Even during the COVID-19 outbreak, social distancing and stay at home orders, local pastors are still reaching community members by being creative in their ministry efforts.
If churches aren't live streaming, they're actively making an effort, and if they're already doing it, then they're ahead of the game.
Members who attended church before the pandemic most likely didn't engage in the church's online content, but now they're contributing to the growing number of Americans streaming services in the comfort of their own homes.
Bethel Pastor Dillon Miller said Bethel has a strong and diligent membership that genuinely loves the Lord and loves others and that those characteristics have not changed since the virus. "We have all worked together to minister to every need within the membership. I am confident this situation has grown us spiritually.
Miller also said that not being able to gather has caused his church to redefine how they do ministry. Bethel has adapted in various ways, first by regularly scheduled services being streamed on Facebook and YouTube.
"For those who do not have access to the internet, we are providing DVD copies of all services as well as printed sermon transcripts. Services can be accessed through our website (www.bethelparis.org).
Rev. Judy Hall, from the First United Methodist Church in Paris, said that her congregation misses being together. Still, they are making an effort to find new ways to do things and to tolerate the things they cannot do for now. And for now, she is just thankful for the community where she continues to serve.
I am so thankful to live in this community. We had double the number of persons donate at the Blood Drive recently. I am so thankful for the Ministerial Alliance and all the ways we are coming together to offer encouragement, hope and the love of Christ through our Facebook Page."
UMC is uploading pre-recorded messages to the website each week, along with sharing the information with Facebook and phone trees.
"This allows those in rural areas with limited internet the ability to watch pieces at a time. We also have sent out text copies of sermons and other items."
But being creative in ways of ministry is not the only concern for local churches; finances are substantial on the minds of church leaders as well.
"We are looking at new ways of giving from our congregation," said Hall. "This is something we have talked about doing for a while. I am thankful for technology (did I just say that?) and for all the ways people continue to give and support us so we can continue to be the church - especially in times like these."
Miller said, "The Bible tells us in Philippians 4:19, 'And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. ' I have seen this promise, as with all promises of God, remain true."
Pastor Nate Willcutt from Freewill Baptist said that finances have been tighter than usual, but the church still has faithful members that give offerings every week, even though they can't physically be at church.
"Thankfully, we have a great treasurer that stewards our funds very well, so this won't be a detrimental time for us, but we still have to use wisdom and be conservative for a little while until this passes."
Freewill Baptist is also using Facebook Live as a tool for services, and Willcut said that with most parishioners having Facebook, they can tune in on Saturdays and Sundays to hear the service.
"It doesn't beat being there, but it helps with morale and feeds the soul. It's kind of like a microwave and a slow cooker. The slow cooker always has the best flavor, while the microwave just gets you fed. Being in service with everyone is like the slow cooker and is always better, but for now, the microwave method of online service will keep us fed until we can get back at it."
Other churches in Logan County are having services outside while the congregation stays in their vehicles and listens to the worship service. Still, no matter how the message is being relayed, pastors want to ensure the community that support is not going to change.
"Bethel's support for the community has not been altered; our day-to-day ministries are remaining consistent, with the caveat of taking 'social distancing' measures. We are continuing to minister to every spiritual need. Bethel has received tremendous support from the community, as many have participated in online services."
Hall said that the UMC food pantry will continue giving at its maximum ability and that the blessing box is continuing to be filled and emptied.
"Sadly, we haven't been able to be as active since this virus became an issue, but we were able to use our kitchen to help feed kids during spring break thanks to Haven Of Hope. The pastors of the community have really come together during this time," said Willcutt.
Rev. Hall said she would like to have a community Easter Celebration when it is safe to gather again.
"We live in a compassionate, giving, supportive community. I pray we will do what is needed to stay safe and see this virus do the least possible damage here."
Check church Facebook pages and websites for Easter online services or alternative service information.