amount of email, social media or other creative communication can inspire people to give generously and faithfully if they have no relationship to your church or organization.
Hopefully the lessons we are learning during this crisis about the importance of relationships will stick with us, so that when we are able to be together again IRL, we will prioritize the building and deepening of relationships with one another.
Rachel Cornwell, Director
The James Company