GUEST BLOG (Russ Barksdale): Triage for Churches during the COVID 19 Pandemic

Russ Barksdale
Russ Barksdale

Russ served as the Lead Pastor of Rush Creek in Arlington, Texas for 25 years. 
During his tenure, Russ experienced significant growth barriers, transitioned the church four times, survived three near-death experiences in leadership, and led the church to expand to a multi-campus, multi-layered staff. 

By God’s grace, Russ is uniquely equipped to serve as a pastor to pastors and is using this next season in life to serve the next generation of leaders.

Never before has the American church been put in a place where it cannot meet regularly for such an extended time. This unprecedented situation did not catch God by surprise and so we believe He has allowed it for His own purposes. One of them must be to strengthen His church.

Below are Eight Initiatives you can begin or enhance to help strengthen your church for the now and the future:

1.  Keep highlighting and repeating your mission and vision

  • Remember that vision leaks. It’s really leaking fast now. So keep reminding your people of the mission of Jesus’ church and the particular vision He’s given you to fulfill the mission.

2.  Member care:

  • a personal email and/or snail mail that goes out to your membership that includes a link to log their prayer needs (good chance to establish a prayer team if you don’t have one)
  • personal phone calls to folks over 60 or those you know have health problems
  • remember to quote Scripture and speak words of faith and hope     

3. Stewardship

  • Push online giving with a goal of doubling the percentage of online givers.  Make sure that you also stress how easy and important it is for them to make their gifts regular when they sign up. Might even post simple how-to instructions. If you don’t have online giving capacity yet on your website, PushPay is easy to add. You might also check out LifeWay’s website and the GiveInJoy website to discover more about online giving.
  • Send a series of emails encouraging people to give with an opportunity to click/give imbedded in the email.
  • Send snail mail letter out every month for 3-6 months with stamped return envelopes to targeted givers—those less likely to online.
  • Begin developing/enhancing a culture of generosity (go  to sign up for a free 30 minute phone call to discuss what that would look like for you)

4.  Budget realignment

  • Work on a budget that is tiered; i.e., 60%, 75%, 90%  There is a downloadable document “Realigning Your Budget” on my website that explains this further. If I can help, let me know. It is attached as well.
  • It sounds crazy, but begin now developing a plan to fund an ‘opportunity’ account that builds to 3 months minimum of budgeted expenditures and could become 6 months in the next 3 years.

5.  Live streaming

  • Produce a quality, yet inexpensive live streaming presence on FB and your website. is a free service put out by
  • I have posted a help sheet for “Preaching Without An Audience” on my website to help hone the skill of preaching to a camera, not physically present, audience. It’s attached as well.

6.  Small groups

  • This is a great time to highlight and build your small group leaders and structure. I’ve listed some helpful resources but the most important resource is YOU and your leadership.  Now is the time to recruit and train and multiply.
  • Resources:
    • The Gospel Project offers great Bible study curriculum
    • helps churches develop online community and discipleship.
    • RightNow Media has tons of streaming videos, including ability to customize. Training courses on their site including uploading discussion questions, etc.

7.  Digital Meetings

  • It is absolutely critical that you don’t just maintain your staff meetings, but that you increase their frequency during this time.
  • Virtual meetings can include not just your staff meetings, but your small group gatherings, leader training, deacons and elder meetings—AND, if you are a multi-staff church, include a staff wives meeting. Get the spouses to coral the kids and let the wives gather online to encourage each other.
  • If you haven’t read Patrick Lencioni’s book, “Death by Meeting,” it’s an easy, must read for those who want to get the most out of their staff and leadership meetings.
  • Zoom offers unlimited times of 40 minute usage; FaceTime is free; GoogleTalk costs.

8. Gospel       

  • This is a great time to both demonstrate and declare the gospel
  • Develop or enhance online prayer requesting and prayer groups
  • Look for ways to help your community
    • Food pantry, rent assistance, etc.
    • Gift cards for 1st responders and workers at nursing homes & hospitals
  • Post daily devotions that increase hope and cut away the fear

This is just a starter. I’m sure you are doing most if not all of this, but thought I’d jump in and see if any of this might help.

For You,
Pastor Russ

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