Facilitating a COVID-19 activity review: By The Rev’d Adam Lowe

COVID-19 has created substantial change and disruption to ministry activities over the past 12+ months. In response to the pandemic, individuals and communities have added, changed, and paused a vast array of activities. In fact, there’s been no shortage of pivoting! The way in which communities have responded is a great witness to their resilience and creativity. However, it’s also evident that the rate of change and uncertainty has resulted in significant fatigue and a hesitancy to make decisions.

Leaders can be tempted to wait for a hypothetical point in the future in which we will be ʻback to normalʼ or in which things have at least stabilised. However, with uncertainty likely to continue for some time due to a range of factors (e.g., differences in vaccine rollout rates, questions regarding COVID-19 variants, and changed behaviour), itʼs crucial to proactively review activities rather than waiting for an unknown point-in-time in which it will seem evident to do so. Waiting for an elusive reflection point will likely result in increased fatigue, diminished compliance, wasted resources, mission distraction, missed opportunity and reduced engagement.

To assist with this, weʼve adopted a straightforward activity review that involves a series of simple steps. It could be helpful to complete this with your team (or key leaders) simply using some sticky notes and a wall or by accessing the templates and Google Sheet provided at the end of this article.

Key steps

Step 1: Identify

What have you paused, adapted, added, or not changed since COVID? This is the COVID Status.

Begin by listing all your activities in these four categories (and their status). Itʼs important to be comprehensive the first time you do this as itʼs likely that there are numerous things that youʼre now just doing or have forgotten.

  • Paused refers to things that you have put on hold during COVID. For example, food at morning tea may currently be on hold.
  • Adapted refers to things that you are currently doing in a changed (pivoted!) format. For example, you may have adapted your small groups to be both in-person and via Zoom.
  • Added refers to activity that is new since COVID and now part of your regular rhythm. For example, it could include pre-registrations, live-streaming, cleaning after services, hand sanitiser (everywhere).
  • Not Changed refers to activities that have been relatively undisturbed since COVID (in its current status). For example, your weekly printed communications may not have changed significantly. Itʼs helpful to include these activities as the last 12 months may provide a valuable basis to reflect on the status quo.

Step 2: Review

Having ascertained the status of each activity, what should happen now? This is the Reviewed Status.

Categorise each of your ministry activities according to the following five categories.

  • Cease: Youʼre ready to decide that this activity can be concluded. This activity may have served a purpose, but is now using resources and energy unnecessarily and possibly creating distraction and confusion.
  • Pause: Youʼre not ready to decide on the future of this activity, or the timing/conditions are not yet right to change, recommence, or continue it.
  • Change/Review: It is now the right time to change the shape or focus of the activity in light of the context, current needs, or what you have learned over the last 12 months. Even though you might not be sure of the direction, now is an opportunity for a more thoroughgoing review of it.
  • Re-Commence: The timing is right to recommence the activity close to its former (or adapted) form and focus.
  • Continue: Considering the current context and conditions, this activity should continue with its current form and It may still be reviewed later.

Step 3: Enact

Where you have a status change, work out a suitable plan to follow.

In some circumstances, this will be straightforward. In other instances, it will be more complex and require numerous steps and aspects of communication. Further review may also be prudent.

Step 4: Plan

Set a timeframe for when you will review these activities again. Three months could be a good working guide.

Other resources

To help implement this review process, there are several resources that you may find helpful.

First published on the St Bart’s, Toowoomba website on 24 May 2021.

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