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Public Health and Safety Emergency Continuity Planning For Your Church

by Dr. Paul Raybon

We hope that the following ideas from our partner, Paul Raybon, can help guide your church in these challenging days of the pandemic.

Who is empowered to make decisions? Health and safety issues may develop too quickly for deliberative processes.

What are triggers for implementing changes? Deciding these up front can prevent rehashing at every point. You might want to consider these areas:


What information/encouragement do we need to convey?

How (by what means) will we communicate both online and offline?

Who is responsible for communicating to whom?

When/how often do we need to get the word out?

How will contact persons communicate feedback to people who need to know?

Worship/Faith Formation

What worship and formation experiences can be extended beyond and instead of physical gatherings?

What elements are crucial/helpful for helping people worship?

How do we encourage interactivity and connection?

Who do we know that can help us extend worship/formation to our congregation and community via web/radio/mail etc?

When/how often can we provide those experiences?

Pastoral Care

What are visiting guidelines for local institutions?

How do we convey care and prayer for those we cannot physically visit?

Which staff and deacons are able to make contacts and communicate feedback?

How will we deal with deaths/funerals/weddings?


What ongoing ministries, on which people depend for sustenance and care, can we maintain?

What ministries need to be suspended?

What resources are available to meet needs? How limited are those resources?

How will we communicate with ministry participants?

How can we find safe alternative means of meeting needs?

Who is available/able to meet those needs?

Administration – Who is responsible for answering these questions and delegating responsibilities?

What digital backup copies of financial, membership, and operational files are in place?

What documents/materials are needed for remote operations during a campus shutdown?

What contact information is available to leaders during campus shutdown?

How can phone/computer systems be used to receive and forward calls, and check messages?

How can offerings be collected and deposited? Are online and bank draft methods in place?

How can we pay bills/do payroll/check mail?

Who is back up for bookkeeper/treasurer?

How will sanitation be maintained?

What parts of building need to be secured? When? By whom?

How will we take care of hourly employees?

What are alternative sources of funding?

By what mechanism can we access savings, designated funds, and endowments to keep church operating?

These thoughts above are from Dr. Paul Raybon, our partner in ministry for Western North Carolina. He is an associate pastor at Hominy Baptist Church near Asheville, NC and works with churches and leaders in the Western Carolinas as a coach and consultant. For more information about how he can help you, contact him at 828.713.6986 or

How’s Your Vision: What’s Working/Not Working?

One of the key tools in assessing the health of a congregation is asking the questions “what’s working?” and “what’s not working?” This is NOT the same as “what do you like?” and “what don’t you like?” There could be a ministry that you passionately support that is not doing what it needs to do. There could also be a program that you don’t care for that is meeting all expectations. I like to rephrase the questions in terms of energy:

  • What are some sources of energy and excitement in our church where God is at work in and through us to make a difference? Where are we being and doing our best?
  • What are some issues that seem to consume energy without being resolved, or efforts that consume more energy than the ministry value they generate? Where do we want to be and do better?

Dr. Paul Raybon, our partner in ministry for Western North Carolina and Upstate South Carolina, is Associate Pastor at Hominy Baptist Church near Asheville, NC and works with churches and leaders as a coach and consultant in visioning, administration, and spiritual formation. For more information about how he can help you, contact him at

How’s Your Vision

by Dr. Paul Raybon

I made my annual trip to the eye doctor last week. When you read for work and pleasure as well as spend a lot of time in front of a computer screen, you take care of your eyes. I’m always fascinated by the whole process. Having pictures taken of the inside of your eye, trying not to blink when the puff of air comes, and then sitting in the big chair while the doctor smoothly manipulates the lenses on the phoropter (new word for the day!) asking repeatedly “Which set of letters is clearer, this one or this one? Then “Tell me when the letters line up,” and “Tell me when the two images merge into one.”

As I prepare to lead a visioning process at my own church, my visit to the eye doctor reminds me of a few truths about the vision of the church.

  1. Health is the first concern. Before my doctor and I talk about glasses, we talk about the health of my eyes. Are there signs of eye disease or cataracts clouding my vision? Are there indicators of other serious health issues showing up in my eyes (like diabetes, cancer and stroke)? When we gather to talk about casting a vision for the future of our congregations we need to take time to look at the spiritual health of our church. What’s working? What’s not working? Are there signs of emotional and spiritual illness that need to be addressed?
  2. Get an accurate picture before you start correcting. My doctor takes the time to ask how I’m feeling and what I sense is going on with my vision.  He also takes precise measurements of my eyes and vision. Together the subjective and objective examinations present a more accurate picture of what is needed. As we begin to look at our churches’ future we don’t depend solely on our feelings, our observations, or crunching numbers, but a combination of information that allows us to see where we are right now.
  3. Don’t consider at all the options at once. That amazing phoropter has over 200 lenses which can produce multitudes of combinations. But the doctor only presents you with two choices at a time. “Which one looks better?” In congregational visioning we use discerning consensus to determine which options we want to consider first. Hold the other options in reserve in case the chosen paths don’t lead where we need to go.
  4. Look for congruence. The doctor is making sure that both eyes are going to be seeing the same thing. If the congregation doesn’t sense that things are coming together and we are moving in the same direction together, then pause and make sure that we are all looking at the same target and moving with the same intent. Sometimes, maybe always, when a person say “yes” they are agreeing to their interpretation of the choice before them.
  5. Don’t cheat. When the doctor asks “Which line can you read clearly?” The part of me that wants to do well on a test is tempted to squint and guess at a line too far down the screen.  That is a good way to end up with lenses that don’t do enough correcting for clear sight. As we pursue a congregational vision we are tempted to squint our eyes, or maybe put on our rose colored glasses, and try to imagine things are better than they are. Being honest in our assessments helps us know what really needs to be done to move us ahead towards God’s calling for our congregation.

Dr. Paul Raybon, our partner in ministry for Western North Carolina and the Upstate South Carolina, is Associate Pastor at Hominy Baptist Church near Asheville, NC and works with churches and leaders as a coach and consultant in visioning, administration, and spiritual formation. For more information about how he can help you, contact him at

Not Enough

For he said to me “My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.” II Cor. 12:9  
The Message

I understand when I see the memes and hashtags that say “you are enough

So many people in this world are drowning in messages of self-loathing and inadequacy, from internal and external voices that constantly remind them that they are not smart enough, not rich enough, not old or young enough, not big or little enough, not healthy enough, not male enough, not white enough, just not enough to matter in this world.

When I see people crumble under the weight of images thrust upon them by others, I just want to take them in my arms and say “you are enough”.

But that’s not enough.

Because I know in the deepest part of my soul, it’s not true.

I am not enough.

When the young man takes his life because he thinks he has disappointed those who love him one time too many.

I am not enough.

When the cancer recurs in dozens of places in the body of one who has been cancer free for decades.

I am not enough.

When the friend who had lunch with you on Sunday is killed in a fiery car crash and you hug his wife and children with no words to say.

I am not enough.

When the parents of a young adult are wondering what has happened in the month since they last heard from him.

I am not enough.

When the young pastor has been called to save a dying congregation and the church bullies are sharpening their knives to cut one more preacher to pieces.

I am not enough.

Not because I lack self-esteem, or a loving family, or adequate training and education, or even financial resources (on a global scale) or the right pedigree or gender or social connections or skills.

I am not enough because none of us were ever created to be enough, on our own. We were created, “fearfully and wonderfully made” to live in relationship, with God and with each other. The church was created, as a living body of Christ, so that together, we could be enough, for each other.

So as we partner with churches and with each other, do not try to be enough within yourself. Do not try to be enough for someone else.

Trust God, who will place others in your life’s path, and you in the life path of others, so that together we can draw on God’s Spirit, whose grace was, and is, and always will be, enough.

Dr. Paul Raybon, our partner in ministry in the Western Carolinas, can help you and your ministry discern how to get from here to there. He is Associate Pastor at Hominy Baptist Church near Asheville, NC and works with churches and leaders as a coach and consultant in visioning, administration, and spiritual formation. For more information about how he can help you, contact him at

After the Keys Are Yours

One of the issues that churches fail to consider when building or renovating new space is the

future cost of operating that space. A new space presents potential increases in utilities,

cleaning supplies, janitorial services, insurance premiums and maintenance costs even if it is

never used! 75% of the lifetime cost of a building is in maintenance. Add to that the expense of

doing ministry in that space- expendable materials, equipment and staffing, and your church

could spend many thousands of dollars over the coming years. Maintenance costs can be

estimated by square footage (in our region $5- $7 per square foot annually), projecting from

current costs, or by more complex tools like a lifecycle cost analysis. I suggest using a variety of

tools and seeing how they compare with your current pattern of expenses.

What can you do about these costs? Here are three ideas.

1. Build green: While you have the money in construction funds, install LED fixtures

and more efficient HVAC systems. For an upfront cost of $60,000, my church is saving

$10,000 a year on utilities. Solar is another option and there are ways that donors can

legally get the tax credits for significant upfront investment while your church benefits

from the electrical output.

2. Develop multiple sources of income: rental on use of space, dedicating other

rental income, and setting up an endowment for future costs. Fees for services like

exercise classes are permissible as long as they stem from the ministry and mission of

your church.

3. Escrow funds for known future expenses: Elevators have to be serviced ($2000 a

year or $400 an hour) and gym floors have to be refinished ($6000). Better to set aside a

little each year than try to raise it all at once with a “love offering” that cuts into budget


It’s a great day when the contractor ceremonially hands over the keys to your new space. Plan

ahead for the days to come and you can enjoy many years of good ministry.

Dr. Paul Raybon is the Barnabas Partner covering the Western Carolinas You can contact him